Fresh finds on Napa’s food circuit – Ottimo at V Marketplace

By Janet Fletcher | San Francisco Chronicle – Travel | February 23, 2017

A dozen years ago, St. Helena was where Napa Valley visitors wanted to stay and to eat, with the town of Napa rarely getting more than a glance from the highway. But for food lovers, the center of gravity in the valley has indisputably shifted south, with most of the creative energy concentrated between Yountville and Napa. Of course, the up-valley towns of Oakville, St. Helena and Calistoga still offer plenty for the culinary traveler, but now you can have a delicious weekend “down valley,” too.

— Janet Fletcher;


Rising from the ashes of NapaStyle, chef Michael Chiarello’s defunct home-goods business, Ottimo fuses retail emporium and restaurant into a compelling experience. Hungry visitors will head for the U-shaped bar in the rear for fresh mozzarella (four types) with a choice of condiments or Neapolitan-style fried pizza finished in a wood oven. Acres of Carrara marble blanket the counters and bar-height tables, perhaps one clue to why this project, according to Chiarello, ran a million dollars over budget. Diners stand to eat “like in a train station,” says the chef. So make like you’re in Milan and chat up the stranger across the table while you toss back a macchiato or grab a prosciutto panino. Afterwards, tour the premises, a sort of foodie amusement park with a hosted tasting area for sampling housemade salumi and blood-orange marmalade; shelves of culinary collectibles like antique cheese graters and ravioli cutters; hand-pounded copperware from Naples and silver flatware from Florence; and exquisite carbon-steel chef’s knives from Bhutan. By spring, the restaurant expects to have house-brewed beer on tap with the help of an Italian consultant.

6525 Washington St. (in the V Marketplace), Yountville, (707) 944-0102.

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