A new restaurant in Healdsburg that doesn’t have a wood-fired oven? Yes, it’s true. Channeling Mediterranean flavors of another sort, Cafe Lucia, has opened in the former Affronti location on Healdsburg Avenue.
Tucked well back from the street, brother and sister team Manuel and Lucia Azevedo have brought the “Nova Cozinha Portuguesa” or new Portuguese cuisine of Manuel’s highly acclaimed La Salette restaurant in Sonoma to their northern neighbors. Many of the dishes will be familiar to La Salette regulars, including richly-flavored and Portuguese nose-to-tail “tasca” or tasting plates of tripe stew, blood sausage, pig’s feet terrine and sardine pate.
The menu also includes Manuel’s Caldo Verde (Portugal’s national soup of beef consumme) steak with piri piri (a type of chili) fries and Feijoada Complete (stewed beef, pork and beans) as well as simpler “all-access” sandwiches like a crab melt, pulled pork sandwich or BLT for lunch.
Don’t skimp on the homemade rolls, made with a bit of sugar for a slightly sweet, yeasty taste. If you’re new to Portuguese food, its worth some culinary exploration. Go for authentic eats like Caldeirada, a fish stew with shrimp, sea bass, mussels and lobster fume, pan-seared day boat scallops with Japanese sweet potatoes and a traditional dessert of sweet rice, malassadinhas (tiny fried donuts) and almond ice cream with fig cake. With a glass of sweet Port, naturally.
Prices range from around $10 to $25 for entrees, open for lunch and dinner daily.
Cafe Lucia, 235 Healdsburg Ave. at Mill St., 707-431-1113. cafelucia.net