The wood fire grill flavors of Sonoma Grill have been missing from Tyler's restaurant selection since it closed at its Old Bullard Road location earlier this year. The restaurant moved from its quaint location in The Shops at Old Bullard this summer to a much larger and modern space at 7428 Old Jacksonville Highway.
The relocation is complete. Owner, Bobby Asad and his staff have been firing up their wood fire grill and pizza for three weeks at the new location.
"We outgrew our old space," Asad said. "It was time for an upgrade. We learned from our customers likes and dislikes and wanted to move forward."
After purchasing and developing the retail center called Sonoma Village at Swann Plaza in 2014, Asad designed a new home for his Sonoma Grill restaurant. The TJC and UT Tyler alumnus is working to set a high standard for casual family dining in Tyler.
The inspiration for Sonoma Grill comes from Asad's visits to Napa Valley, where he says the sun and nature are always out.
"We're a casual family restaurant and we accommodate all," Asad said. "We wanted to establish a concept not a chain."
The new south Tyler location's dining room is perfect for families and date nights. The private and open-bar arrangement features draft beer, signature cocktails and a bottled glass wine system.
"The wine system holds 16 bottles of wine," Asad said. "It keeps the wine at the perfect temperatures, white wines at 43 degrees and red at 63 degrees."
The culture of Napa and the Sonoma Valley come alive in the signature cocktails Sonoma Grill is making at its bar. The basil lime margaritas, cucumber cooler splash and the frozen white peach bellini are available after a long day or during a night out.
"Our best sellers are the basil lime margaritas and the white peach frozen bellini," bartender and server Chelsea Huthchinson said.
Asad said the menu consists of American cuisine with a California style and a Texas influence. Sonoma Grill is a place for families and couples with different tastes.
"The culture here is, anything goes," Asad said. "If someone wants something and we have the ingredients, we'll make it."
The menu features gourmet burgers, entree salads, steaks, seafood, chicken, pasta and pizza. The restaurant uses organic and hormone-free ingredients and uses local ingredients when available. The staff brings the fresh ingredients together to create signature dishes like the chaca burger, hazlenut caprino salad, the king filet, Mediterranean Sonoma and the BBQ chicken pizza.
It can be frustrating when restaurant-goers find themselves in situations where they can't decide on one particular type of food. Sonoma Grill's old school comfort foods are a great way for people with different tastes to enjoy a meal together. Asad kept all of the past favorites and added traditional American dishes to the menu.
"I would get calls from customers whose husbands weren't fond of our salads and chicken dishes and wanted chicken fried steak," Asad said. "I added the old school comfort food to add a Texas influence and to offer people a variety of options for family dining."
Sonoma Grill doesn't have a head chef. The staff works together to fire up the grill and pizza oven. Kids can watch as their pizza is crafted and placed into the oven.
The kitchen is open, but private. It can be seen if you want to see it. The concept allows restaurant-goers to mingle or have privacy for conversation and date night.
"We have a kitchen manager. I'm the founder, and I play in the kitchen with the food and different flavors," Asad said.
The future of the Sonoma Village at Swann Plaza is changing. Asad also owns Fish City Grill, and it will be relocating soon to Old Jacksonville Highway. It will feature oysters and many other seafood dishes. Leases on other sites are in progress, and new opportunities and business will be coming soon.
Sonoma Grill's hours of operation are 4-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m Sunday.
Visit www.sonomagrilltyler.com for full menu and more information.