Dining at Francis Ford Coppola’s House

Okay, so it wasn’t actually his “house.” But it was one of his restaurants — Rustic–located in Geyserville, CA. Since my husband and my sister’s husband both have their birthdays in April, we like to try and find a way to celebrate by doing something all together when we can. Friends had told us about this restaurant made up of Francis Ford Coppola’s favorite foods and located at a winery he purchased in 2006. We decided to give it a try, and on a warm beautiful April day, we met in Novato and took the 45 minute drive together.

The winery was right off the highway, and we could tell as we pulled into the parking lot that this was a swanky place. We posed for a photo on the curving steps leading up to an outdoor area that featured a swimming pool, a bandstand with a jazz band playing, and an outdoor bar/cafe where you could buy food and drinks. The location definitely had the feel of resort, unlike many of the surrounding wineries in our area, which tend to be smaller and more intimate.

Kris had brought a bottle of champagne, and they charged a very reasonable corkage fee and gave us a bucket of ice and some plastic wine glasses. We sat outside in the sunshine and listened to the band, talked, and drank while we waited for our table.

Inside, the restaurant is large, cozy, and noisy. Large windows look out onto a rolling valley of tended grapevines and oak trees. The best part, not surprisingly, is the food. The entrees are made up of Francis’s Favorites, recipes of foods that he’s enjoyed while traveling around the world. Part of the fun is reading the menu, where Coppola talks about his inspiration for each meal. I had the Habit-Forming Ribs which were sweet and tangy and practically melted off the bone. Instead of bread, they serve Zeppole, which are small, airy, deep-fried fritters that you swirl around in olive oil. The bad thing about the Zeppole is that they don’t give you nearly enough and you have to pay for each order, which can really add up since you don’t really want to stop eating them.

After lunch, we wandered around and discovered a wine shop/movie museum. Numerous display cases showed off memorabilia from Coppola’s films, including his Academy Award statues and a car from the movie Tucker. Michael said the Oscars weren’t real, but they looked real to me.

We had coffee and dessert by the pool and the boys played bocci ball for a while. All in all, it was a great way to spend the day, and we’ll definitely go again.

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