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A phone call a couple of hours ago brought the distressing news that Santi Restaurant (2097 Stagecoach Rd., Fountaingrove Village, Santa Rosa) has closed. A sign on the front door says the closure is due to a kitchen fire but an employee at Traverso’s, which shares a wall with the restaurant, says there has been no fire.

An individual, who asked not to be named and who works in the local food industry and is close to several Santi employees, confirms that the restaurant was shuttered after lunch yesterday. It’s a matter of money. Purveyors had the restaurant on a cash-only status and many refused to continue delivering to the ailing eatery.

Santi was founded more than a decade ago by the late chef Thomas Oden and chef Franco Dunn, currently of Scopa Sausage fame. Oden and Dunn sold the business to Doug Swett, who had been serving as general manager; both stayed on after Swett assumed ownership. Oden left first and Dunn stayed until the end of the Geyserville reign, when the lease for the space that once was and again is Catelli’s Restaurant was up and Swett moved the restaurant next door to Traverso’s, which seemed a perfect location. Traverso’s was eager to join with Santi to provide wines for the restaurant’s monthly regional Italian dinners.

I always enjoyed Santi and will miss it. Their legendary Spaghettini al sugo Calabrese, a recipe from Thomas Oden’s grandmother, was the stuff of dreams. And I guess it will remain so, until someone shares the recipe.

Best wishes to Santi’s hardworking and talented staff.

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Comments

28 Comments

  1. Robin Doran

    Michele…thanks for posting this. It was only a matter of time. The original concept, a good one, had sort of drifted away. The passion was not sustained I guess. BTW, I have the recipe for the sauce. It was Tom’s Calabrese grandmother’s recipe. We still make it in our house today. I will share it with you offline. Thanks for all the passion that you put into what you do.
    Robin

    May 11th, 2011 3:14 pm

  2. Bonnie P.

    I’ll also miss the Spaghettini. Doesn’t the sauce take 3 days to make? Do you know if there is still some sauce for sale at Traverso’s? I loved the Affogato at Santi for dessert.

    May 11th, 2011 3:56 pm

  3. MicheleAnna.Jordan

    I don’t know if there is sauce for sale at Traverso’s but I suspect not. I’ll look into it.

    May 11th, 2011 4:08 pm

  4. R. S. Hales

    Very sorry to see Santi closed. It was a nice addition to the Fountaingrove area.

    May 11th, 2011 4:16 pm

  5. ER

    Hope we can still get their sausages at the Farmer’s Market! We went to the restaurant a couple of months after they moved, as we never went to their Geyserville location, and were not impressed. The food was so so, they got our order wrong, and it was very noisy.

    May 11th, 2011 4:22 pm

  6. Robert

    I had lunch at Santi recently and ordered the Spaghettini al sugo Calabrese together with a caesar salad. The entire meal was outstanding. Service was wonderful. The dining room was very busy that day. The closure of the restsurant comes as a surprise. Very disappointing turn of events.

    May 11th, 2011 4:23 pm

  7. Jasper Flint

    I will miss this restaurant. The staff that I was exposed to on my visits were friendly and seemed to care a great deal about the food they were producing. When something like this happens, we often don’t think about the employees who are now looking for a new job in a very tough time. I hope them all the best.

    May 11th, 2011 4:27 pm

  8. MicheleAnna.Jordan

    If you’re talking about the sausages made by Franco Dunn, no worries. He’s been making them at Scopa in Healdsburg and calling them Scopa Sausages, though most everyone refers to them simply as Franco’s sausages.

    May 11th, 2011 4:31 pm

  9. James Dean muhfrikkers!

    The restaurant business is about as finicky as a red-headed street walker. Gamble in 1 year, 80% chance to fail; 5 years, 80% chance to fail; 10 years 80% chance to fail. It’s the nature of the beast and the customers as well. I have seen so many restaurants fall in SR and SoCo because, well, we are all a little finicky about where we go.
    Me, my favorite red-head used to own this way way cool business (catering) and yes, it was, heh heh heh, quite ‘Jaded’. I did love being the guy on the grill and Julieta will always be my favorite never-ever.

    May 11th, 2011 5:02 pm

  10. Marc

    Their closing is not surprising. We live a couple of miles from the location and really were looking forward to them moving so close to us. We had dinner there about 2 months after they opened. The service was very slow and the gentleman who seated us had a horrible attitude when we asked him if we could sit outside, almost as if it pained him to seat us outside.

    The food was ok, but certainly not worth the money, not even close. It was almost $50 for the 2 of us without any drinks, not even ice tea. We never returned. That location needs a moderately-priced restaurant without any ‘tude.

    May 11th, 2011 5:06 pm

  11. Kathy

    What a bummer, loved Santi.

    May 11th, 2011 5:21 pm

  12. Robin Pressman

    Oh no! I just re-discovered it in its new location at Fountaingrove and was looking forward to returning. Sad news.

    May 11th, 2011 5:42 pm

  13. Bonnie P.

    Actually, they sold the Spaghettini sauce frozen at the restaurant. I bought it once and they told me it was also sold at Traverso’s but I never checked. I imagined it was near the Pasta King products.

