777 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965 (See Map Below) 415-332-7771
Neighborhood: Downtown Sausalito (Ferry Pier). Website and reservations are here. Menus are here for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Wine List is here. Free valet parking next door at the Casa Madrona Hotel.
Open for Coffee and pastries (early morning), Lunch and Dinner.
#1 Downtown and #5 overall on the OurSausalito.com Best Restaurants List for Winter, 2013
#3 on our Heat Top TenTM list of the best special occasion restaurants in Sausalito for Winter, 2013
#4 on our Long Memories Top TenTM list of the best special occasion restaurants in Sausalito for Winter, 2013
|Named to Michael Bauer's Chronicle List of Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants for 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006 and 2005|
|Named to the OurSausalito.com list of Best Breakfast Spots in Sausalito for 2013|
Fast Forward SummaryTM: Poggio is an award-winning restaurant that makes you feel like you're dining in Italy. In nice weather sitting at the tables on the sidewalk is just like being in Europe... and after 2012 trips to Scandinavia and Germany I can say that the prices here are better! At dinner call for a reservation to avoid a long wait. Legendary restaurateur Larry Mindel came out of retirement to do the project, but despite the fabulous architecture this is not a pricey, overdone temple. Yes, you can cross paths with famous actors and rockers here (see our story below), but it's a place for everybody rather than the Tragically Trendy. The focus is on serving good, authentic Italian food with fresh ingredients, all at prices similar to the other nice restaurants nearby. Good service, strong wine list. Occupies the ground floor of the modern wing of the Casa Madrona Hotel. Joined by sister restaurant Copita this year.
Poggio Trattoria: The Details
Poggio is tucked into the Casa Madrona Hotel complex at the northern end of the historical Sausalito visitors area along Bridgeway, this is a little piece of Italy in San Francisco.
Here are my favorite things about Poggio, with some miscellaneous comments and information thrown in as well:
1. Lots of restaurants in California have tables on the sidewalk to make it feel like Europe, but when you go there you feel like you're sitting on the sidewalk next to your office. At Poggio, when you sit on the sidewalk you only have to blink your eyes a couple of times to believe you're in Europe.
2. Cold night? The dining room has an aura of class. Lots of dark wood tones mixed in with lighter colors so the mood stays up. Bring a cabinetmaker friend and he or she will start running their hands across the wainscoting. It's usually busy and buzzing , but you can talk to the people across the table without having to shout to be heard. (See Michael Bauer's SFGate articles on restaurant noise levels, and we salute Bauer for his common sense.)
3 The menu. They focus on fresh organic local produce and high quality seafood and meat, and the menu changes significantly every day. Downside is that the dish you loved may only be available for a couple of weeks when the ingredients are in season.
4. Just two blocks from the Sausalito Ferry dock, where the Blue and Gold service connects to Pier 41 in San Francisco and the Golden Gate Ferry connects to the San Francisco Ferry Building. Our guide to the Ferry service is here.
5. Friendly, not snooty service. The bartender is Italian and very warm and welcoming. But this isn't warmth substituting for knowledge: if you have a question about wine they'll make sure you get a sophisticated answer. Sometime during the evening the General Manager or the Manager on duty will come over to your table and ask you if you're enjoying your meal... and they'll actually listen to what you say when you answer instead of smiling, nodding politely and moving on.
6. The locals, the tourists and the celebrities all get treated the same. One night I was here with a friend and four well-known rockers were in the booth across from us -- I assume they were recording at a local studio. The same server was assigned to both tables, and throughout our meal we were treated with as much respect and attention as The Famous Guys.
7. The pizza. Baked in a wood-fired oven, fresh ingredients and a home-made, oval shape with a thin crust. And at a reasonable price for a good Bay Area restaurant.
8. The pasta and salads. Very very fresh.
9. Great spot for a romantic dinner for two. Guys, this place will impress her. Works well for a first date or an anniversary dinner.
10. Their "this is a dish you don't usually see outside Italy" menu items. These tend to be specials they do only for special occasions, but ask if they have anything like that on the menu when you go in.
11. The desserts look terrific but I have to say that I usually don't order dessert with dinner. Of course there was that gelato the one time and there was a time I had the creme brulee...
12. Free valet parking. If you read this site for long you'll know I love the word "free"!
Other items of note:
To get to the restrooms you have to take a little elevator to the second floor. It's actually fun, but some people look at you funny when you tell them, and I've seen patrons irritated by the process.
For locals and early-risers: Poggio opens the front area of the restaurant as an Italian coffee shop at 6:30 in the morning, where they offer continental breakfast. Great coffee. I am a world-class judge of pastries and these are great. And they taste all the better sitting at a sidewalk table.
They filter their own water (I admit I tuned out when they explained the Italian technology), and offer a complimentary carafe of either gas or still when you sit down. I like this way better than paying $5 for bottled water the way you do at so many places. Of course, Sausalito tap water is pretty darn good to start with.
One time I had an hour to kill and I stopped by Poggio. I sat at a bar table, took out my laptop and ordered a Diet Coke. The bartender who served me, whom I had not met, talked pleasantly with me off-and-on for what probably added up to ten minutes. That's not what usually happens when you order a soda at a restaurant bar in the late afternoon when they're trying to fill the till during Happy Hour. It underscores that the focus on guests here is very strong whether the tab is going to be $3 or $30 or $300.
When we're sitting outside here I do wish I had a magic wand to stop the Golden Gate Transit buses from driving by with a roar on Bridgeway. And, ironically, sidewalk dining at Poggio is a lot nicer than most similar places we've eaten in Rome!
Note: Poggio is a charter sponsor of OurSausalito.com.
Google Map Instructions: Use the "+" and "-" buttons to zoom in and out, the arrow keys to scroll the map, and the SAT button to see the satellite view.
Something else that people should know about Poggio? Have your own favorite Poggio celebrity sighting? Have you discovered that Poggio means "monkey wrench" in an obscure Piemonte dialect? Disagree with any of our suggestions? Please leave a comment below so our readers get the full story.