Jennifer Garner and Laura Dave, Poggio loves you back!

A bar or restaurant being mentioned in a bestselling book or even being affiliated with a popular TV show can secure a reputation for decades. Just ask Constante and his daiquiri, a bartender at El Floridita in Cuba whom Hemingway mentioned by name in 1970’s “Islands in the Stream.” Or look at what the long-running hit TV series “Cheers” did for the Bull & Finch Pub, the bar used only for the outside shots, which was later renamed to Cheers Beacon Hill, and at one point saw upwards of a million tourists annually. There was even another Boston “Cheers” replica bar built and opened with a reconstructed inside setting reminiscent of the TV show, located in the Faneuil Hall shopping center, which lasted for 20 years (around nine years longer than the series) before closing during the pandemic.

Sausalito’s Poggio Trattoria is experiencing both a literary brush with fame as well as a small-screen one. The restaurant is mentioned several times in “The Last Thing He Told Me,” a 2021 New York Times bestselling book by Laura Dave, which spent 65 weeks on the bestseller list. The book has also been made into an Apple TV+ show of the same name, which premiered on April 14. While Poggio didn’t make an actual appearance in the TV series (it was referenced), during filming, actress Jennifer Garner was a frequent guest.

Poggio Trattoria's new Jennifer Ti Amo cocktail was inspired by Jennifer Garner, who dined at the Sausalito restaurant while in town filming "The Last Thing He Told Me." (Photo by Dashiel Mindel)
Photo by Dashiel MindelPoggio Trattoria’s new Jennifer Ti Amo cocktail was inspired by Jennifer Garner, who dined at the Sausalito restaurant while in town filming “The Last Thing He Told Me.”

Recently, I caught up with Poggio partner Michael Mindel to find out more, and how things have gone as a result.

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Q First of all, how are things going in Sausalito post-COVID? Has tourism returned?

A Yes, with a vengeance. There has been a tectonic positive shift in tourism and, more broadly, the concept of how and when leisure travel occurs. With work-from-home not just normalized but appearing to be permanent — at least in some form — the concept of the “weekend” has blurred. “Thursday is the new Friday and Monday is the new Sunday” is a saying we use a lot lately. We even hosted a wedding on a Monday last week. Mind-blowing how the concept of a “work week” has morphed. We expect this summer to be the busiest we may have ever seen and our sources at SFO confirm that the airports are expecting the same. 2023 was the busiest first quarter in history, according to our friends at Pier 39, despite all the negative publicity surrounding San Francisco.

Q The book’s main character lives on a houseboat in Sausalito. In the book, author Laura Dave mentions Poggio several times. How did you find out?

A Morgan Peterson (our manager) was the first one to hear, from a guest, that we were mentioned in the novel when it was first published. She immediately notified me and Amy Svendberg (Poggio’s general manager) about it and I went to the bookstore across the street that day and bought all their copies. We had countless people tell us initially when the book came out and it also really picked up as the series premiere approached. What’s been amazing is that, in the book, they never actually step foot in the restaurant but simply fondly mentions it a couple of times. We were delighted to be spoken of so kindly.

Q The main character Hannah (played by Garner in the show) re-creates a Poggio”pasta for her stepdaughter Bailey’s birthday: “homemade multigrain linguini in a brown butter sauce.” Is there such a pasta on Poggio’s menu?

A This is where things get a bit strange. The dishes mentioned in the book have never appeared on our menu. It is a work of fiction after all. However, after the series premiered, chef Ben Balesteri reverse-engineered a dish that is a buckwheat pasta with brown butter. The description seemed a bit plain to him, so he added some spring vegetables to the dish and it’s been a top-selling pasta since we added it to the menu a few weeks ago.

Apple TV+On her last day filming in Sausalito, Jennifer Garner drove by in a truck that she drove in the series and yelled out, “Goodbye Poggio, I love you!” as she drove past, says Poggio partner Michael Mindel.

Q When Jennifer Garner visited Poggio, what did she order?

A On her first visit, she started with the schiacciata, a wood-fired “topless pizza,” which she ordered every time she came in. She said she made a similar dish at home for her kids in her own wood-fired oven but it never came out quite as tasty as our version. She mentioned that to her server at one dinner, Karls, who immediately suggested she bring her kids to Poggio. She also enjoyed our sformatino and a vegetarian version of our bucatini when Karls waited on her. When he asked if they were interested in discussing dessert, Jennifer said: “Karls, we can either be friends and you will not offer me dessert, or we cannot be friends if you leave these menus with us.” Karls quickly gathered up the menus and is now officially friends with Jennifer Garner!

Q There is now a “The Last Thing He Told Me”-themed cocktail on your menu. How did that come about and what inspired its creation?

A Another strange twist. This is more of a Jennifer Garner-inspired cocktail than related to the novel or show. On her last day filming here, Jennifer drove by in the truck that she drove in the Sausalito part of the series and yelled out of the passenger-side window, “Goodbye Poggio, I love you!” as she went driving past, which was really hilarious as we had a completely full patio at the time and we had to explain who that was and why she was yelling. Interestingly, she never drank anything with alcohol, even though she is well-known for her appreciation of wine and tequila. So, when our mixologist Jorge Canche was developing our spring cocktails, he and Amy came up with Jennifer Ti Amo as our way of expressing our love for her and our appreciation for the kindness she bestowed on Poggio. The staff is pretty excited to be associated with such a popular series and such a beloved celebrity as Jennifer Garner. She was charming to every staff member and tipped really well.

Jeff Burkhart is the author of “Twenty Years Behind Bars: The Spirited Adventures of a Real Bartender, Vol. I and II,” the host of the Barfly Podcast on iTunes (as seen in the NY Times) and an award-winning bartender at a local restaurant. Follow him at and contact him at [email protected]


Jennifer Ti Amo 

1 ¾ ounces mezcal

1 ounce elderflower liqueur

¼ ounce Aperol

1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice

Dried lime wheel

Combine the first four ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and shake until cold. Strain into a chilled Nick and Nora glass. “Garnerish” with dried lime wheel.

Note: The drink means “Jennifer I love you” in Italian.