Santa Rosa Italian Restaurant

Joe LoCoco, Owner

LoCoco’s founder and proprietor Joe LoCoco was literally born into the restaurant business and a culture centered around delicious Italian cuisine. Born the youngest of five children to Sicilian parents in Tuscan Livorno, Joe immigrated with his family to Buffalo, New York in 1956 on the famous liner Andrea Doria. In those days, life in the Buffalo Italian community that Joe’s family lived in was said to be nearly identical to the lifestyle in Calabria, from the local Italian farmer’s market owned by the Tulumello family to bocce ball in the park. And everywhere you went—fresh, delicious Italian family-style cooking.

Joe earned a business degree from Bryant and Stratton Business Institute of New York before returning to Italy to live in Ardenza, a suburb of Livorno. There he worked in his aunt and uncle’s restaurant, cooking dishes such as rotisserie chicken and pizza. After a year, he returned to the US to work with his sister Josie at her New York style submarine sandwich shop in San Francisco. Within two years, and with Joe’s help, they had opened a total of eight branches of Viking Submarines, and after the business was sold the trio opened a new restaurant called La Trattoria in San Rafael, CA.

It was at this time that Joe began working more in the kitchen, side by side with a mentor who taught him the ropes of the back-of-house side of the business. After that restaurant was successfully sold several years later, Joe and his new bride Kendall moved to England for a one-year adventure that included, among other things, personal chef work for Gary Kurtz, the famous co-producer with George Lucas Films. When the couple returned to California in 1983, Joe began what would become a string of successful restaurant ventures beginning with Dalecio & LoCoco Ristorante in an old Victorian in Larkspur, followed by Joe LoCoco’s in Greenbrae (in business for 16 years). After selling Joe LoCoco’s in 2002, Joe took two years off and headed back to Italy to explore the restaurant scene there. When he came back to the states, he spent some time helping his sister Josie with her then-current endeavor Cafe Giostra in Petaluma.  Josie and Edward were fond of Sonoma County, and convinced Joe to open a new restaurant there. He fell in love with the Railroad Square area of Santa Rosa, and once he saw the location that has since become LoCoco’s Cucina Rustica, he knew right away it was the right home for his new venture.

The cooking at LoCoco’s Cucina Rustica is authentically Italian fare in the family/rustic-style style. The food is made with fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients, just as one would find in Italy. Joe also puts a great deal of focus on using local Sonoma County ingredients wherever possible, to provide a Northern Californian accent and ensure the freshest possible ingredients. In fact, it is common to frequently find nightly specials that include as ingredients mushrooms that Joe has picked, or a wild boar (cinghiale) that Joe has hunted himself.

Though well-known for a number of their signature dishes, LoCoco’s favorites include the Linguine di Mare (linguine with clams, shrimp, scallops, and calamari), Pappardelle con Cinghiale (pappardelle with wild boar sausage and mushrooms), Risotto al Diavolo (seafood risotto), Lasagna Bolognese (available as a special only) and LoCoco’s famous house-made Cannoli (rated 4 Stars by local restaurant reviewer Jeff Cox). Come eat at the best Italian Restaurant in Santa Rosa!

Nicole J says:

I recently had my first experience dining at Lococo's, and it immediately became my new favorite restaurant in Santa Rosa. My boyfriend took me to Lococo's for dinner, and it was the best date night a girl could ask for! Fellas trust me, take your lady there for dinner, she'll be happy and so will you. I honestly don't see how anyone could give a negative review for this place, it's that awesome! We made reservations for 6:00pm on a Saturday night. I admit that I expected we'd have to wait based on other Yelp reviews I've read for this place, but my man had been there several times and said he never once had to wait. We got to the restaurant early, around 5:40 and were perfectly fine waiting until our 6:00 reservation, but they seated us right away. We were brought upstairs and sat at a small table for two. It was really close to the table behind us, so I was a little cramped, as was the guy sitting behind me, but I was comfortable for the most part. It does seem like they pack too many tables in, and it seemed hard for folks to move about and not bump into people around them, but other than that, this place is a very cute and cozy gem of a restaurant. It's got a strong Italian feel and a family style, yet romantic setting. It was very loud and packed with happy, smiling people enjoying their food and drink. I'm Italian myself, so I felt right at home and I can hang with a loud setting, but I can see how some would find it overwhelming or annoying to have to shout across the table because of the noise. I didn't mind at all though. Our server, Roberto, was great! He got excited because I brought a very nice bottle of wine to have with dinner, so we talked for a minute before he told us about the specials of the evening. He clearly knows his wine and knew exactly what I brought, and it was nice to have a server engage a bit, and not make you feel rushed because they are busy. Roberto was very personable, attentive and kind. His lively, fun demeanor made our experience all that much more enjoyable, and I thought it was very sweet that after he introduced himself to us, he gently laid a napkin across my lap...who does that anymore? It's the little things that made this place stand out from the rest. There was another server that had longer hair pulled back in a pony tail (didn't catch his name) and he was moving quickly around while singing and entertaining us to know end. He also stopped at our table to talk wine and made us laugh quite a bit. I just loved the great service and staff at this place! Now, the most important part of the evening: the food. First of all, the fresh garlic and olive tapenade they serve with sourdough bread and focaccia was to die for. It was so tasty and we had to stop ourselves from eating it all so we could fit what was still to come in our bellies. We started with the fried calamari appetizer, but after seeing the prosciutto and mozzarella plate that was the appetizer special that night, I think we'll be trying that next time for sure. The calamari was fried perfectly, not greasy at all, very crunchy and flavorful with a delicious lemon tarter and cocktail sauce on the side that looked and tasted like they were made in house. For my entre, I ordered the linguine with a lemon cream and garlic sauce. My dish came with four HUGE prawns, cooked to perfection. My boyfriend ordered the Osso Bucco over risotto and said it was fantastic. For desert, I had to get the crme brulee because it's my favorite desert of all time, and of course it was just as amazing as I thought it would be. My man got the apple tart with caramel and vanilla ice cream...also quite tasty. We left so stuffed we could hardly breathe. It was the most satisfying and delicious meal I had had in a long time. We had a great experience from the minute we arrived to the minute we walked out the door. On the way home we were talking about when we can go back for dinner again because it was so fantastic that we don't want to wait too long before enjoying another evening at Lococo's. I would recommend this place to anyone and everyone who enjoys incredible food and a great setting, for a reasonable price. Best little Italian spot in Santa Rosa, hands down. Go check 'em out! You won't be disappointed.

Lococo's Cucina Rustica is rated 5 stars over 34 reviews. Read more reviews