While procrastinating partners were scrambling Tuesday for last-minute Valentine’s Day gifts, Deneb Williams and Elizabeth-Rose Mandalou were busy opening Allora, their newest restaurant, in East Sacramento.
Both husband and wife love seafood, and Williams grew up surrounded by ocean life in the Puget Sound. But the Italian restaurant’s inspiration is found on the 22-foot wine tower stocked with Italian grapes as well as a few Greek productions, the latter of which have been Allora’s best sellers despite their relative lack of popularity across the U.S.
“I chose to do a wine list that I was advised against doing, because people thought some of what we have wouldn’t sell in Sacramento,” Mandalou said. “But people in Sacramento are much more adventurous than people give them credit for.”
With no full liquor license, wine can be found in many of Allora’s cocktails such as the Pompelmo Fizz (made with grapefruit wine apertif, prosecco and vanilla bitters). Other mixed drinks include a Negroni Sbagliato and a Burly Beverages cola mixed with a lager.
A meal at Allora might start with “cooked pickled raw,” a bruschetta-like dish with house-made ricotta and grilled seasonal vegetables piled atop grilled ciabatta, or a carne cruda of raw beef, garlic toast, egg and bitter greens.
Entrees include a bucatini pasta with Dungeness crab and sea urchin, a sea scallop dish with apple and fennel and pulpo (octopus) with balsamic, fennel, gnocchi and ink. The seafood-averse crowd might opt for pork cheek or skirt steak.
A former Ella bartender who passed the Court of Master Sommeliers advanced sommelier exam last year, Mandalou will dish out wine recommendations while former Empress Tavern head chef Joe Pruner runs Allora’s kitchen. Williams will jump between Allora and the couple’s two other restaurants, Woodlake Tavern and Uptown Pizza Kitchen.
“This is definitely the highest tier of what we offer,” Mandalou said. “We have fast casual pizza, casual but nice with Woodlake Tavern, then Allora is our upscale casual.”
Hanging overhead lights illuminate Allora’s modern decor, including a “floating” cantilevered table, plush green chairs and gaping windows at the storefront. When the weather heats up, Pruner will pull microgreens and edible flowers from the restaurant’s “living wall” outside.
Williams and Mandalou hope to roll out brunch and lunch service sometime in April, though no prospective dishes have been identified.
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saurday
Entree prices: Range from $24 to $32
Address: 5215 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento