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Meet the Chef at Francis Ford Coppola's Werowocomoco

Imagine this – the chef at American-Native styled Werowocomoco is actually Francis Ford Coppola. He owns the Virginia Dare Winery in Geyserville where this Native American café resides, and when he wasn’t busy this past year creating blockbuster movies, he found time to visit, as he has said, for “shared meals on Indian reservations in Arizona and New Mexico, in private homes and eateries for local people.”

Okay, so he’s not actually personally cooking meals in the cafeteria-style eatery next to the winery tasting room, or taking orders at the counter where chafing dishes burble with stews, beans, rice, and other savory delights.

But, Coppola says he did create the menu, doing taste testings and helping tweak signatures like slow-roasted, shredded bison that’s been lightly rubbed in chiles, coffee, and chocolate. The meat arrives piled atop light, fluffy, fry bread rounded out with add-ins like shredded lettuce, diced tomato, crumbled cotija, crema Mexicana, chiles, and a variety of salsas such as barbecue corn-cranberry with Anaheim and Serrano peppers ($11).

So let’s just call him chef. It has a nice ring to it.

First, how to pronounce the name: Wero-wo-como-ko. It’s a tribute to what is considered the original capital city of Virginia, and means “place of leadership,” as it was the center of the Powhatan Confederacy of 30 tribes in the early 17th century.

Supporting the theme, you’ll see painted animal skins as décor, and dishes like bison ribs with wild rice imbued with cranberries and cider ginger vinaigrette plus a side of blueberry barbecue sauce ($18.50).

Think of it as a movie set, as filmmaker and director Coppola envisions. One that happens to serve tasty, unusual-for-these-parts fare like vegetarian green chile stew in a chunky joy of spicy roasted Hatch and poblano chiles, mushrooms and sweet corn ($5 for a half pint, $8 a pint).

There’s wood-smoked rotisserie “prairie” chicken ($18.50) or venison chili ($7/$10) to be spooned atop fry bread, and dessert of pine ice cream (two scoops, $5), yes, in honor of pine needles and their piney aroma.

On your way out, stop at the gift shop and browse the wines, impressive array of corkscrews of all kinds, and Native American art. Like the food, it’s fun, and a bit of fantasy.

See more great places to eat in Sonoma County, or see what other restaurants are participating in the Sonoma County Restaurant Week, March 6-12. 

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