Ristorante Allegria Review
1026 1st St.
Ristorante Allegria menus | Lunch | Dinner |
Ristorant Allegria website
Hours: Mon- Th 11:30 am to 2:30 pm & 5 pm to 10 pm, Fri - Sat 12 pm to 11 pm, Sunday 5 pm to 10 pm
Ristorante Allegria food
One interesting thing that Allegria does is serve you bread with this really tasty olive oil, fried shallots, basil, and garlic mixture. It's sweet, fresh, garlicky, etc. and it's really addictive with the bread. If you're not paying attention, you'll inhale your bread with this spread before they even get your wine out to you.
Appetizers are overall fine. Nothing spectacular, but enough to pass the time for the entrees. Their calamari was fine. The funghi portobello mushrooms were better with the crumbled blue cheese and marinara sauce. I think they could probably drop the marinara sauce and replace it with something lighter. We've also had the dungeness crab cakes which overall were good with with the sweetness of the crab balanced with the sourness of the cucumber and onion relish. I figure if you're going to go with the Asian highlights, you might as well use panko crust for the crab cakes to give it a good crunch when your fork goes through it.
The dinner menu is stronger than the appetizer menu if you're looking for a filling Italian meal. It seems like every time I go to Allegria, I always end up something with a fairly strong, heavy cream sauce which apparently is more common in Northern Italian cuisine. For instance, I had a delicious mushroom ravioli with bay scallops and rock shrimp in a garlic cream sauce with some bits of acidity from the tomatoes and white wine in the sauce. Although the menu said wild mushrooms, I thought they looked like shitake mushrooms. But it's a bit hard to tell with the strength of the sauce (vampires beware). Heavy yes, but that didn't stop me from sopping up the sauce with a piece of bread or two (or four...)
Other solid (and heavy) dishes include the penne con pollo which is chicken breast with sun-dried tomatoes in a chipotle-basil sauce. The pollo ripieno is a breaded chicken stuffed with ricotta cheese and herbs with sweet pepper cream. The risotto frutti de mare with prawns, scallops, and mussels with saffron, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts is a relatively light dish compared to these (if you consider risotto light...). We once had the skirt steak with garlic mashed potatoes and some onion rings. The skirt steak was very tender and moist and overall yummy, but it was also very teriyaki-based. This was much more a Japanese dish than an Italian one. This type of thing was a bit too non-Italian for me. I thought the onion rings were a little weird to have on top of the dish too. Not only were they under-seasoned, but the batter and or the fry was off, resulting in some wimpy onion rings. Panko crust would have worked better for that one too.
Desserts at Allegria are overall fine. Nothing too aggressive. They have common desserts like fruit tarts, sorbets, and a warm chocolate brownie pie. They take pride in their bread pudding with creme anglaise, and we agree that it is probably the best of their desserts.
Ristorante Allegria setting and service
Allegria sits in a historic bank. You can make reservations to eat in their vault actually. One really cool thing about the building is that it has a nice high ceiling which, along with the pillars on the wall, gives the place a strong visual oomph when you walk in. The lighting and coloring is a bit weird though. Everything comes out yellow during the evening between the lighting and the yellow / tan walls . Weirder, they probably have the ugliest lamps we've ever seen in a restaurant hanging from the ceiling and mucking up the view of that nice ceiling because of the width of the lamps (at least where we were sitting). When they're lit up, it looks like two huge pairs of bloodshot eyes are looking down on you.
They have an outside seating area that faces the downtown square of Napa, not that there is a lot to see there (well, there's First Squeeze, Tres Hermanos, a piano shop, a closed down NV, Mervyn's...zzzzz) Service is overall fine. When we first went there, it seemed like the waiters were a bit older and you would see some males. It seems like every time since then, they've tended to be younger and always female. The place is pretty loud. You will have to up the volume in your discussion to be heard. The tables are close enough that you'll be hearing a number of neighbors' conversations and vice-versa. Here are some pictures of Allegria from their site.
Allegria is an accessible Italian restaurant. It's not a place to see and be seen or mingle with the famous people. It seems like the crowd is a bit older and gets a decent amount of hotel traffic. Its food is similar. It's not trying to re-define Italian food. It's just trying to serve up satisfying Northern Italian fare in a comfortable setting.
Price of our meal
As Napa Valley restaurants go, Ristorante Allegria is moderately priced. Appetizers, 2 glasses of wine, 2 entrees, 1 dessert, was only only $97 plus tax and tip. I've heard people complain that there are much better places to eat in Napa Valley. Yes, that's true. A lot of them will cost you $30-$50 more though.