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Aurora Ristorante Italiano in Novato

A surprise meal can be very good.

You could stand on a corner and look around until a restaurant sign draws you in. But we have a better idea. Each week, Patch picks a restaurant in Petaluma, Novato or San Rafael that is worth checking out. Here's this week's choice:

8 Commercial Blvd., #A, Novato, (415) 382-8488

Overview: I have been to Aurora a couple of times on the edge of Bel Marin Keys in south Novato, but I haven't gone more because I am always seeking out the latest new taste and the latest new place. I had tender gnocchi there one time; another I had a very nice rack of lamb. But it was going to be a visit on Sunday and my mouth and brain were set for brunch — an Italian brunch.

I had read on the website about a smoked salmon frittata, one with zucchini and three other veggies, and a “maffin” with egg and Proscuitto napped in “Hollanders” sauce.  Plus there was also listed a bisteca del buongiorno or as we would say steak and eggs.

So, my friend and I arrived promptly at 11:30 a.m. and thought at first Aurora was closed. Then we saw a waiter inside. Good, time for some Italian breakfast food.

The waiter handed us the menu filled with pastas and more. I thought it was a mistake, so I said, “Can we have the brunch menu?” “Oh, no more brunch, bella,” he said, always the charming Italian. 

We stared at the menu. Nothing appealed to us. Suddenly, the waiter reappeared and said, “The chef can make you an omelet.”

I was inspired! “How about a Proscuitto omelet with some Mozzarella. And some sautéed spinach with a little garlic and potatoes?”

My friends eyes got big and she said, “Make that two.”

And that’s how we had a terrific brunch where there was none to be had.

We ordered one panna cotta to split and the waiter brought us two enrobed in whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce, gratis. Because as he said, we came for something and he didn’t want us disappointed. Bravo!

Décor: It’s housed in a sunny yellow dining room with many windows. I can’t remember if there is heat at night, but at 11 a.m. on a Sunday there was none. I’ve found this chilly situation at simple ethnic restaurants in San Francisco, but it surprised me here. Bring a sweater. 

The Drinks: Wine and beer, including a nice Prosecco, just right for “brunch.”

Appetizers: See above.

Entrees: See above.

Desserts: Crème caramel, affogato (ice cream with espresso and really good panna cotta.

Service: Truly it was creative and gracious.

Cost: Omelet $9, but not available at “brunch.”

Disabled accessible: Yes

Noise level: Pleasantly quiet.

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