Recently stopped in on Rocabella, a fairly new Mediterranean restaurant at 1st and Main Streets, a 10 minute casual walk from The Inn On First, a romantic Bed and Breakfast Inn in Napa. With all dishes under $14 we decided to invite some friends to dinner and enjoy the experience with them and to order as much as we could together.
The food: we loved it. Continue reading
Only a ten minute walk from Napa’s luxury Bed and Breakfast Inn, The Inn On First, is Carpe Diem Wine Bar and Restaurant; what we call a “small plates restaurant”, meaning you order to share. Where else can you be tempted by the daily taco of the day (filet mignon with pomegranate glaze, or shrimp pad thai, or pulled pork with a chipotle sauce, or lamb with pickled slaw- every bite delicious!) that changes all the time according to the chef’s inventiveness and seasonal ingredients.
I’m a fan of their pork steam buns, the short ribs, and their filet mignon with red rice cake. Yet by the time you get there these may be gone and replaced with some other yummy dish for you to choose. The fried olives are still a favorite of mine, and the truffled popcorn is downright addictive. You swear you will stop eating it, and yet your hands keep reaching. Jamie loved the brussell sprouts flatbread (you know I’m a hater so I don’t touch the stuff!), and the soft housemade burrata with olive oil drizzle and toast points is always fun.
This restaurant is fun, exciting, and always busy, so reservations are a must. With so many wines by the glass, too, it makes it really interesting to try new wines with these dishes. We’ve even had guests return two nights in a row just so they could try out other dishes and different wines. Stephanie and Scott, Owners, Hostess and Chef, make this must-eat stop in Napa. Oh, and seriously, if they ever take the Twix Bar off the dessert menu I might consider picketing the establishment.
Only a fifteen minute drive from The Inn On First, a romantic Napa Bed and Breakfast Inn, is Brix Restaurant. As my friend Donna Kaz was in town from NYC I wanted her to experience the beauty that the Brix Gardens enjoys while dining on incredible food.
As it was a bit later in the afternoon when we arrived (2 pm) we were practically alone on the patio for lunch. With spring blossoms everywhere in sight, as well as bud break beginning to show on the vines all around, the place could not have been more welcoming. We ordered the cold beet soup with a vegan base and a beautiful floral design of creme fraiche on top. It was a perfect accompaniment to a warm spring day. I ordered the asparagus salad, with a variety of white and green asparagus, and a light lemony dressing with petite brioche croutons. So far the meal was perfect.
Donna enjoyed the house salad with butter lettuce, english peas, and a garlic-yogurt dressing, although we were both sorely tempted by the tempura fried green beans and the steak tartare. The dungeness crab salad was tempting, but we tried to keep it light. We decided to split the lamb sandwich on housemade focaccia bread with the most lovely crisp french fries (okay, so maybe we tried to keep it partially light!). The bacon pizza looked delicious as we saw it delivered near us, as did the lamb bolognese.
Prices range from $8 to $18, for soups, appetizers, salads, sandwiches, pizzas, and main entrees. If you are here during the busier summer months I would suggest making a reservation and tell them you want to sit on the garden patio. If you ate my breakfast that morning you probably won’t be hungry again until 2 pm, which is a great time to sit and enjoy an afternoon break from wine tasting.
Just a 15-minute walk from The Inn On First, a bed and breakfast in Napa, is the restaurant Angele. With friends in town we decided to return to the restaurant as it had been awhile since we enjoyed the cuisine. With a new chef in the kitchen I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I can now report we weren’t disappointed.
The marinated beet salad called to me and I was enthusiastic with every bite, especially with the addition of fromage blanc (I have to admit I have a weakness for cheese in all its forms). I split that with Jamie as our friends split the heirloom tomato sald with figs and prosciutto (gladly they shared and we loved it). The quail was my main course, as it sounded just too yummy to pass up with figs and pancetta-leek au jus. Just delicious. Jamie obviously enjoyed the braised rabbit with tomato confit which he reluctantly gave up a bite to me.
Thankfully our friend ordered the Duo de Bouef with a small filet and braised shortrib and the pork shoulder with quinoa. To my disappointment no one ordered the sea bass, and when it was delivered to the table across the way I was sorry we couldn’t squeeze in one more dish. Check out the full late summer menu on their website.
We still think Angele is one of the great romantic restaurants in Napa, right along the river, with great food, perfect ambience, and wonderful service. A great value for your money.
It looks like a small Parisian cafe with candlelight throughout the restaurant and outside the small windows can be seen the lights mirroring off the Napa River. It is a small, intimate restaurant that has an inviting, romantic appeal. We began with cocktails (it is only one of 3 or 4 restaurants in historic Napa that serve cocktails)and they brought a lovely white bean dip with crositini as an appetizer. A nice touch to get the meal started. I ordered the leek and potato soup and was not disappointed by the creamy and velvety texture, and I followed it up with the sweetbreads that came with a fragrant, rich sauce on the plate that coated every piece. On my first bite I was a little overwhelmed by the sauce that I scooped up with my first piece, and quickly learned to leave more of the sauce on the plate and let the sweetbreads with a light drizzle of sauce inform my palate. Afterward it left plenty of sauce on the plate to sop up with the bread they served with the meal. Jamie ordered the mixed green salad and followed it up with the sea bass. The fish was cooked perfectly and came with a light sauce and some veggies on the plate that gave it a nice balance.
Our friends ordered the french onion soup (always a treat at Angele with the stringy cheese pulling at the spoon as you lift that first slurp to your mouth), the winter salad with apples and pears and nuts drizzled with a light vinaigrette, the creme fraiche gnocchi (light and airy pillow puffs that melted in your mouth) and the blackened cod (a nice white fish served in a broth). We paired everything with a Saintsbury Pinot that was delightful (Pinot seems to be the one wine that will go with just about everything). My only regret was that we had to run out at the end to get to our show at Silo’s (night club) so we could not fully enjoy the ambience of sipping coffee over dessert at the end. Alas, another time.