Puttin' on the Ritz in Old Town Eureka
John Chiv/for the Times-Standard
Posted: 06/12/2012 02:38:20 AM PDT
Jack Wu has a penchant for offering good fare, and thanks to him, the lights are on at the Ritz again. The historic Ritz at 240 F St. in Eureka's Old Town reopened quietly on June 1 with a tasting menu. With only word of mouth so far, they have had steady business.
On June 5, the restaurant unveiled its full menu. The Ritz offers modern cuisine featuring French-style plates with a range of Thai flavors. Chef Eric Nelson and Sous Chef Rudy Mujianto tempt your palate with tapas, small plates and savory selections such as Ritz eggplant chevre rolls on wood-fired pita bread, scallop and bay shrimp fritters with Ritz mild curry, grilled duck breast with spicy hoisin glaze, shrimp and crab pizza with lime thyme, tobiko and enoki mushrooms and sun-dried tomato and garlic cream and desserts such as banana bread pizza with strawberries and frozen nutmeg whipped cream.
Prices range from $6 to $18. Vegan and gluten-free options are available.
How did they arrive at what kind of food to offer? Building owner Dan Olivier had a wood-fire oven put in a few months ago. Nelson's background is in French cooking, specifically Southern France. Wu wanted a Thai influence. The result is the Ritz's current French-Thai fusion with seasonal and local ingredients.
The Ritz is open seven days a week and currently offers beer and wine. A full bar will be available soon. Works by local artists Andrei Hedstrom and Jennifer Mackey adorn the walls.
Samuel Santangelo is the front-house manager who oversees a staff of 30 employees, many of whom will be familiar faces to regular patrons of Old Town. In the first week, many diners complimented Santangelo on his excellent recommendations and great customer service.
”The community and nearby businesses have been very supportive,” said Santangelo, “and we plan to be good neighbors and return that generosity and welcome.”
Customers in this first week have had a chance to give feedback on their favorite dishes. Like a painting in process, the Ritz menu will evolve and update.
”The Ritz is one of the best locations in town,” Wu said. “In my travels, I was inspired by some places I visited and wanted to offer a local option which was artistic, different, comfortable and fun. This business brings together my love for good food, support for the arts and to offer Old Town a chance to share in my dream becoming a reality.”
The Ritz has been a landmark of Old Town since 1947. Olivier purchased the building and restored it in 1978. The renovation and design took place over a 14-year period. The Ritz operated as a successful nightclub during that time and since then has been home to many an upscale establishment.
The Ritz's grand opening will be on Friday. Nelson said a couple of new dishes will be introduced that day and some specials. For reservations and more information, call 707-497-6294.