Chef Nicholas Petti's Biography
Chef/owner Nicholas Petti opened Mendo Bistro, at 301 North Main Street (Upstairs at The Company Store) in downtown Fort Bragg, California in January of 1999 as an affordably priced fine dining option for coastal residents. Quickly, this friendly bistro has become the local favorite by offering city food at country prices. Recent feature articles in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, The Sacramento Bee and winning the Mendocino Crab & Wine Days Crabcake Cook-off 2 years in a row have helped to cement Mendo Bistro's reputation as one of the North Coast's premier dining destinations. The winning Crab Cake recipe is on-line for your cooking enjoyment.
The menu makes good use of local products, like wild mushrooms and seafood. The fresh, homemade pastas range from linguine to rigatoni and gnocchi and are available by the pound to prepare at home as well for dining at the bistro. A unique menu option allowing guests to choose their ingredient, how it's prepared and choice of sauces is a hands down favorite. "Everyone likes to play with their food. We make it easy for them" says Nicholas. Chef Petti also bakes his own bread and makes the desserts, including a Candy Cap Crème Brulée with Spicy Chocolate Bark that is a perfect end to a meal at Mendo Bistro. That is if you don't opt for the Chocolate Volcano, a barely set chocolate cake whose molten center resembles lava.
Although Mendo Bistro's clientele is largely local, Chef Petti makes sure to welcome out of town visitors as well. Reservations are accepted for parties of 7 or larger only and corkage is $10 per 750 ml bottle.
After graduating from the California Culinary Academy in 1991 Chef Petti moved to Mendocino and spent the next few years at various coastal restaurants. In 1995 an opportunity to join alternative country rockers Whiskeytown as a multi-instrumentalist lured him and his wife Jaimi Parsons (daughter of former Byrds drummer Gene Parsons) to Chapel Hill, NC. The rock and roll lifestyle didn't work for the chef and he returned to his other instrument, the stove.
Upon moving back to Northern California the newly renovated Company Store made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Seeing there were great restaurants and affordable restaurants in the area but none that were great and affordable Nicholas came on board on the mezzanine level of the 90 year old historic building. Some some people think of Fort Bragg as a sleepy logging town, but Chef Petti knew people were starving for good food and an inviting atmosphere. The second floor location has prompted more than one local wag to comment, "Hey from up here you can watch both cars go by." Although Fort Bragg retains its small-town charm the residents are quite sophisticated and have responded enthusiastically to the cuisine offered at Mendo Bistro.