    May 11th, 2011 5:56 pm

  14. Brent J.

    If there was a fire why didn’t Traverso’s next door smell smoke? I think that’s a lot of hot air! I don’t blame the chefs, employees or food; they are all GREAT! I feel sorry for the good people that believed in Santi and are now without jobs.

    May 11th, 2011 6:36 pm

  15. Don Prial

    I must say that most of our dining experiences at both of Santi’s venues were excellent. In Geyserville, we stayed at the Geyserville Inn post-dinner so we could, uh, partake fully and not risk the return trip to Mendocino. The new venue in Fountaingrove was, well, a bit chilly, but I was happy to put up with it for the pleasure of their food. They weren’t perfect, Lord knows, but for the price they performed quite well. The neighborhood needs something good there and very soon. Let’s see, Willi’s, Starks, Monte’s; something seems to be missing from this fine portfolio.

    May 11th, 2011 8:17 pm

  16. Barbara

    Ouch! What if we had a gift certificate for Santi’s? Darn. Maybe they’ll come cook at my house? Heard very good things about them in the beginning and we were hoping to walk there on a warm summer night for Spaghettini al sugo Calabrese together with a Caesar salad.

    May 11th, 2011 8:55 pm

  17. Joan Simon

    Along with the sorely missed Restaurant Eloise , they tried to make top quality dining a fact of life outside of the tourist destination towns. I now feel guilty for not going more often to support them- the food was wonderful plus Doug and staff provided warm, knowledgeable, excellent service.

    May 11th, 2011 10:08 pm

  18. Tony

    So sad. I had the great opportunity to work back of the house at Santi for 3 years; some of my best kitchen memories came during this time. Just me, but it seemed that the neighborhood really didn’t embrace its presence from the get go. So many talented chefs and passionate waitstaff poured their souls into the place. My heart goes out to these individuals who are now without a kitchen home, and that is how all of us described the place. Really makes me think that SR will never be ready for serious, locally sourced, seasonal, real Italian Cuisine…

    May 12th, 2011 12:22 am

  19. Ronnie

    Oh no, how sad. We considered it our neighborhood place – we went there several times a month and just had an awesome Mother’s Day Brunch there. The staff was one of the best I’ve ever seen (and I was in the business for 22 years). This is very, very sad news. I’m especially going to miss Matt and Sean. Good luck to two very talented gentleman.

    May 12th, 2011 7:50 am

  20. Jerry Starr

    Had a very memorable dinner there a few weeks ago with fellow judges and colleagues who were a part of the West Coast Wine Competition. The late Mike Lee was there, and the sparkling wine was flowing. Santi will be missed!

    May 12th, 2011 9:56 am

  21. Christina Schoenthal

    Just had Mother’s Day Brunch there…Not only is Doug a gracious host, but the food and service was excellent! I wish Doug, his Chef and wonderful staff all the best!!!

    May 12th, 2011 10:26 am

  22. Fred Walter

    We loved Santi in Geyserville and at Fountaingrove too. Never had a bad meal there, and the bartender Sean is an inventive perfectionist! A team that good must be kept together as best possible. Please keep us all in touch as to where to find the staff, the al Sugo and Sean.

    May 12th, 2011 3:55 pm

  23. Fred Walter

    Did I mention the Chicken under Brick? What a loss!

    May 12th, 2011 3:56 pm

  24. Jan Andrews

    I’m so sorry to hear this. We live in the F.G. Neighborhood and also considered this our neighborhood place. Mother’s Day brunch was lovely– we will miss the fabulous servers who have taken care of us on our many trips to Santi.

    May 12th, 2011 7:50 pm

  25. Dan Christensen, Jr

    I am really sorry to hear this. I really liked the food, the employees and the owner. The food was always good and I always had great service, especially if Big Al was there. I will miss seeing Sean at the bar. I hope all land on their feet safely and sanely.

    Our hotel supported Santi when they were in Geyserville and they always made us look good by recommending them. Sigh…days gone by.

    I will miss this restaurant.

    May 13th, 2011 12:44 pm

  26. Maria

    So sorry to hear this! We loved Santi in Geyserville, and we always had dinner there when visiting Healdsburg. Had a feeling the Santa Rosa location was not going to work too well….the old rustic wine country setting was much more appealing and was always packed!

    May 16th, 2011 12:11 pm

  27. Renee Stimach

    I received a Santi Gift Certificate prior to it’s sudden closure, what do I do now??? How might I redeem it??

    June 22nd, 2011 2:22 pm

  28. Martha Bowers

    Robin, I was at Santi about 5 years ago, was up there last year drove up to Geyersville to have dinner only to find it closed. It was after my return that I realized that they had moved to Santa Rosa. We are just sitting down to plan out next trip to northern California, only to now find they have now closed. So sad. I loved the Spaghettini al sugo Calabrese. My boyfriend is an amazing cook and I really wanted to share with him. Could you send me the recipe to my personal email; I would love to make it for him. My email is mbowerm@aol.com. Thanks for your consideration!

    September 3rd, 2012 5:06 pm

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