The Gastro-Goth Lounge Napa Never Knew It Needed

Empire, a new lounge and restaurant in Downtown Napa next to Andaz Hotel (formerly Avia), ushered in its arrival with not one, not two, but three nights of grand opening festivities. Small plate bites were passed offering a peek at the small but eclectic menu (mashed potatoes, meatballs and mac and cheese on the “nostalgia” [...]

Rudy Mihal

Rudy Brings Right Touch to Sonoma

Restaurant Rudy might just be the best little restaurant in the heart of Wine Country you never heard of. Rudy Mihal, who left Spoonbar last year to start his own place, opened the new spot quietly this fall in Sonoma, in an unassuming space that has been a revolving door with three restaurants in a [...]


Barrel Stave BBQ in Sonoma

All that 40 percent new French oak here and 30 percent new oak there means if there is one thing Wine Country has too much of (besides over-oaked wine) it’s old French oak. And there are only so many candle holders and rocking chairs one can sell to tourists. But used barrels are now answering [...]

French Blue patio

The Blue Marie, a Bloody Mary with a French Accent

Three sweet little words: Now serving brunch. Few phrases bring more joy to our hearts here at TTG HQ in the brunch hinterlands of Napa. What was once a desert, devoid of benedicts and bloodies, has been shaping up of late. French Blue in St. Helena is the latest restaurant to begin full-on brunch service [...]

Rendering of the restored Fagiani's

Fagiani’s Fits Fabric of Napa with ‘Floating Glass Wine Cave’

The latest details on the rising of Fagiani’s in downtown Napa, which we’d previously reported would reach three-stories and include a rooftop bar and dining area, were delivered in the form of a typically perfunctory Paolo Lucchesi missive. The redesign and operation of the long-shuttered restaurant is in the capable hands of NYC-based design troupe AvroKo, which is [...]

Tacos Garcia fence at Pancha's

Tacos Garcia Truck Rolls Back to Yountville

Rejoice people of Yountville. The Tacos Garcia truck usually stationed outside Pancha’s on Washington Street in Yountville is back. The truck had been missing since a horrific fire tore through a shopping center in Napa and destroyed its parent restaurant. The sad stretch of broken fence in the Pancha’s parking lot where the truck usually [...]


Between the Sheets at The French Laundry

The clock above the kitchen door reads 10:30 a.m. The first wave of prep cooks — which have been here for more than five hours — are moving in accordance with Chef Thomas Keller’s simple reminder placard beneath the second-keeping clock: “A Sense of Urgency,” it reads. Which is exactly what is needed in order [...]

The wood-burning oven at Ciccio in Yountville

Fired Up: Ciccio’s Quest For The Perfect Pizza Crust

“I’m so over food that needs a pedigree. We’re just going to cook,” says Polly Lappetitio, the Chef at Frank Altamura’s (of Altamura Winery) soon-to-open pizzeria, Ciccio, in Yountville. Having spent 13 years at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone restaurant (the last five as Executive Chef) we can understand her need to simplify. For [...]

Fagiani's Rising

Fagiani’s Rising

Fagiani’s, the historic bar at 831 Main Street in Napa, is literally rising again. The figurative rising began in 2008, when the building’s new owner Steve Hasty cleared decades of dust from the old bar and opened the doors to a small group. The building had been sealed and its contents — cocktail glasses, cases [...]

French Blue

Something Borrowed: Howard Backen’s French Blue Takes Shape

The construction site in St. Helena, which come May 29th will boast Napa’s latest dining destination French Blue, is abuzz (literally) with saws and workmen fitting things, and amid the clatter, Howard Backen is energetic, but perfunctory when explaining where this will hang and that will go with a flutter of his fingers. Make no [...]


Does Piaci Make the North Coast’s Best Pizza?

Among the long line of P-words in which one can indulge while on the North Coast, “pizza” might not be the first to pop up. Sure there are fields of pennyroyal surrounding rows of pinot and pockets of pot plants. In Fort Bragg you’ll also find pilsner-a-plenty at the North Coast Brewing Co., (whose Scrimshaw [...]

The tables are made from reclaimed redwood

Inside Goose & Gander: Now Open

Completely renovating a beloved local icon can be risky business. Judging from the reactions at a preview this weekend, Andy Florsheim and the team behind Goose & Gander can breath easy, though. The new crew has done right by the 90-year-old landmark. Let’s be honest: As great as The Martini House was under Todd Humphries and [...]

