IT’S A MYSTERY WHY Sacramento doesn’t have more Italian restaurants. There’s Biba, of course, and a handful of old-school, red-sauce-and-Chianti places. But where are the modern, upscale Italian restaurants so prevalent in nearby San Francisco and Napa? It’s a head-scratcher.
Deneb Williams and Elizabeth-Rose Mandalou set out to remedy that situation with Allora, their new modern Italian seafood restaurant in East Sacramento. He’s a longtime chef with a passion for Italian cuisine; she’s an advanced sommelier with a thing for Italy’s language, culture and wine.
They have impeccable pedigrees: Williams was the executive chef at The Firehouse in Old Sac for almost a decade. Mandalou worked at Ella as a bartender and assistant sommelier. Several years ago, they decided to strike out on their own and partnered with David Hardie, whose Enotria restaurant building on Del Paso Boulevard was empty. Williams and Mandalou (who are married to each other) ended up opening two eateries in the space: Uptown Pizza and a casual barbecue place called Woodlake Tavern. But their ultimate goal was a wine-focused Italian restaurant.