1425 1st Street
Napa, CA 94559
Directions to Oenotri
5:30PM to 9:30PM Sunday thru Wednesday
5:30PM to 12:00 midnight Thursday, Friday and Saturday
Oenotri's head chefs, Tyler Rodde and Curtis Di Fede, hail from Oliveto in Oakland. Does Napa really need another Italian restaurant? The answer is definitely yes if it's Oenotri.
One interesting thing about Oenotri is that they don’t have the typical appetizer menu you see in Napa. They have salads or a very extensive salumi menu which is all made on the premesis. We went with the Chef’s choice of 6 items. This with cheese and wine and bread would probably qualify as a small meal in itself. I don’t really get the opportunity to get that many different kinds of Italian cured meats in one seating so it was nice (and delicious). I think next time around, I probably would've asked for higher cheese to meat ratio.
The pasta is handmade. Bucatini was cooked perfectly and wide enough to double as a straw. Al dente, almost chewy, and the pancetta tomato-based sauce was solid and zesty with a little kick. The size of the serving felt a little on the small side (or maybe it was the size of the plate). It looked a bit like an Uva half-plate, but you know, people tend to get over-served pasta anyway.
My porchetta dish was some tasty, fatty porchetta. Some good crunch on the meat, very flavorful, very juicy, heart-attack-inducing porchetta. And there was a surprisingly large amount of porchetta on the plate too. Although there are some token leafy bits on the top, I wished there was something on the plate I could use to break up the richness of the porchetta a little (it went really well with the bucatini though...)
We got a side of polenta with gorgonzola which was fine. Nice and creamy.
Dessert was a orange blossom infused panna cotta with grilled strawberries. The panna cotta was nice and silky smooth with each bite having the aroma and taste of orange blossom. There was a part of me though that kept thinking I was eating a really smooth, delicious air freshener.
We were sitting in between some people who had pizza, and they smelled really good. It looked like they had a large wood-fired brick pizza oven in the back so we’ll definitely try one of those later. Ok, well, we did try them later. Pepperoni with red onion and arugula.
This one with mozzerella and ricotta with fava leaf and walnut pesto.
The pizzas are very good. Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside. They smell awesome. It's amazing what a wood-fired brick pizza oven at 800 degrees can do for you. Actually, I like them more than Azzurro's thin crust ones as I like a slightly poofy crust.
Assuming the quality holds up, it’s probably one of the best Italian restaurants in the Napa Valley area if you’re looking for fancier Italian fare. I'd probably stick it as #2 behind Bottega. Definitely the best in downtown Napa. It’s nice to have an Italian restaurant that tastes more Italian and less Cali-talian.
Oenotri setting and service
Located right across the new Avia hotel like Norman Rose, the Oenotri benefits from a great presence. Despite being open for only about a week, it was packed when we got in on a rainy weekday.
Because it’s a pretty open seating area, noise carries, people have to talk at a pretty good volume to be heard which causes others to speak louder, and so on. The tables at Oenotri are annoyingly long so there is a good distance between you and the person you’re sitting across which forces you to speak more loudly. IT IS LOUD once it fills up. Not the best place if you need some privacy or you don’t want to hear everybody else’s conversation. But the noise and close quarters gives you that bustling crowd energy vibe.
Service was ok for a new restaurant which means it will get better. It’s rare that new restaurants have all the bugs worked out, especially when you’re pretty full right at the start. But I thought the effort was there, and they did their best to remedy any problems.
The entrance is on the side so save yourself the embarrassment of trying to open the street-side door where everybody is looking at your yanking at the door (the big open windows face the street) They’re going for that upscale abandoned warehouse look. It’s a little drafty in there, something to keep in mind if it’s cold outside. Kitchen is open to the restaurant so you can see the chefs scrambling around.
I don't know how long they'll keep their "until midnight" hours as downtown Napa is pretty much dead by 9:00. But hey, if it keeps it up, we'll be thrilled as we won't have to go all the way to Bouchon for a good late meal at say 10:00. Being right across from the Avia hotel might make it possible though.
Price of our meal
Chef’s pick of salumi (6 types), 1 side, 2 glasses of wine, 1 dessert, tax & tip = $120
The main entrees at Oenotri run around $20-$25. Pasta runs you around $16. A small to medium sized pizza is about $12-$16 too. The chef 6 was $14. So, they have something for everybody. The price is pretty reasonable for the level of food.
Other Oenotri reviews and links
- Napa Valley article talking about the Oenotri coming to Napa
- Napa Valley article giving a deeper preview of Oenotri.
- San Francisco Chronicle review