The road that Chef Adolfo Veronese took to the sleepy wine country hamlet of Glen Ellen was an unusual one. On the heels of successful forays in the decidedly more urbane restaurant scenes of San Francisco and Hollywood, Adolfo found that the lure of Sonoma Valley and a revered 170-year-old Gristmill were too much to resist, and Aventine Glen Ellen was born.
Anchored by a 40 foot water wheel, the Gristmill has a rich historic feel. Originally built in the 1830’s by General Vallejo, it was home to one of the Valley’s first wineries, and also known as one of Jack London’s favored writing locales. Adolfo was immediately drawn to the opportunity to both preserve and enhance this stunning heritage structure.
“We were ecstatic to find this spectacular, historical building.” Adolfo noted. “It has alcoves, different levels and terraces, all of which are right up our alley”. The setting is just as spectacular. Set amidst a forested grove alongside the tranquil flow of the adjacent Sonoma Creek, Aventine offers one of the more enjoyable Al Fresco dining experiences to be found in the valley.
As dynamic as the environs might be, the food has been the real draw for Aventine since it opened its doors nearly two years ago. Adolfo is a second generation Italian Chef, following in the footsteps of his father who owned the Osteria Romana in San Francisco. He honed his culinary talents at the Culinary Institute of America, followed by time spent in the kitchens of notable restaurants in New York, Las Vegas, and San Francisco, before creating his own Aventine concept. He describes Aventine as “a modern interpretation of the Italian trattoria experience”, one in which he takes full advantage of the abundance of local Sonoma Valley ingredients.
Aventine’s menu boasts a range of classic Italian fare with just enough flourish to keep it feeling unique and exciting. Just off the dining room, a wood-fired Pizza oven imported from Genoa, turns out a dizzying array of crowd-pleasing thin-crusted offerings that are nearly impossible to resist. And take it from us, from the homemade Burrata cheese plate to the hand-crafted pasta offerings, and on to Adolfo’s steak of the day, the temptations just keep coming.
The wine list boasts lots of local favorites to choose from, from Beltane Ranch Sauvignon Blanc and Korbin Kameron Merlot, to Dane Cellars Zinfandel and Ram’s Gate Chardonnay to name just a few. Oh, and in a savvy-nod to local wine lovers, the first bottle of wine you bring to the restaurant can be enjoyed corkage free. So feel free to bring that special bottle from your latest Sonoma Valley wine tasting excursion.
While not all roads lead to Glen Ellen, there are many who are happy that Adolfo’s did.