| October 4, 2012

Upon entering Petaluma at 1356 1st Ave, you are greeted with the traditional warmth of a charming Italian restaurant.  Dim lighting and dark cherry wood captures your eye while the smells from the rich Italian dishes lingered from the kitchen.  We were greeted by an adoring woman, Vesna, whom has worked there for over 24 years. I knew right then that this was going to be a wonderful experience.

Petaluma is very lucky to have such a great executive chef, Chris Coleman.  In fact, he won Chopped in 2009.  He used to work in the Hamptons as a private chef for celebrities such as Kate Hudson, Leonardo DiCaprio and many more.  When I asked why he chose to work for Petaluma his response was simple, “because I like a challenge.  New York is a difficult market and the Upper East Side is even more of a challenge so I figured if I could make it here then I could conquer anything.”  He explained how many people stereotype him because they often assume he can only cook spicy food so he wanted to show people that he indeed could cook traditional Italian-American dishes with a flare.  I was unsure how this experience was going to be but it turned out to be a success.

Not only was Chef Coleman a delight but the entire staff was pleasant. They brought coloring activities and entertainment for my children, which is rare in the city. A basket with a full array of bread, ranging from homemade crunchy breadsticks, foccacia, and Italian bread pleased the table until the appetizers were brought.  In addition to the basket of bread were fried olives.  These olives were hot and amazing.  They came with an Italian traditional dipping sauce, which had hints of anchovies, olive oil, sun dried tomatoes and capers.  My three year old could not get enough of them.

We chose to have the traditional calamari because I have found restaurants don’t cook it correctly so it seemed like a good test to start our meal.  Chef Coleman passed.  It was far from a ring of rubber.  Often restaurants serve either a tartar sauce or a marinara sauce, which is a dilemma for my family because we like both.  But this appetizer came with both.

The next dish we tried was a special they were running that day.  It was a pizza with fresh Parmesan- Romano cheese, fresh tomatoes and basil topped with a large piece of prosciutto. The dough was crispy and you could tell that it was homemade.  It was refreshing to be in a restaurant with pizza that didn’t taste like it came from the corner for a dollar a slice.  As we continued on through the night the dishes continued to get better and better and they offer an extensive wine list to pair with each dish to create the entire Italian experience.

Petaluma has been an Upper East Side tradition for 27 years.  Their customers are loyal and it is obvious why.  With fantastic, fresh food at reasonable prices it is a perfect place to have dinner or even your next event.