Patio Dining Takes Our Breath Away at The Waterboy

As a young girl, I delighted in my visits to my great aunt’s kitchen. There, she would give us lessons in cooking Northern Italian comfort foods that reflected her early family life around the table. Her recipes were not written down and her dishes were made with heart from ingredients she had on hand. Hand-crafting gnocchi di patate was one of my all-time favorite opportunities. Perched on little stools to reach her counter, we would discuss the quality of the potatoes to perfect the dough, the importance of simmering homemade sauce, and proper finger-to-fork rolling techniques. Despite our lumpy, oversized dumplings, those that children learn from, the best part was sitting down on her warm porch patio to savor the taste of this most amazing pasta plate.

My love of Mediterranean-inspired cuisine has not tapered over the years. In fact, my appetite for food, travel, and culture has led me to explore the many culinary attributes of regions both here and abroad.

So, imagine my delight when I discovered a wonderful Mediterranean-inspired restaurant in Midtown Sacramento. The Waterboy can be described as an upscale dining establishment with a seasonal menu celebrating both local flavors as well as the colorful cuisines of Northern Italy and Southern France. The Waterboy’s award-winning chef, Rick Mahan, has been a pioneer of the capital’s farm-to-fork scene and humbly states, “I’ve always taken a great deal of pride in highlighting food originating from a farm. Sourcing seasonal farm-fresh ingredients and curating local food with care has been one of the most satisfying accomplishments of my career.” Chef Mahan’s careful attention to creating fine fare has been extended to the venue’s design details and refined ambiance that make The Waterboy a standout. Mahan has not only created an exquisite menu that brings out the best flavors using the freshest ingredients, but his heartfelt cooking has created an experience reminiscent of those afternoons sharing memories over a plate of pasta.

I discovered The Waterboy when searching for a restaurant to take my BFF out for a special birthday lunch, a post-pandemic field trip of sorts, venturing farther than our Sac-sub-urban hangouts. While many restaurants closed due to the fall-out of Covid-19, I was happy to find The Waterboy had expanded its patio seating to accommodate mandatory outdoor dining. While we looked forward to perusing the thoughtful menu reviewed online, we had no idea our day would be transformational.

Upon arrival, we were escorted through a beautiful modern dining room onto a charming sidewalk patio that matched the light and airy nature of both the people and the place. While the temperatures were climbing, we were comfortably cooled by a custom patio misting system designed by Koolfog, experts in mist cooling. For Mahan, the addition of the misting system made the changes Covid brought to dining a bit easier. He says, “We had such limited seating (during the pandemic), and putting the misting system on our new outside dining spaces, definitely, helped to make it easier to sell reservations on the patio. It has visually made a difference as well. We get noticed, and people are set at ease when they see the mist because it fosters a sense of relief when it’s hot. It looks nice and has really worked to cool customers. We are, really, happy with the Koolfog system.”

patio misting at the waterboy sacramento

Dining under the misters, our birthday lunch began with a bit of bubbly as a friendly staff service person walked us through the specials of the day and asked about any dietary restrictions. While the menu left us with many mouth-watering choices, we fixated on the Potato Gnocchi description. Served in a Mushroom and Eggplant Bolognese with braised artichokes, sauteed garlic, and Reggiano cheese, the combination of ingredients and flavors sounded intriguing. We were not disappointed.

The gorgeous gnocchi smelled of heaven and made a pretty presentation on the plate. With every bite, there was a medley of tastes to compliment the complexity of flavor in our mouths. Yet, these were not the round dough balls of my youth. Chef Mahan’s pasta was petite in size, each artfully rolled and sauced to perfection. The little pasta pieces produced a dazzling pop of spice but worked in harmony as if in appreciation for capturing the essence of its Italian roots. At that moment, I took a breath, taking it all in… it made so much sense for us to be sharing this meal while sitting on The Waterboy’s rustic patio. Our table was set with crisp linens, being cooled by the soft, breezy air…this was the Mediterranean-influenced al fresco escape we had been yearning for… and with that, our post-pandemic milestone birthday lunch became so much more. By sharing the best of The Waterboy’s Italian comfort food, we were welcomed with a side trip down memory lane. Thank you, Chef Mahan; we look forward to many more foody adventures with your genius.

About Michelle Roe

From ‘A’ for movie star Ashley Judd to ‘Z’ for fashion designer Zang Toi, former Marketing/Creative Director, Michelle Arzino Roe has covered entertainment, fashion, food, and travel with her written words having graced the pages of Palm Springs Life Magazine, Desert Publication’s 90 Days of Summer, Empire Polo Lifestyle Magazine, the book, Encountering Women, as well as various California media outlets. Her articles for Koolfog focus on the lifestyle benefits of Koolfog misting systems at amusement parks, restaurants, hotels and public events as well the valuable impact in various other industries.