Inside Lady Gaga’s Wine Country weekend
By CHRIS SMITH
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Lady Gaga and her boyfriend and two bodyguards may not have been anywhere you were this weekend.
But a few lucky people spotted and even posed for pictures with the jet-setting entourage at two restaurants in Sonoma Valley — Sonoma’s Best deli and The Girl & the Fig — and at Catelli’s in Geyserville and Nick’s Cove on Tomales Bay.
The pop superstar’s quiet visit to Sonoma County exploded into public view on social networks, as fans snapped pictures with their cellphones and posted the photos on Facebook and Twitter.
There is some talk, unconfirmed, that the 25-year-old singer may be shopping for a house in the area.
Chef Domenica Catelli said she doesn’t know about that. But she does know why Lady Gaga and her beau, actor-model Taylor Kinney, came Saturday night into the north-county restaurant she owns with her brother, Nicholas Catelli.
Domenica Catelli acted as a consultant for the restaurant, Joanne Trattoria, that the singer’s parents, Joseph and Cynthia Germanotta, opened earlier this month on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. And Catelli met the star at a New Year’s Eve party in New York.
Catelli said Lady Gaga and Kinney were enjoying a Wine Country getaway weekend when they came to the Geyserville restaurant for her signature lasagna.
Lady Gaga was completely gracious, Catelli said, and by walking unannounced into the kitchen she “made the day of two of my kitchen staff who are big fans of hers.”
The star, who was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, was the fourth-highest grossing concert act in North America last year, raking in $67.3 million, according to Pollstar. She is scheduled to start her new “Born This Way Ball” tour in April in South Korea.
Last weekend, she toured Sonoma County with her beau in a white, convertible Audi R8. The car alone caused a stir when it pulled up to Sonoma’s Best deli and wine shop at midday Friday.
“I was the one who recognized her,” owner Gayle Jenkins said. “What I noticed is that she was wearing these cute, six-inch stiletto heels. That’s kind of uncommon for Sonoma.”
Jenkins was sure she was Lady Gaga when she spoke. The restaurateur quietly approached and asked, “‘Are you Lady Gaga?’ She said, ‘I am.’”
“I asked her if I could have a picture of her and she was reluctant,” Jenkins said. But then she allowed a bodyguard to use Jenkins’ iPhone to snap a photo of the two of them, with Jenkins’ arm around Lady Gaga and the star touching Jenkins’ hand.
“She is very, very pleasant, very kind,” Jenkins said. “You can tell she’s very kindhearted.”
The singer ordered a lunch to go that included four meatballs. Jenkins was told by the bodyguards, who came in several times over the weekend for Blue Bottle Coffee, that the entourage was staying in a private home on the east side of Sonoma Valley.
The party of four lunched Saturday at Nick’s Cove in Marshall. General Manager Dena Grunt heard about the visit as she did her weekend shopping an hour’s drive away.
“My chef called and said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘Shopping at Costco, what you are you doing?’ He said, ‘Oh, nothing. I’m just cooking for Lady Gaga.’”
“I almost threw my phone,” Grunt said. She’s a big Lady Gaga fan and her 9-year-old, who was with her at the store, an even bigger fan.
Nick’s was too far away for Grunt and her son to get there in time to see the star. She learned that nobody on her staff bothered the visitors. In fact, most staffers weren’t certain who the pretty young woman was.
“It looked like her, but they weren’t really sure because she is usually in Gaga gear,” Grunt said.
As pained as Grunt and her son were to miss the celebrity, one of the owners of Nick’s was beside himself.
“He’s seen her 10 times, even traveled to New Delhi to see her,” Grunt said.
After dining Saturday night at Catelli’s, Lady Gaga and Kinney and the two bodyguards ventured out Sunday for a late lunch at Sondra Bernstein’s The Girl & The Fig in Sonoma.
Bernstein was working at home when her on-duty manager phoned to say Lady Gaga was in the house. Bernstein didn’t get over to greet the guest, but was told that several young people approached her for photos and she was extremely gracious to them.
“They sat at the bar,” she said. “They were there a little more than an hour.
“She told the staff they ate at Catelli’s and they were out looking for houses.”
Bernstein later went onto Facebook to post a photo and a note about the celebrity party’s lunch.
“Lady Gaga just left the fig!” she wrote. “She had a great time with Kim at the bar, took some pix with some fans, ate some mussels, beet salad, croque with an egg and some fig kisses!”
Bernstein said none of her past Facebook postings attracted a fraction of attention as that one.
“It’s unbelievable,” she said.
Bernstein was sorry she missed the star, while her servers were thrilled that they didn’t.
“She was very generous,” she said. “The bartender was happy.”
Bernstein dreamed aloud about getting Lady Gaga together in Sonoma with the valley’s “The Bachelor” star, Ben Flajnik.
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