The Dining Divas: Spataro Restaurant and Bar

Guests: Gayle Garbolino-Mojica, Placer County superintendent of schools; her mother, Gina Garbolino, mayor of Roseville; Stacey Hodge, director of community relations and special events for Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern California; her husband, Tim Hodge, an excavator contractor; and Rick Kushman, The Good Life columnist for The Sacramento Bee

Where: Spataro Restaurant and Bar, 1415 L St., Sacramento; (916) 440-8888; paragarys.com

Benefiting organizations: Placer Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Ronald McDonald House Charities

1-second review: From Gayle Garbolino-Mojica: “Modern, high-end cuisine with an Italian theme.”

Ambiance: “A professional, business-lunch atmosphere,” said Stacey Hodge, a Spataro first-timer. The room was filled with legislative officials and lobbyists, including Assembly Speaker John Pérez.

Navigating the menu: Start with the bruschetta with crushed chickpeas, rapini and Calabrian chili oil; finish with the warm chocolate hazelnut cake with vanilla bean gelato. Our favorite dishes: polpettini (petite meatballs braised in tomato sauce and served with creamy polenta); fritto misto; spaghetti carbonara; roasted salmon salad with beets and fingerling potatoes; burger with fontina and prosciutto; and tagliata (grilled skirt steak).

Commentary
: Divas Paulette Bruce and Bernice Hagen, carbonara fans, praised Spataro’s for its wonderful sauce—not too heavy. Guest Rick Kushman found the salmon salad fresh and lively.

Wine time
: Diva Peg Tomlinson-Poswall chose the wines with input from chef/owner Kurt Spataro and Rick Kushman: Teruzzi & Puthod 2006 Toscana Terre di Tufi, Michele Chiarlo 2006 Barbera d’Asti Superiore and Regaleali 2006 Nevo d’Avola.

Quote of the day
: “Crispy pig’s ears are the new pork belly on edgy menus,” according to Diva Joan Leineke.

The Dining Divas—Gloria Glyer, Paulette Bruce, Bernice Hagen, Joan Leineke, Gayla Mace and Peg Tomlinson-Poswall—have been wining and dining together since 1993. Every month, they lunch at an area restaurant, taking as their guests people who placed winning bids at charity events. To date, they have raised more than $320,000 for local charities and nonprofits.

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