Restaurant News & Reviews

First Impressions: Revamped Paragary’s adds a touch of Paris

With the makeover, Paragary's interior is lighter and more open.
With the makeover, Paragary's interior is lighter and more open.

First Impressions visits dining spots that are new or have undergone recent transitions. Have a candidate for First Impressions? E-mail us at taste@sacbee.com

The patio is still there, and it’s lovely.

During the 15 months Paragary’s was closed while undergoing a $1 million makeover, one question persisted: What would become of the patio? That fenced-off courtyard had remained lively and welcoming throughout the years, even as the restaurant’s interior design visibly aged.

Post-makeover, outside and inside are equally fresh, with new, large glass doors between the two creating a sense of a unified whole the restaurant previously lacked. Though the patio’s bar is gone, its 60-year-old olive trees and outdoor fireplace remain, along with its inviting essence.

Changes to the dining room were dramatic. The ceiling is higher, the windows larger, the walls painted white. Black bistro bar stools and a daringly patterned, black-, white-and-gray floor with a repeating, fleur-de-lys-esque pattern (take that, all you distressed-concrete Sacramento restaurant floors) complete the look.

Sacramento restaurant legend Randy Paragary’s eponymous venture, first opened in 1983, now evokes Paris while still looking enough like its previous self in structure – bar to the left, dining room to the right, as one enters – that old-timers will not be unsettled.

Same goes for the new menu, which has been Frenched-up by chef de cuisine Scott Ostrander (formerly of Paragary’s Esquire Grill) and executive chef Kurt Spataro while retaining some of the restaurant’s historical California-Mediterranean influences.

The reopened Paragary’s is enough like its previous self in structure that old-timers will not be unsettled.

Menu: The French influence is strong, from the lunch menu’s croque-monsieur to the dinner menu’s steak au poivre. There’s also a significant amount of seafood on the new dinner menu, including poached lobster salad, wild Alaskan halibut and Maine diver scallops. Paragary’s favorites such as the sliced mushroom salad and hand-cut rosemary pappardelle remain on the lunch and dinner menus.

Price point: Hors d’oeuvres start at $9, salads at $10. The wood-fired pizza, with San Marzano tomatoes and fiore di latte, is $15. Lunch sandwiches start at $11. Lunch entrees start at $16. Dinner entrees except the pappardelle ($18) are $20 plus.

Ambiance: Paragary’s has maintained its romantic feel from before, but made it more communal now that diners inside can see outside to the patio. It’s romantic in the manner of Paris – not just for lovers, but for everyone.

Drinks: Specialty cocktails include a list of “French ‘75’”-inspired sparkling-wine drinks, including the “Paragary’s ’83,” with peach-infused gin. The wine list, though international in scope, skews Northern Californian and includes selections from Napa, Sonoma and Amador counties. The draft beer list includes Track 7 and Sudwerk offerings.

Service: Friendly and attentive.

First impressions: The food, on our lunch visit, was first-rate. The chicken-liver mousse, served on small pieces of buttery brioche, is earthy yet subtle in flavor. The panna cotta melted on the tongue, as it should. And old-school dishes more than hold up. The mushroom salad, with its thin slices of mushroom and Jarlsberg cheese, tasted lighter than its previous iteration, its individual flavors more clearly highlighted.

Try it if: You are curious about the makeover, or never went to the old Paragary’s but just like an elegant dining experience.

Forget it if: Boldly patterned flooring alarms you.

PARAGARY’S

  • 1401 28th St., Sacramento
  • Information: 916-457-5737, www.paragarys.com
  • Hours: Opens for dinner at 5 p.m. every day; lunch is 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday. Sunday brunch: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
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