Tuesday, June 15, 2010

CA Coast: Napa Valley

CA Coast: Napa Valley

After our quick stay in San Francisco, we were off to Napa Valley, an amazing place.  I already want to go back!  Here's where we dined...

829 Main Street (between 2nd and 3rd Streets)
Napa, CA
ph - 707.224.8555

We loved being able to walk to dinner from our B&B in the town of Napa.  There were so many options, and since Napa is known for its fantastic restaurants, we knew it'd be hard to make a wrong decision.  So, our first night there, we opted to visit Zuzu, a tapas restaurant with comfortable ambiance and great reviews.

Here it is from the street:

When you're in wine country, you find that you eat all. day. long.  Most hotels and B&Bs serve up wonderful breakfasts, you find a charming place for lunch amidst the wineries, and you eat in between to combat against the effects of wine.  :)  And when you get back "home," you'll often find wine tastings and appetizers on the house.

So, by the time dinner rolls around, you're definitely hungry, but you're not starved.  At least that was the case for The Mr. and me.  While the restaurant suggested 4-5 tapas for a party of two, we figured three would be enough.  And it was perfect for our appetites.

Here's what we started with: Bacalao Frito, Crispy salt cod fritters with lemon-truffle aioli
Mmm.  Yum.

And then this!  It just kept getting better!  Is this not the largest couscous you've ever seen??  I questioned whether it was even couscous.  It tasted more like a round orzo.
Toasted Sardinian Couscous, with spring peas, favas, preserved lemon, and goat gouda

And finally, Niman Ranch Grass-Fed Flat-Iron Steak with roasted jalapeno chimichurri

The Final Verdict: Zuzu is a place I would return to again and again.  The food is great, the environment is enjoyable, and there are dozens of menu items that looked delicious.  Now I just have the reason to return!

1040 Clinton Street (at Brown)
Napa, CA
ph - 707.255.6646
email - info@uvatrattoria.com

Uva is in "downtown" Napa and proudly offers five nights of live jazz each week.  The loud music makes it a little tough to converse with tablemates, so either go with a lively crowd who will enjoy the party, or if you're one-on-one with a spouse or date, you'll be able to hear each other across the table.

One nice option that Uva offers is that many of their menu items can either be ordered in a small or large size.  So both ordered small sizes and tacked on an appetizer that caught our attention almost immediately: Arancini, pesto risotto balls filled with Teleme cheese, breaded and fried, and served with a spicy marinara sauce.  Decadent goodness.

Okay now, before you go judging based on looks alone, let me tell you that this meal was probably my favorite of our entire vacation down the coast.  It was rich, yes, but I had ordered the small size, so it wasn't too much.  And it hit the spot.  I loved it!

Gnocchi al Gorgonzola, Handmade gnocchi with a gorgonzola reduction

And The Mr.'s choice wasn't at all surprising to me.  He loves the traditional pastas.  And he was more than happy with Rigatoni alla Bolognese, Pasta with traditional Italian meat sauce.

The Final Verdict: Whenever we told people we were going (or had gone to) Uva, they had heard about it (or been to it) and confirmed that we were making (had made) the right decision.  I think it's just one of those places that you're guaranteed a good meal.  Just know going into it that you won't be dining in a quiet, romantic venue.  If the live jazz is playing, the place is everything but quiet.  But it has a fun vibe.  And people must like it, because it was packed.

1111 White Lane
St. Helena, CA  94574
ph - 707.963.7774

This was the perfect place for a picnic.  And had we had more time, it would've probably been the perfect place to share a bottle of wine.  V.Sattui was pretty crowded, but because they have acres of picnic grounds, it's easy to find a place to call your own.

Here's the picnic area we choose.  A nice, quiet bench in the shade.

The deli!  Look at all those cheeses!  (And, yes, that's The Mr. in the stripes).

My sandwich: Tri-Tip Beef with cheddar

And The Mr.'s: Prosciutto and mozzarella!

The Final Verdict: If you're in Napa, V. Sattui should be a stop on your list.  If you have the time (and can handle the wine!), pick up a bottle of wine to enjoy with your lunch.  But don't forget, only food and drink purchased at V. Sattui can be consumed in their picnic area.

7856 St. Helena Highway
Oakville, CA  94562
ph - 707.944.8802

This market has been around since 1881 -- it has to be good!  Not only does it serve up picnic supplies for tasters traveling up and down the Napa Valley, but it also offers an adorable selection of gourmet gifts, wine country souvenirs, and a few shelf items.

I had been looking forward to visiting Oakville Grocery since I started planning this trip.  I love exploring local markets, and when they have meats, cheeses, wines, AND a selection of baked goods, I am one happy camper.

The Mr. instantly eyed the sandwich menu immediately, and ended up choosing the Mediterranean Grilled Chicken with red pepper mayo, smoked mozzarella, arugula, and tomato.

I was craving something lighter.  I take that back.  I was craving something sweet.  But I felt like I should add something healthy to that mix, so edamame salad and peanut butter & chocolate chip cookie it was!  Yum.

The Final Verdict: Go to Oakville Grocery!  I just think it's such a cute little place.  And there's so much to choose from.  Although the space inside is cramped, the outside patio gives plenty of space to eat your lunch there.  If you are choosing between V. Sattui and Oakville Grocery as a lunch spot and can only hit ONE, I think I'd recommend V. Sattui -- the food was a little better and the atmosphere was much better too.  But try to stop by both!

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