On any given winter evening, I’m somewhat prone to order hearty things like ossobuco or lamb shank for dinner. It’s superb comfort food and, in most good Italian, Continental, or New American restaurants, it’s a safe bet. Ralph’s Bistro serves up a very good lamb shank, with well-integrated flavors and decent portions for the price. It wasn’t on par with their gigantic and delicious duck confit, but still a solid choice.
The Spot: Ralph’s Bistro, Healdsburg CA
A lot of really good restaurants survive in Healdsburg and, while others may get the notoriety, Bistro Ralph’s unpretentious vibe and unbelievably good martinis keep locals recommending it to tourists who weren’t savvy enough to make reservations at Cyrus a month in advance. It’s a bit narrow and, like many other local restaurants, a bit noisier than it should be, but it serves solid fare at hearty portions for the prices. The only downside was the service; our waitress was distracted and just let us alone too long. Thankfully, another waiter noticed and picked up her slack, His smiles and friendly personality dispelled the specter of our irritations, which were beginning to curl around us like forlorn Japanese ghouls. Or maybe the second martini did it.
THE GRADE: Very Good
THE DAMAGE: $27
THE SKINNY: BISTRO RALPH
109 Plaza Street, Healdsburg CA
Phone: (707) 433-1380
Website: www.bistroralph.com (Note: only basic info online to date; no seasonally updated menu)
Hours:Lunch 11:30 – 2:30 (Mon-Sat); Dinner 5:30 – 9:00 (Mon-Thurs) – 9:30 Friday & Saturday; closed Sundays.