There are not a lot of dining options in Sacramento suburbs dominated by formulaic chain restaurants with big ad budgets that cater to busy, over-worked families just looking for a break from cooking. Fabianís in Fair Oaks breaks that dreary cycle with a delicious fusion of traditional Italian and modern California cuisine.
Owners Christian and Mercedes Forte are steeped in Hollywood. Mercedes was an actress, while Christian is a screen writer and the son of 60ís teen heart-throb Fabian, from whom the restaurant draws its name. But while the owners are involved, this is no celebrity-shtick food shack. Fabians is about the food. Executive chef Tom Patterson is well-known in food circles and the menu reflects both its Italian namesake and California heritage.
Although wedged in a strip mall, Fabians has a comfortable elegance - from the black industrial ceilings inside to the casual wicker chairs and sidewalk-style patio dining, the vibe can be described as famiglia. With an attentive wait staff and minimalist decor, Fabians is perfect for business lunches, family dinners or special occasions.
During a recent business lunch, I tried the special of the day - an Italian salad filled with fresh vegetables and seared beef. The short rib panini, like almost everything else on the menu, is excellent.
The appetizers are a fusion of seasonal farm-to-fork freshness and traditional Italian recipes. The truffle fries and seared crab cakes are outstanding. But I almost always go with the seasonal special, things like the Carpaccio and salmon tartare.
For dinner the lasagna is hard to resist and makes me think homemade, although my own heritage is more Norse than Tuscan. The Bistro Chicken Piccata, Gnocchi and ďchefís choiceĒ Risotto also are excellent. But again, I usually find myself ordering the fresh special, which changes almost weekly.
The fresh fruit desserts are outstanding, but it is hard to resist the delicious cannoli or interesting variety of gelato offerings.
The wine list has boasts a good selection of Italian and domestic bottles and the craft cocktails are superb.
All this adds up to one thing: Fabianís is worth the trip even if you donít live in the Sacramento suburbs.