Located in the Event Center at Sonoma Mountain Village, is close to the heart of Rohnert Park and Cotati. Getting there by car doesn’t take long. But the café and bar at 1100 Valley House Dr. are also off the beaten track. Going there feels like a get-away from home.
Sally Tomatoes is a cool oasis on a hot summer afternoon or an evening for ethnic food and for all-American cooking, such as an “all-American burger” ($9.75) served with American cheese, thousand island dressing, lettuce, tomato and red onion.
The Friday night special ($7.50) is all you can eat pizza and salad, and the Thursday night special, for the same price, is all you can eat pasta – both meat and vegetarian – with salad and with garlic bread.
Many of the steady lunch customers work right at for AT&T and Comcast. The most popular sandwich with the lunch crowd is the Sally Club ($7.25) with roast turkey, smoked bacon, avocado, lettuce and tomato. It’s made with cream cheese, not mayonnaise, and with cranberry sauce, too.
There’s a genuine Reuben ($7.25) made with real beef brisket, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on rye bread.
is the owner of Sally Tomatoes with his longtime business partner, Bill Pettibone. Will Hodges is the versatile chef. Giudice’s wife, Suzanne, works in the kitchen preparing soups and lunch specials such as arancini, a croquette made from arboro rice – a dish that originated in Sicily.
“I usually cook what they tell me to cook,” Suzanne says. “Sometimes I get creative.”
Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Giudice calls his style of cooking, “the New York-Italian-Jewish-thing.” That means traditional delicatessen dishes such as a hefty roast beef dip, served “au jus,” with horseradish cream, sliced tomatoes and garlic bread ($7.25).
Giudice is a second generation Italian American, and many of the menu items on the menu reflect traditional southern Italian cooking, such as eggplant Parmesan, meatballs with tomato sauce and manicotti, a pasta stuffed with spinach, ricotta, pine nuts, mozzarella and covered in a tomato sauce ($8.50).
The name, Sally Tomatoes, comes from the movie and novel Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote. In the film, Holly Golightly, played by Audrey Hepburn, visits a gangster named Sally Tomato who’s behind prison bars. Giudice and his partner turned “Tomato” into “Tomatoes” to avoid trouble from Warner Brothers.
About 60 percent of the business at Sally Tomatoes is catering, Giudice says. He and his crew do 500-plus events a year.
Moreover, many local nonprofit organizations, such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and , regularly hold fundraisers at Sally Tomatoes. School and church groups are found hosting events there often as well.
“We believe that community is part of the sustainability equation,” Giudice says. “We help to build alliances, and we aim for synergy too.”
At Sally Tomatoes, there’s a wide selection of appetizers including scrumptious beer batter onion rings ($4.75), fried kosher dill pickles served with buttermilk ranch dressing ($4.75), and homemade potato chips ($3.95). Every day there’s a different soup of the day ($4).
There are eight salads, such as Suzanne’s ($7.95) that includes baby greens, toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, Gorgonzola cheese, and slices of mandarin orange. The dressing is a balsamic honey vinaigrette.
Pork sliders with barbecue sauce and cole slaw ($9.75) are a favorite and vegetarians often order the asparagus and pesto lasagna ($8.95).
Fountain drinks come in a wide variety: Dr. Pepper, root beer, Pepsi, and lemonade, plus San Pellegrino Italian sodas ($1.95).
The bar is open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and it’s a cool place for cool drinks made by Jason Dunham, a native of Alabama who has found a home away from home at Sally Tomatoes.
“I had never been away from Alabama before I came here two years ago,” he says. “Now, the people who come here to drink and eat feel like family.”
Sally Tomatoes Event Center and Catering Company is at 1100 Valley House Drive, Rohnert Park, CA. 94928. For questions or additional information call 707-665-9472. Hours are Monday through Wednesday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 7:30 a.m. to midnight and Saturdays 5 p.m. to midnight.