California’s wine country combines an unforgettable abundance of locally grown produce with world-renowned wines. We partnered with Chef Ari Rosen and the team of local artisans and farmers behind his Healdsburg restaurants, Scopa and Campo Fina, as they celebrate both with a family-style meal that brings our Open Kitchen collection to life. Read our interviews with the team and try Ari’s recipes here.
As the manager at Scopa, Jessica Ross stays busy overseeing the restaurant’s staff and making sure customers are happy. Luckily, they usually are, thanks to the comforting Italian cuisine Scopa is known for, inspired by the food of Italian grandmothers. Here, we ask Jessica all about her background, what she does at the restaurant, and her favorite thing to eat at Scopa.
Tell us about your background. How did you get into the food industry?
I was born and raised on a 25-acre prune ranch just outside of Healdsburg. There is so much wonderful produce and food to be enjoyed that it was natural for me to want to be involved in the food industry. My first job was the day after I graduated high school. I walked into Center Street Deli and my life was forever changed.
How did you start working at Scopa?
Ari very openly wanted me to help open Scopa, but I wasn’t ready at that time. I came to him three months later one afternoon, after a few (too many) beers and declared that I was finally READY! I got the job on the spot.
Can you describe your role at the restaurant?
Bossy. Front of house manager. Girl Friday. My job is to make people feel good while eating the most delicious stuff in town.
Why Scopa? What’s special about the food, the space, the people?
Scopa embodies local, honest and authentic nonna food. We have a tiny staff of people who all love what they do, and it shows. The space is small, loud and buzzing with joy. Plus, I get to eat an awesome family meal every day that I work.
My food philosophy is to eat local products that are lovingly shaped into fantastic meals. To support the farmers that work so hard, day to day, to offer their bounty. You really can’t find better stuff out there. Scopa’s is the same: buy good local produce, slave in the hot kitchen all day with nonna’s recipes, and serve it with love.
What’s your favorite thing to eat at Scopa?
Tomasso’s Sugo Calabrese. Best spaghettini EVER! Hands down. I eat it once a week at the least.
What’s the best part about your job?
The best part about my job is hugging tons of customers that come in every week! Or people that come to Healdsburg once every few years and seek out a meal at Scopa and recognizing them. I love everything that Scopa is. A tiny restaurant that screams homemade LOVE.
Do you live in Healdsburg?
I currently live in Sebastopol. That was were my husband was established. I have been there for four years. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t dream of being back in Healdsburg. It won’t be long…
I can drive an hour each way to see beauty all around. The north coast, the redwoods, wine country…it’s all at my back door.
Do you cook and entertain at home? If so, what are some of your favorite things to make? And what’s your entertaining style?
To be honest… I am the worst chef! My best dish is that I can make RESERVATIONS! I aspire to be better in the kitchen. Maybe I should hire Ari to show me his stuff? Or sign up for a cooking class or two?
When I do cook my favorite thing to make is Spanish rice, pinto beans and thin fried pork chops. One of my all-time best memories from my childhood was coming home from school to my Nana’s house and seeing a giant stack of homemade flour tortillas. Just add butter. I have yet to perfect that recipe.
What’s for dinner tonight?
Scopa. Eight Chinese. Burritos from the local taqueria. All on speed dial.