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Why Is Francis Ford Coppola Opening an 'American Native' Restaurant?

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It debuts on November 5 in Sonoma

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A Werowocomoco rendering
A Werowocomoco rendering
Werowocomoco

Francis Coppola has been playing coy lately on plans to open a new restaurant, but he’s now come proudly out with all the details. Located at his Virginia Dare Winery, the restaurant is called — wait for it — Werowocomoco, and it is “American Native”-themed.

Seem random? That’s because it basically is. It’s a very tenuous connection — the claimed link to the concept is that Virginia Dare Winery has been open since 1835, and its “mother vine” traces back to one of America’s first English settlements in what is now North Carolina. Thus, according to the press release, its “heritage is steeped in American native myth and early American winemaking.” It’s unclear why Werowocomoco (pronounced like it’s spelled: Wero-wo-como-ko), a 17th century Algonquin settlement in Virginia, was the one specifically chosen as inspiration, but to Coppola’s credit, he received a “personal blessing” from the Pamunkey chief (whose tribe has ties to Werowocomoco) to borrow the name and “honor the cultural heritage of the Pamunkey people and their vibrant history.”

So, moving forward with that, the menu — which Coppola created himself — is an interesting mix of foods. You can see it in full below, but highlights include a bison burger, bison ribs, make-your-own fry bread tacos, salmon sashimi tacos, and decidedly un-American Illy coffee. Wines, of course, all originate from Virginia Dare Winery, with some others sprinkled in.

This concept will certainly add to the discussion of cultural appropriation in SF that has lately sparked essays from people like chef Daniel Patterson and East Bay Express’ food critic Luke Tsai. But Coppola has always been known for his ... quirky restaurant decisions. While he first rose to fame for his film career, his wines at Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Sonoma have gained critical acclaim, and restaurants followed. He also owns Cafe Zoetrope in North Beach, where 100,000 gallons of horse urine were applied to the copper outside to turn it its current green color.

Werowocomoco, which has 66 seats inside as well as a patio, opens on Saturday, November 5, with a free open house on Friday, November 4 for Geyserville residents.

Werowocomoco

22281 Chianti Rd., Geyserville, CA 95425 (707) 735-3575 Visit Website

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