From the farm: Poggio's garden-to-table fare

While most Bay Area restaurants are blessed with year-round access to fresh, local produce, there aren’t many that are lucky enough to pick their own vegetables and herbs from right in their backyard.

Enter Poggio, Sausalito’s long established Italian restaurant, where the local pickin’s are anything but slim. In true garden-to-table fashion, Poggio does a weekly harvest of select herbs, greens, flowers and other produce in its nearby vegetable garden — making its menu local and fresh as local and fresh get.

Dubbed Poggio Springs, the garden is located in the back of Poggio owner Larry Mindel’s Sausalito home, where beautiful greens and herbs have been growing wild for years, keeping the local deer and raccoon population happy and healthy. The restaurant decided to care for the garden in recent years, harvesting what it could (when it could) to add a little bit of hyper-local flavor to its menu. While some of the nearby wildlife still sneak in to get their fill once in a while, most of the goods are picked and used by the restaurant on a regular basis.

A natural spring that runs through the garden nourishes the garden’s bounty of goods, where chicory, radicchio, swiss chard and at least 20 other varieties of plants grow throughout the year. Basil, watercress and arugula are also plentiful, as well as basil, rosemary and sage — all of which regenerate quickly after harvested.

“Basically, we come and pick whatever we need,” says Poggio executive chef Ben Balesteri. “We can use everything that’s here and we make whatever we can think of with it. It just makes us super local.”

While the the garden could never yield enough to sustain the busy restaurant — which does anywhere from 350 to 400 covers on a busy Saturday night — Poggio harvests at least four cases of produce a week. And every little bit is worth it, Balesteri says. “It’s just fact that everything grown from your own garden tastes better.”