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Italian bistro adds something new to Downtown

By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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Owners of a new Italian bistro in Downtown Roseville hope to bring new life to Vernon Street. The Place, which celebrates its grand opening Saturday, is bringing traditional East Coast-style Italian food to Roseville, with hand-tossed, wood-fired pizza, fresh pasta, local California wines, beer and cocktails. A project that has been nearly three years in the making, owners Michael and Moneka McDermott say they offer a “fine dining atmosphere with casual dining prices.” The menu is arguably as unpretentious as the restaurant’s owners, featuring a balance of northern and southern Italian cuisine, including pizza, gnocci, ravioli, lasagna, panini, soups and daily specials. Nearly everything on the menu at The Place is prepared by hand from scratch, including fresh pasta and the pizza dough, which takes 48 hours to prepare. Chef Michael McDermott said he plans to keep the menu modest and will modify it every so-often according to what customers are asking for. “All of our recipes are family recipes,” said his wife and co-owner Moneka McDermott, who is also a pastry chef. “We use all local fresh produce. We try to keep everything from within California.” The restaurant décor features a large, arched ceiling looming over wooden tables on custom tiled flooring amid an open kitchen surrounded by light-brown stucco walls. In the middle of the dining room sits an aged piano, which will be played by various pianists on Friday and Saturday nights. The rustic, yet comfortable look was designed nearly in its entirety by the chef-couple with a little bit of help from neighboring businesses. “We want to be an everyday place, not a special occasion place,” said Moneka McDermott. “Even though you might feel like it is a special occasion place, your wallet won’t feel like it is.” Hailing from Boston, chef Michael has been a professional chef for 15 years and said when it comes to Italian cooking, he has one philosophy … simple is best. He said a good, traditional Italian meal begins with quality ingredients and ends with as little manipulation of those ingredients as possible. “If you’ve ever been on the East Coast, the food out there is amazing,” Michael said. “You can go to any corner store, any mom-and-pop, and it is all good.” The young chef said when he and his wife moved to Roseville eight years ago, they immediately fell in love with Vernon Street and saw its potential as a vibrant community center. Their idea to open a restaurant at the current location arose after a seeing a live show at the Roseville Theater on Valentine’s Day. “We got out of the show and about 50 people flooded the streets,” Michael said. “I wanted something to drink, something to snack on. There was not a single thing open. We all window shopped and then went home. What a loss.” He said a volatile economy has not dissuaded the couple to open the restaurant, but rather encouraged them to do so. “It seems like the best time to open,” he said. “Things are cheap. When everybody else is selling their stuff, I am buying. If I can survive now, it’s only going to get better, right?” Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT. ---------- The Place 211 Vernon St., Roseville Hours: Wednesday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. or later Sunday, 9 a.m. 4 p.m. Closed Monday, Tuesday www.thatlittleitalianplace.com