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!

Lex J says:

I remember loving their pasta alfredo the first time I was here, and I was craving pasta that night, so I convinced my boyfriend he was craving pizza so that we had a reason to venture into downtown Santa Rosa and come here.We shared the pasta alfredo with chicken, the award-winning Prima pizza, and as our starter the meatballs gorgonzola. Our server also came out with some of their homemade garlic rolls.The pasta alfredo was, again, amazing - the sauce was very creamy and rich, unlike the kind you buy out of a jar, and the pasta was cooked well. My only complaint is that it had too few pieces of chicken (we paid an extra $3 to add chicken). The Prima pizza was delicious - the crust was cooked perfectly, it was loaded with veggies, and my favorite part about it was the artichokes (I have never sought out pizzas with artichokes in them...until now!). The meatballs gorgonzola was probably my least favorite during our meal that night, mostly because they were very salty. I couldn't tell if it was the meatballs or the gorgonzola; nevertheless, I probably wouldn't recommend it. Lastly, the garlic rolls were delicious. I know they have them on the menu, but I think they're complimentary because our server continued to re-fill our basket and we were never charged.Our bill was a bit more expensive than we anticipated, but my boyfriend and I both came out feeling satisfied with our meal and even had some leftovers to eat the next day. The regular, smaller portions on the dinner menu are small (relative to American portions) but just right, so don't come here expecting to do some heavy carb-loading unless you plan to order the large family size for your pasta and pizza.I highly recommend this place for eating out with family or a significant other. Downstairs seating is limited, but they have an upstairs dining area as well. The restaurant is located in a charming little section of downtown Santa Rosa, so you can take a stroll while you wait for your food to digest before heading home.Excellent Italian food with that home-style Italian feel!

Lococo's Cucina Rustica is rated 4.975 stars over 40 reviews. Read more reviews