As of Thursday, September 2, diners will finally be able to step into Dustin Valette’s ambitious and much-anticipated new restaurant, the Matheson, located in downtown Healdsburg just off the plaza. The tri-level building will house a handful of dining and drinking options: There’s an upscale restaurant; a sushi counter; two bars; and a rooftop lounge, resulting in a sort of Choose Your Own Adventure–inspired dining experience.
Valette, a Healdsburg native also behind the eponymous Valette and Valette’s Wine, opened the restaurant with partner Craig Ramsey and says the multifaceted concept is largely the byproduct of wanting to create for the community the kind of restaurant he likes to enjoy with his friends and family — whether it be a laid-back spot for pizza and drinks or a date night destination with pristine nigiri. “The Matheson is an expression of our community, of our passion and dedication not only to our farmers and ranchers, but to our way of living here in wine country,” Valette says.
The cavernous space has been redesigned by architect Cass Calder Smith and seamlessly blends historical touches with the trappings of modern-day wine country hospitality. It also represents a sort of homecoming for Valette; his great-grandfather Honore Valette owned and operated a bakery on the site. A large open kitchen anchors the main dining room, which is trimmed with wooden beams stained both natural and red. And a towering series of eight murals by artist Jay Mercado celebrates agricultural heroes, from workers harvesting and pressing grapes to a baker, an ode to Valette’s great-grandfather.
By night the main floor will be home to the Matheson restaurant, but by day wine lovers will be able to explore the 88 by-the-glass options on the state-of-the-art wine wall. For now, it’s open from 5 to 10 p.m., though it’ll eventually be open during lunchtime, too. There’s also a mezzanine with views down into the dining room and kitchen that can be used for private dining or other events.
The Matheson, spearheaded by Valette and chef de cuisine Matt Brimer, is the crown jewel of the expansive project and will be open from 5:30 to 10 p.m., by reservation only. The menu will span both a la carte and prix-fixe options, both of which will showcase Sonoma County’s growers, ranchers, fishermen, and artisans. A la carte dishes will range from $13 to $38, while tasting menus come in at $95 for five courses or $125 for eight courses. There’s an heirloom tomato and burrata salad, as well as aged Sonoma duck with plum and green coriander, Snake River wagyu beef bavette, and king salmon paired with summer squash and smoked maitake mushrooms. Pastry chef Skyler Spitz offers up thoughtfully plated desserts including a peach mousse starring local peaches and chevre.
The restaurant also encompasses the Sushi Kitchen, a 12-seat sushi counter granting a front-row view to see chef Daisuke Soma and his team at work. Valette enlisted sushi chef Ken Tominaga of Pabu and Hana Japanese Restaurant to contribute to the Matheson, giving the menu a touch of Japanese flair via dishes like kona kampachi with cucumber and a starter of Japanese milk bread with cultured butter. Prix-fixe menus feature either sashimi or a chef’s selection of nigiri.
Upstairs is where guests can kick back at Roof 106, a bar and lounge with completely separate and more casual menus of food and drinks. A 3,800-pound wood-fired Mugnaini oven is the centerpiece of the kitchen, out of which chef Brian Best and team will pull six kinds of pizzas — each built on dough made with flour from local winemaker Lou Preston’s farm and a robust California yeast strain often used in making pinot noir. The rest of the menu covers everything from blistered shishito peppers and fried sweet corn on the cob to a small list of hand rolls and a plate of crispy pork belly. And since upstairs is where the fun happens, dessert includes s’mores and not one but two kinds of Push Pops: one infused with rum and mint and the other (a kid-friendly option) flavored with yuzu and strawberry.
Jon McCarthy oversees the entire beverage program, which includes a menu of classic cocktails at the downstairs bar, with straightforward options like a martini and old fashioned, as well as modern takes on each. Meanwhile upstairs, Roof 106 slings craftier beverages including a clarified margarita and the summery Roof One-Oh-Spritz blending prosecco, rose, and Aperol. The wine list covers some 400 bottles, including Valette’s own label, Valette Wines.
The Matheson and Roof 106 are located at 106 Matheson Street in Healdsburg. Starting September 2, the Matheson is open for dinner from 5:30 to 10 p.m., Thursday to Monday. Expect limited seating both downstairs at the Matheson and at Roof 106 for the first few weeks. Reservations are required at the Matheson; walk-ins are welcome at Roof 106 and the Wine Wall & Bar.