Super Friends 1973

Bar Stars Beattie and Pazdon Bringing Classics, Hand-Cut Ice to Goose & Gander

The old Martini House, empty more than a year now, will roar back to life next week as Andy Florsheim’s Goose & Gander. Florsheim has assembled a bar team supergroup of sorts (we are thinking more Super Friends or maybe the powers of Voltron uniting than Velvet Revolver, but you be the judge). Today, we [...]


Middling Mediterranean Falls Prey To The Plague of Mediocrity

It can’t be easy to open a new restaurant in one of the most well-trod dining destinations in the world. But most restaurants that open in Napa Valley do not aspire to be crowned with Michelin stars or spawn series of cookbooks. Instead, restaurateurs hope to be consistent enough to attract a devoted local following [...]


The Yelping Class: The Chronically Dissatisfied Modern Diner

As a wine and hospitality professional I study service obsessively. The ability to anticipate guests’ needs and to guide them through dining or drinking experiences that will leave them loving your establishment — and loving food and wine in general — more than they did before is the mission of nearly every person who works [...]

Boss Hogg: Spoils of The Flesh in LA

Black Hogg is that rarest of places in Los Angeles. One where men can eat, women can indulge, and life stops for a few hours or so.  The staff understands this fact and accommodates the diner, not pushing him out the door, but instead encouraging him to make a night of it and indulge in [...]


Habit Forming Lines In Napa

The Habit Burger Grill added its fourth Bay Area location today when it opened in Napa (joining shops in Walnut Creek, Pleasanton and San Mateo) to much ballyhoo. And by ballyhoo we mean lines out the door like you would see at Bouchon on a Sunday if they were giving out free gold bars (and by gold [...]

Straight Outta Cabot: Brassica Dining Room

Brassica’s Wine Program Actually Interesting (But, Oh That Gingham)

Cindy Pawlcyn’s recent attempt to reinvigorate the former Go Fish space by replacing light fixtures, ditching the table cloths and exchanging the epic seafood-centric menu for a more manageable variety of Mediterranean small plates is largely a failure. Renamed Brassica, the restaurant still feels awkwardly large and like a dated take on farmhouse chic. And [...]

More Goose & Gander Details

More details on Goose & Gander,  the highly anticipated restaurant filling the Martini House space in Saint Helena have rolled in. And from the sound of things the spot is going to be worth the wait. And a hearty affair. For starters, literally, you’ve got Chef Kelly McCown’s housemade charcuterie to whet your appetite for menu anchors [...]


Farmers Market: Ciccio Bringing Fresh, Ingredient-Driven Italian To Yountville

Frank Altamura grew up frequenting the little Italian grocery in Yountville on Washington Street. Since those days, a lot has changed. All around the diminutive free-standing wooden building with the distinctive facade, the machinations of wine country boom and celebrity chef superstardom have proliferated, turning the sleepy town into something else. And though the building [...]

Check Out Coffee Caboose in Yountville’s New Crepe Menu

Hungry java junkies, wasted winos and famished Francophiles now have a new options amid Yountville’s scant but growing choices for a quick bite. Coffee Caboose, the coffee stand across from Bouchon houses in an old train car, has been serving up crepes both sweet savory for the past week. The classics — ham and cheese [...]


New Restaurant Flips Martini House

What’s Good for the goose is good for the Gander — or in this case, what was good for The Martini House is good for the Goose & Gander. When the much-loved Martini House in Saint Helena closed in late fall of 2010, many up-valley locals attempted to drown themselves in the river. The rest [...]

Why Thomas Keller Can Shill For American Express And It Not Be Bullshit

It’s easy to be cynical about Chef Thomas Keller getting all weepy and nostalgic for Yountville and his bay laurel tree while hawking for American Express, as he did in the above ad that aired during the Oscars last night. It’s easy because Yountville is a wine country theme park, and Keller is one of [...]

Lucy Table

Lucy’s Lift: Bardessono’s Restaurant Gets Much More Than a Nip-n-Tuck

Let’s face it. No one wants to eat in a hotel. Hotel restaurants far too often feel like an extension of the lobby — and anything that feels even remotely lobby-like is not exactly appetite inducing. The restaurant at Bardessono, a contemporary, well-designed hotel that opened in Yountville in 2009, had been cursed with the [...]

Wine Country Represents: James Beard Semifinalists Announced

More thrilling than the Oscar and the Grammy awards combined (for us, at least), the annual James Beard Foundation Awards recognizes some of the best, most interesting and most dedicated professionals in the food and wine world. And while not surprising, given the number of restaurants and producers in this area, we were excited to [...]