Carmichael bistro brings friends and neighbors together
By Greg Sabin
In 2010, Matt and Yvette Woolston opened a new restaurant in Carmichael. A follow-up to their much-lauded North Sacramento spot, The Supper Club, this new enterprise was more of a neighborhood joint, with a focus on wine, pizza and scratch cooking.
More than a decade later, Matteo’s Pizza & Bistro still attracts local diners looking for an upscale but unfussy evening of quality eats.
On a recent visit, my wife and I ran into good friends, the Au family of Carmichael. They were leaving as we were coming in. They gushed about the meal they just finished.
“You’ve got to have the ribs,” Dr. William Au, a retired neurologist, told me.
“You can’t miss with the crab cakes,” his wife Yvonne said.
“Lobster ravioli,” offered son Justin, sharing a confidence between conspirators.
Another son—Brandon—nodded in agreement as if to endorse them all.
“Oh, and this Argentinian red,” said Dr. Au, pointing to the half-case he held under one arm. “It’s the best. Take some home with you!”
This lovely meeting reminded me how much I appreciate chance encounters with old friends. Our pandemic lifestyles cut down on unplanned re-connections. Seeing the Au family summed up everything Matteo’s is about.
From the variety of dishes to the neighborhood vibe and focus on interesting quality wines, Matteo’s brings skill and passion together to create delightful memories and beautiful food.
The offerings skew toward modern American comfort food with an Italian twist. Most nights, the specials list is nearly as long as the regular menu. The wine list is long enough to take much of the night to read it. Matt (Matteo) Woolston doesn’t think small, even with a neighborhood restaurant.
Dr. Au’s recommendation of ribs was spot-on. The St. Louis-style baby back ribs were lacquered with an incredible smoky-sweet barbecue sauce. The ribs, tender yet firm, came with a side of perfect hand-cut fries and a simple but marvelous pile of slaw. My wife is a tough critic on coleslaw. There wasn’t a shred of cabbage left on the plate.
I couldn’t pass on one of my favorite dishes, beef stroganoff. Woolston goes with porcini-crusted sliced filet mignon and wild mushrooms over fettuccine. The gorgeous cream and Madeira sauce is so glossy you can see your reflection.
A busy and effective pizza oven turns out pies rustic and modern. And although pizza is in the name of the place it’s only a small part of the menu. Steer toward the “Stu,” a pie loaded with prosciutto, wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, mozzarella, fontina and arugula.
On top of lunch and dinner and a Saturday brunch featuring an egg-topped “Rise & Shine” pizza, the other focus of Matteo’s is wine. A well-stocked and bustling wine shop features wines from all over the planet at prices across the affordability range. Savvy wine lovers can find single bottles, cases and everything in between.
The shop features an ongoing series of winemaker dinners and tastings that may introduce you to new wines. You can trust Woolston’s cooking to bring out every element of a wine’s profile.
Like all great neighborhood eateries, there’s something for everyone, even kids. Mac and cheese, simple pizzas and a darned good cheeseburger are available every night.
So, whether you’re looking for an upscale date night, an evening of wine exploration or just a quality family meal, you will get what you need at Matteo’s. And you might even run into old friends.
Matteo’s Pizza & Bistro is at 5132 Arden Way at Fair Oaks Blvd.; (916) 779-0727; pizzamatteo.com.
Greg Sabin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.