Great New Places to Eat

There’s a saying that when one door closes, another one opens. Last year was tough on local eateries, but some very exciting restaurant doors have opened in the past few months, including one inspired by a food truck, another by a 56-foot-long bunny, and others by cuisines ranging from French to Mongolian and Indian to Southern (grits, anyone?). So feast your eyes on our favorite new spots, and you’ll see why we think the food scene is looking very sunny-side up.

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Pork Belly
Grub Shack

4261 Truxel Rd.
285-6100
porkbellygrub.com
OPEN Tues.-Sat.
11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
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Pork Belly Grub Shack - What do you get when you put together two of Sacramento’s brashest and most inventive young chefs, a tattoo artist and a generous helping of pig parts and fried eggs?

Something very much like Natomas’s hot new lunch spot, Pork Belly Grub Shack, which opened in mid-December. TPigs really do fly at Pork Belly Grub Shack, at least when it comes to its swine-inspired décor. (Photo by Ryan Donahue)here, a picnic vibe (think red-checked tablecloths and salvaged wood roof shingles) and all-you-can-meat fare (zingy Asian street tacos, fries topped with crispy pork belly, overstuffed burgers) liven up a formerly bland strip-mall location. The cool vibe comes thanks to the ministrations of chefs Billy Ngo of Kru and Aimal Formoli of Formoli’s Bistro, who own the place along with the latter’s wife Suzanne Ricci. She came up with the décor, which gets an assist from several quirky pieces of pig-themed art by Liz Miller of Relentless Tattoo Gallery (Formoli’s longtime tattoo artist).Colorful chef-owners  Billy Ngo (left) and Aimal Formoli work together in the kitchen. (Photo by Ryan Donahue)

The trio of owners, known for their restaurants in midtown and East Sacramento, had wanted to open a casual, well-priced eatery; Formoli notes that they saw opening in Natomas both as a Asian street tacos with fried pork belly, pickled carrots  and daikon, and house- made teriyaki sauce (Photo by Ryan Donahue)challenge and as an opportunity to bring farm-to-table fare to a part of town that’s richer in chain restaurants than in, say, house-made pork liver pâté. The latter adds a dusky note to the pork belly banh mi, one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes to date—along with those street tacos and the Hot Mess burger, with two kinds of cheese, a drippy fried egg and house-made barbecue sauce. No wonder Natomas eaters have been giving them a rousing welcome and downtown fans of the chefs’ work have been quietly making the trek to Truxel for lunch.

—K.W