It’s been an interesting year for restaurants in wine country. Ninebark opened and quickly became our favorite new restaurant, but then just as fast, it abruptly closed. Atlas Social, another beloved local eatery, closed its doors, too. However, a bunch of high profile restaurants opened. There is Miminashi, a sensational spot for ramen and rice dishes, Basalt, an upscale eatery specializing in California cuisine, and Two Birds One Stone, a Japanese yakitori from famed chefs Douglas Keane and Sang Yoon. Several highly anticipated places have yet to open: The Meadowood team’s Charter Oak, which will be in the old Tra Vigne space and Michael Chiarello’s latest venture—an Eataly-style all-day shop and restaurant called Ottimo. But, wait, that’s not all! Five other new restaurants are on our radar. Learn more about them below. One things for sure, your next trip to wine country will be downright delicious.
Blue Note Napa
The first west coast outpost of legendary New York jazz club, Blue Note, opened in Napa on Tuesday, October 25 with a performance by Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter Chris Botti. Blue Note Napa’s new home is the historic Napa Valley Opera House, a two story building dating back to the 1880s, with venues on each floor. The restaurant is being run by chef Christophe Gerard, previously of the Farm at the Carneros Inn, whose culinary philosophy is to use fresh, quality, locally-sourced ingredients in simple provençal-style preparations. Internationally renowned local artist, Gordon Huether, designed the unique interiors that features sculptural elements and brass and string instruments.
Not every meal in wine country has to be an elaborate multi-course feast, right? When you’re in a hurry and want a delicious dinner in a casual setting, Protea is an excellent new option. The Yountville eatery is from chef Anita Cartagena, a Puerto Rico native with a resume that includes Ciccio and Atelier Crenn. The menu changes daily and is an eclectic mix of Latin dishes like shrimp tostada and ham and cheese quesadilla, and international favorites such as Greek salad, red beans and rice, and stir-fry. The cool thing about Protea is the rooftop dining area. It seats 30 people and will certainly be a great spot to host events when the weather heats up.
The owners of Kenzo Estate, Kenzo and Natsuko Tsujimoto, are opening Kenzo, a luxe new Japanese restaurant in downtown Napa in mid-November. The Tsujimotos have invited the highly acclaimed chef, Hiroyuki Kanda, whose namesake restuarant Kanda in Japan has earned three Michelin stars for the past nine years, to oversee the kitchen. With a prix-fixe kaiseki and sushi menu, Kenzo hopes to be like the French Laundry or the Restaurant at Meadowood. Two years of intensive and meticulous planning have gone into Kenzo and no detail, from the clean modern decor to the unparalleled selection of seafood, has been overlooked.
Sonoma County is upping its culinary game thanks to Katina and Kyle Connaughton. The couple have recently opened Single Thread, a farm, restaurant, and inn that offers an experience unlike any other. The farm supplies all of the restaurants vegetables, fruit, herbs, flowers, honey, eggs, and olive oil. Other ingredients are from a team of hand-selected highly-specialized artisans, forgers, and farmers. All of the pots, dishware, vases, and serving vessels come from the Nagatani family of Iga, Japan. They are the 8th generation of a long line of master potters. The 11-course tasting menu changes daily and has strong Japanese and French influences.
On Saturday, November 5th, Francis Ford Coppola will open Werowocomoco, a new restaurant in Geyserville at Virginia Dare Winery. The wacky, but fun-to-say name comes from a 17th-century Algonquin settlement, a powerful Native American settlement that was located along the York River in Virginia. Today the region is populated by the highly-respected Pamunkey Indian Tribe. The chief of the tribe has personally given Coppola the permission to name his restaurant Werowocomoco. Coppola promises to honor the cultural heritage and vibrant history of the tribe. The menu is inspired by the culinary traditions of North American’s earliest inhabitants. Think bison ribs with berry barbecue sauce, wild rice with cranberries, and fry bread tacos with an assortment of fillings.