If you’ve visited Italy’s Amalfi Coast, you know the azure sea, meandering coastline, picturesque fishing villages. We have our own slice of Italian heaven in Sausalito. It’s close to home, yet often an overlooked destination.
Sausalito is a beautiful playground – for a day trip or overnight. And it’s easy to get to: Either a gorgeous ferry ride or a quick hop over the Golden Gate. We tried both options and here’s what my husband and I found on recent adventures.
STAY: Some say the ferry ride from San Francisco to Sausalito is the second most beautiful in the world just behind the Star Ferry excursion between Hong Kong and Kowloon. You decide.
Casa Madrona is a quick walk across Bridgeway from where the ferry docks. This recently renovated boutique hotel hugs the hillside and offers stunning views of Richardson Bay, Belvedere and the San Francisco skyline from almost every room.
The property includes the historic Mansion (originally built in 1885) that maintains its Victorian finishes at the same time incorporating the latest in high tech accessories and luxe amenities in its rooms and suites. There are also stand alone cottages, guesthouses and Bayside accommodations (up from the street dotting the hillside to the Mansion). We stayed in one of these spacious, airy rooms with modern finishes, a soaking tub and private patio. (Its proximity to the street made it somewhat noisy.)
The Inn Above Tide is tucked into a corner of Sausalito just down from the ferry. This plush hotel is situated over the water and offers unparalleled views of the Bay. The rooms are beautifully appointed and most have fireplaces and Jacuzzis. Relax on the patio and take in the birds and boat scene with binoculars placed in every room. In the evening, enjoy wine and cheese in the Drawing Room and head back there for a generous continental breakfast.
DINE: For brunch at Murray Circle, we drove across the Golden Gate and snaked our way down to historic Fort Baker (a former Army post) and Cavallo Point. It’s situated near the water’s edge with stunning views of San Francisco, Angel Island, the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate.
The restaurant’s front porch is an ideal location to while away a Sunday with a jalapeño martini and Clouds Rest Femme Fatale Pinot Noir in hand. The steamed mussels were in a luscious creamy Sauvignon Blanc broth with a garlic crouton to soak up all of the goodness. The chicken butter lettuce cups had everything to make wraps: tasty chicken, pickled vegetables, roasted peanuts, avocado and crispy noodles. For dessert, we couldn’t resist the strawberry shortcake with black pepper meringue, strawberry ice cream and a banana ganache.
Copita is a fun place to learn about tequila, savor Mexican fare and be part of a great street scene. Starting with a margarita (or two) is a must – like the Copita (Herradura blanco, fresh lime juice and agave nectar) and the Smoking Gun (Xicaru mezcal, St. Germain, tequila blanco, lime and grapefruit). Find delicious selections on the menu like the oyster tacos (spicy and succulent) and the trio of ceviches (including lobster, bay scallops, red snapper and ahi tuna) – all kicked up with chiles and cilantro.
Poggio, a popular Italian trattoria, is known for its Northern Italian cuisine and fresh ingredients from the garden on the hill (“poggio” in Italian). There’s a lively atmosphere with a friendly neighborhood crowd, outdoor seating and views that don’t quit.
The menu changes daily, but favorites abound: Chef’s selections of cooked and cured meats done in-house and the wood-fired veal and pork meatballs served in a zesty tomato sauce. The grilled calamari had terrific flavor and was made with pork belly, butter beans, frisée and salsa verde. The shellfish roe pasta is a unique dish with head on prawns, bottarga and a spicy tomato sauce kicked up with chili. We paired our dishes with a 2009 Chianti Classico Machiavelli Toscana. The lemon mousse for dessert was sinfully delicious.
Special Events: 8th Annual Gingerbread House Competition & Tour
Sausalito Chamber of Commerce
PATTY BURNESS can be found @pattygb