Monkey Cat: Fine dining in Auburn

OUR AREA IS HOME to some of the most experienced and enthusiastic restaurateurs. For the past 11 years, Jim Bril and his wife, Trish, have owned the popular Monkey Cat restaurant in downtown Auburn. Jim also has partnered with Gary Capps, a longtime local, to open Tre Pazzi, an authentic Italian trattoria in Auburn.

“I started washing dishes when I was 14 years old and I’m still in the restaurant business, except I own the dishes now,” quips Jim.

Jim had been a principal of the famed Fior d’Italia restaurant in North Beach, America’s oldest Italian restaurant. He worked at Fior d’Italia for 25 years and was an owner for 15 years. When Jim owned the restaurant, his customers included Joe Montana, Lee Iacocca and Tommy Lasorda, among others.

He reenergized Monkey Cat with new menu selections and an exotic theme. Trish decorated the restaurant with local artwork, animal caricatures and photos to create a casual tropical feel. “Our food style is somewhat eclectic,” says Jim. “With a name like Monkey Cat, we can go in many different directions.”

Appetizers include antipasto, a house salad, Greek salad, Chinese chicken salad, shrimp and lobster wontons. Entrees include tortellini pesto, petrale sole (one of our favorites), shrimp stir fry, grilled chicken, duck breast, pork tenderloin, short ribs, lamb chops, a rib-eye steak, filet mignon and the Monkey Cat burger (with grass-fed beef).

Jim says he likes to showcase fresh PlacerGrown produce and wines. The restaurant features wines by the glass, bottles and a full bar with signature martinis. It also has a private dining room.

In the fall of 2011, Jim joined with Gary to open Tre Pazzi Trattoria. It specializes in authentic Italian food made from scratch, Italian wines and beer. The trattoria has an open, airy interior and al fresco dining.

Tre Pazzi’s menu items feature Northern and Southern Italian cooking, with dishes such as gnocchi, cannelloni, lasagna, wild-mushroom ravioli, red-wine slow-braised wild boar, veal scallopine, rack of lamb and artisan pizza. Fresh-made Italian desserts include tiramisu. Gary visits Italy each year and helps keep the menu authentic. “Though clearly beloved by locals, it’s well worth the trip from Sacramento,” the Sacramento Bee wrote in a review.

(Photo: Monkey Cat)

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