Chico meets Maryland

Brother and sister team open East Coast-inspired eatery downtown

I lived in Boston for a brief stint in grad school, and this time of year I’m always thankful I’m back to my California roots. Shoveling snow out of my driveway required more cardio strength than I could manage, and I slid down my icy front steps almost daily, causing massive bruises that lasted through spring.

Though I was happy to get back to the sunny Golden State, one of the things I miss about Boston is the incredible seafood. Lobster rolls, crab cakes and shrimp were abundant. Living in the inland Sacramento Valley, we don’t see too much of those options.

Siblings Jennifer and Lenny Klishis have brought some East Coast flavor to town, opening a restaurant at 234 W. Third St. late last year. Jennifer runs the front of the house, with Lenny serving as the chef. The downtown eatery, where Tannins used to be, is what Jennifer called “Napa-style French bistro cuisine.” As she talked me through some of the restaurant’s menu items, I fixated on one dish in particular: the Maryland crab cake.

The Klishises are originally from Maryland—in fact, their great- grandfather opened a restaurant in 1941 in Baltimore called Rallo’s, which was family-owned for 72 years. As an homage to that legacy, Jennifer and Lenny opted to name their new venture Rallo’s West and have brought a touch of their roots to their restaurant through some signature dishes, including the crab cake.

The crab is shipped in from Maryland, and the cake is baked with sweet peppers and Old Bay Seasoning, just the way it would be prepared in Baltimore. On the smaller side, they also have peel-and-eat shrimp with Chesapeake Bay-style cocktail sauce.

If you’re not a seafood lover, don’t worry. The menu includes items such as braised pork belly, hanger steak and an artisanal cheese and charcuterie plate that allows you to pick how many and what types of meats and cheeses you want. They also serve beer and wine (including gluten-free beer). Check them out from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 4 to 10 p.m. Friday; and 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday.

Speaking of dining out A while back, I wrote about two new restaurants coming to town, and the wait is now over. Lost Dutchman Brew out by Wine Time and Unwined at 980, a wine bar and restaurant in the old Blockbuster Video on Mangrove Avenue that features a bistro and market called Ready Chef Go, are now open for business. Be sure to add both to your list of dining-out options.