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Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Shadowbrook, Villa Azteca, Wild Fish

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Check, Please! Bay Area, season 19, episode 2, airs Thursday, April 25, at 7:30 pm, on KQED 9. See other television airtimes.

Check, Please! Bay Area makes more waves in the Monterey Bay Area! Located next to Soquel Creek in Capitola, the historic Shadowbrook serves up their signature Pacific Rim salmon and prime rib alongside an extensive and locally-focused wine list, all set in rustic yet undeniably classy quarters. Then, with unique favorites like buttery roasted bone marrow, Villa Azteca brings an unexpected twist to Mexican cuisine in Salinas — alongside classics like chile relleno and chilaquiles. Finally, just off of Lighthouse Avenue, Wild Fish in Pacific Grove dishes up organic bistro fare — from ling cod katsu to bouillabaisse — that’s locally fished, farmed, and foraged. Reporter Cecilia Phillips rounds out this week’s episode with a visit to Gizdich Ranch in Watsonville for a taste of its jams, fruit picking, and famous seasonal pies.

Host Leslie Sbrocco joins guests Ruthie Velasquez, Mike Mollica and Espie Castro from KQED in San Francisco.

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Host Leslie Sbrocco sipping wine
Host Leslie Sbrocco sipping wine (Courtesy of Leslie Sbrocco)

My name is Leslie Sbrocco, and I’m the host of Check, Please! Bay Area. Each week, I’ll share my tasting notes about the wine, beer and spirits the guests and I drank on set during the taping of the show.


Almare ‘Spritz Classico’
Veneto, Italy $15
If you’ve ever been to northern Italy, the drink to start any evening is a spritz made with Prosecco and a garnet-hued bitters. This lovely new line of open-and-enjoy spritz bottlings hail from Italy’s Veneto region. For three generations the Maschio family has been crafting Prosecco there. As an homage to their love of sipping spritzes with friends by the seaside, they created the Almare brand. The ‘Classico’ is made from local white Glera grapes and herbal, orange-scented bitters that impart a complex finish. It’s lightly fizzy, low alcohol, fresh and FUN! Pour over ice with a slice of citrus and prepare to take a relaxing taste trip to Italy.

Le Grand Courtâge ‘Grand Cuvee’ Brut Rosé
France $42 (for six single-serve bottles)
Not all French bubbly comes from Champagne. There are plenty of other delicious sparklers from the famed country of wine. This elegantly affordable pink sparkler is red berry scented with vibrant sweet fruit flavors, which makes it ideal as a cocktail sipper, with spicy fare, or alongside brunch. Created by an American woman who moved to France, the company is owned and managed by an all-female team who take their motto “live joyously” to heart…and glass.

2022 Sonoma Cutrer Rosé of Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California $25
One of Sonoma’s classic producers, Sonoma Cutrer is known for its world-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Their pretty-in-pink rosé, however, is the one to seek out for spring and summer sipping. A fruit bowl of flavor packed into the bottle, this crisp and aromatic dry-styled pink is a wonderful wine to welcome warm weather. It has the freshness to complement grilled fish and vegetables but sports enough Pinot Noir structure to pair with roast pork chops or panko-crusted fried chicken.

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