November 5, 2012 by Paul Lanning
Todo Un Poco Bistro is a small, locally owned restaurant in Elk Grove that’s been serving patrons for 15 years or so. It’s a rarity in this suburban Sacramento city…a non-chain establishment that has lasted so long, has a loyal and strong customer base, and in fact has outlasted some of the major chains that have come and gone in town.
Todo Un Poco offers an eclectic menu of both Mexican and Italian entrees, and its appetizer list is a fun mix of both cuisines. The walls are covered with some amazing original artwork that gives the place a vibe all its own.
What’s really fun for a wine enthusiast, however, is to see and sample the wide variety of wines that restaurateur Marie Mertz adds to the mix, both on the wine list and others that she finds in her travels and features on a limited basis.
Recently I’ve had the opportunity to try some of her “off the menu” selections and have been quite impressed. From Napa to Chile, the wine selections she features offer something for everyone in both reds and whites.
As a Pinot Noir lover, I’ve been particularly happy with a couple of her recent offerings that I’d never heard of before. My favorite, hands down, has been a 2010 Fleur Carneros Pinot Noir. She also recently had a 2011 Backhouse Pinot, also from the Napa area, but for me Fleur was far better…fruity, hearty, and easy drinking, just a very pleasurable wine, particularly with some of the menu items offered at Todo Un Poco, such as the Meatballs Pomodoro.
The 2011 Backhouse, on the other hand, holds poromiose but may have been a bit young in the bottle for drinking. With appropriate aging it may well stand up as a solid Pinot as well, but after just a few months in the bottle its too perhaps early to drink. It comes across much earthier than the Fleur, and it’s not from Napa’s famed Carneros region like the Fleur is.
On my last visit Marie brought out some Chilean wines she had picked up recently. Her selections from La Playa (“The Beach”) included a Sauvignon Blanc and a 2009 Carménère, which is a red varietal that I had never tried.
The Carménère was very smoky, very earthy, and not particularly to my liking, maybe simply because I had already been tasting the Fleur that evening and this was too much of a departure for me in that sitting. It struck as very similar to a Malbec, which again is not my favorite varietal. However, if you like Malbec, I do recommend trying this one, especially side by side with a Malbec to discern the differences between the two.
I didn’t taste the Sauvignon Blanc…I tend to stick with reds these days…but from what I’m told it was tasty indeed.
Every visit to Todo Un Poco holds promise for the discovery of new wineries and varietals, as Marie is constantly attending tastings and sampling selections from around the world in her efforts to provide something different for the denizens of Elk Grove. It’s great to see a place that has survived and even thrived through the economic downturn, and an owner who works so hard to offer her patrons that little bit extra that no chain restaurant in suburbia can provide.
Todo Un Poco Bistro is located at 9080 Laguna Boulevard in Elk Grove, just east of Interstate 5.