Odds are you’ve driven by Adamo’s Kitchen without knowing it. The tiny Italian restaurant at P and 21st streets in Midtown doesn’t stick out, and that’s how owners Chiara and John Adamo want it. Theirs is a neighborhood joint with just enough seats for those in the know.
Opened in the summer of 2014—“I only remember because we doodled our names and date in the soft concrete when we were renovating” Chiara tells me—Adamo’s was not a restaurant that aimed for a big splash.
Yet, through nine years of hard work and considerable skill, the Adamo family curated passionate patrons who come from near and far for handmade pastas, all-day sauces, and the Mama and Nona recipes that fill the menu.
John and Chiara Adamo, father and daughter, never owned or ran a restaurant before, but it was something they always wanted to do. When brother and son Polo returned in 2016 from cooking at Gary Danko, one of San Francisco’s most prestigious restaurants, the family operation was complete.
No restaurant around Sacramento is quite like Franquette, the French-inspired bistro in West Sac’s Bridge District. Combining French dishes, coffee and wine with a California casualness, this year-old business fills missing pieces in the local culinary scene.
But first a question. Where have all the French restaurants gone? Look around and you need one hand to count the places focused on Gallic gastronomy. Arden-Arcade’s Plan B Restaurant is a standout with its insanely good mussels. A few others might come to mind.
But since the closure of Café Rolle in 2019, and given the popularity and trendiness of foods from previously overlooked cuisines, French cooking isn’t having a moment.
On a winter’s afternoon, golden light casts shadows over a fence that marks the Harper Junior High School garden. I walk with Meghan Covert Russell, executive director of the Davis Farm to School program, and Garry Pearson, who coordinates garden volunteers. Green tips and soft leaves of garlic, spinach, beets, sugar snap peas, broccoli, radishes and cauliflower unfold on the ground.
As we walk the garden rows, wider than normal to allow access, Pearson says he sees kids with their counselors come to the garden to “just veg out.” Covert Russell explains how the garden, “especially after COVID, connects students to each other and their school sites again. They get their hands dirty, and have the best time pulling weeds.”
When restaurant partners Chris Sinclair, Raphael Jimenez Rivera and Matt Brown created Bodega, they wanted an East Coast feel with Caribbean flair. It’s a taste of home they can share with their West Coast neighborhood.
“In New York and New Jersey you can get Puerto Rican food, Caribbean food almost everywhere,” Sinclair tells me. “It’s as common as tacos are out here on the West Coast.”
The neighborhood approves. The reception has been stellar since Bodega’s August opening. Diners come from around the corner and across the region to visit the Pocket shopping center where the restaurant sits.
Despite rave reviews, Sinclair thinks of Bodega as a humble neighborhood bar and family restaurant. “Two of the three owners live in the neighborhood, and all of us have kids,” he says. “We want neighbors to come out for a lively dinner, families to come over after the soccer game, and everything in between.”
Jayna Gyro is easy to miss. The corner of Alhambra and Folsom boulevards sports several chain eateries, and, without a closer look, Jayna Gyro blends in and disappears.
But take that extra look. You’ll learn this new Mediterranean restaurant paints outside the lines of “fast-casual” and brings an unexpected level of sophistication.
Jayna, the third California restaurant of Yusuf Topal and his ownership partners, improves the relationship between casual and fine dining. It’s no wonder. Topal’s other restaurants, Tarla Mediterranean Grill in Napa and the first Jayna Gyro in Emeryville, sit proudly in the upmarket and quick-eats categories.
Sacramento’s version of Jayna blends the best of these worlds. It’s an order-at-the-counter place with a narrowly focused menu and small drink menu. But lurking in the peripheral vision is an interior bright with touches of the Greek isles.