No one knows Italian food like Raj Nouzari knows Italian food … just ask those who know him best.
“Raj is an amazing cook,”said Denice Dorsett, Raj’s partner and friend. “He makes incredible spaghetti and his Italian enchiladas and palermo are to die for.”
So inspired by Nouzari’s mouth-watering dishes, Dorsett paired up with the chef and the pair opened Americano Grill Italian Bistro in El Dorado Hills Town Center earlier this year — the latest in their culinary adventures.
Dorsett met Nouzari in 2007 when she was filling in for a friend who was a server at the Valencia Club, located in Penryn. Nouzari owned the Valencia Club at that time and noticed Dorsett’s excellent people skills. Before long the match was made. The two signed on as partners and have been together since.
“We make a great team,” said Dorsett. “He likes to stay in the kitchen and I’m more of a people person, so it all works out.”
After leaving the Valencia Club in 2009, Nouzari and Dorsett opened Mooney’s Restaurant & Bar on East Bidwell, right across from the DMV in Folsom. Mooney’s did really well and was known for having the best burger in Folsom and beyond, but after the Palladio shopping center opened, business began to dwindle. The partners knew it was time to sell.
And that’s when the idea for Americano Grill Italian Bistro was born.
“Raj had seen this location in Town Center and really liked it,” said Dorsett. “Town Center needed an Italian restaurant, and that just happened to be one of Raj’s areas of expertise. It couldn’t have worked out better.”
Customers at Americano Grill Italian Bistro are delighted by large portions, the freshest ingredients and friendly faces. Nouzari himself picks out his ingredients at a Sacramento market every day, and the chef grows his own herbs and tomatoes in season. The restaurant also offers a bottomless mimosa brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day, where customers can get more than just Italian food. Chicken fried steak, crab benedict, fresh crab cakes, omelets, bacon and more top the brunch menu.
“I am always amazed at Raj’s eggs,” said Dorsett. “Never do you see any brown on his eggs. His eggs are perfect. It’s unreal that he can make them that perfect every time.”
Unreal reviews on Yelp also give the grill’s food and service a resounding thumbs up.
“I’m usually not a big kabob kinda guy but I must say this place has gotten me all kabbobilously crazy about meat on a stick,” wrote Dat from Sacramento.
“This place was awesome. My husband and I, who are trying to stay healthy and watch our calorie/carb intake, had a terrific diet-friendly dinner last night before catching a movie,” wrote Sara from Folsom. “As a bonus — we arrived much later than expected and were worried we might arrive too late to the movie theater to get decent seats. When we expressed this to our server she made sure that our food arrived promptly and that we were quickly taken care of.”
In addition to the excellent food, great customer service is a given at Americano Grill Italian Bistro. Dorsett has had people follow her all the way from the Valencia Club, and she and Raj even make Christmas dinner for a couple from Newcastle every year.
“I genuinely love people and will go out of my way for my customers and won’t even tell them I’m doing it,” said Dorsett. “When I do something, I do it without any ulterior motive. That’s just the way I am.”
Americano Grill Italian Bistro is located at 2085 Vine Street, nestled in the courtyard below the movie theater. For more information call (916) 934-0887.