POSTED ON April 14, 2010 | IN Restaurants | BY Joe Becerra

If new restaurants are any gauge of how the economy is doing, then it must be doing just fine in the town of Napa. Since January, there have been three new restaurants that have opened, one at the Oxbow Public Market, two in the downtown area. In the summer, three more restaurants are slated to open in the Riverfront Residences development. That feels like a lot of competition for restaurant owners, but one would think that investors have reason to believe these restaurants will make it as the economy recovers.

At the Oxbow, the new restaurant is C Casa, a taqueria, but it actually won’t open until May 1 because of a few delays. In downtown Napa, Grace Table opened in January and last month it was Oenotri, a fancy pizzeria on First Street. The three restaurants to open on the Riverfront are heavy hitters. First, the Lark Creek Restaurant Group will open a seafood restaurant, Fish Story. Two nationally-known chefs, “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto and Tyler Florence of the Food Network will open in spacious spots with river views. Who is next, Mario Batali?

Ubuntu now open seven nights per week
Over at Ubuntu things are getting back to normal after the departure of Jeremy Fox and others in February. Aaron London is the new chef and Carl Swanson is the new pastry chef. Aaron is a rising star, only 26 years old but not lacking in experience. He began his restaurant career in Sonoma at age 14. This must be a lot of pressure for this young chef. Last year Ubuntu and its vegetarian fare was a Michelin star-rated restaurant, so let us see if things continue that way in 2010. Beginning this week, Ubuntu restaurant will re-open for dinner service seven nights a week, from 5:30pm to 9:00pm. To celebrate, Ubuntu will offer 2-for-1 sangria and complimentary bites highlighting new dishes from Chef Aaron London’s menu.

The Ubuntu Dining Room

The Ubuntu Dining Room

Farmstead in St. Helena
Over in St. Helena the recently-opened restaurant Farmstead by Long Meadow Ranch is bringing in huge crowds, but Michael Bauer’s review in the San Francisco Chronicle was not very favorable. He liked the steak, the number of wines in the $20 range and the corkage fee but not much else apparently, because he gave the restaurant a rating of 1.5 stars out of a possible 4. Well, he should like the steak, the beef comes straight from Long Meadow Ranch’s grass-fed cows. By the way, the corkage fee is $2 and donated to charity.


  1. B says

    We only have a few days to visit wine country and a limited budget (few hundred left over after airfare and hotel), what should we see? And are we better to rent a car in San Fran and do the driving ourselves or take on of these tours? Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

    • joe says

      There are tours from downtown S.F. at Union Square. Or, rent a car and follow one of our wine trails. Check with S.F. Chamber for the pickup spots in SF. for tours to the Napa Valley.