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Napa: Grano at the Depot806 4th Street , Napa, CA , Phone: 707-252-4477
Closing day: Sunday
Reviewed by: Roz from CA, review #3578
Great little trattoria with reasonable prices.
Directions: Just off Soscol north of the railroad crossing, on the east side of the river.
The Napa Valley is a foodie’s delight, with no end of fabulous restaurants. But it can be hard to find a good meal here that doesn’t break the budget. That’s why we were happy to discover Grano at the Depot. We do hope that this little trattoria can stay afloat because it’s in a terrible location. Not that it’s in a bad neighborhood, but it shares its parking with a used car lot, and the access street is all torn up with construction now, so it’s not easy to find. It’s just across the river from a whole host of “destination” restaurants, which have more upscale menus and better views, but will cost you two or three times more.
If you’re in Napa and just want an excellent, reasonably priced pasta dinner, fresh and home made, Grano is definitely worth seeking out. The feature item is chitarra pasta – an Abruzzan specialty. Chitarra means “guitar” and the pasta is made by rolling out the dough and forcing it through something that looks like a rectangular guitar, the strings cutting the dough into individual strands. Then, in the Grano version, the pasta is brought to the table along with a whole, hollowed-out round of parmigiano. The server tosses it with an oil and garlic sauce inside the parmesan wheel, scraping off bits of cheese to add to the dish.
We had one dish of that chitarra and another of squid ink pasta in a slightly spicy tomato sauce surrounded by a big helping of fresh clams and mussels. Both were delicious, for $16 and $19 respectively.
Grano also has the most reasonably priced wine list we’ve found in Napa. The house wine is only $5 a glass, and there are several decent Italian wines for under $20.
We weren’t so impressed with the starter or dessert that we shared. The mozzarella in the caprese salad was okay, but there was no excuse for the pallid tomatoes surrounding it, especially when fresh tomatoes are in season at the local markets. The server told us that the desserts were made in house, but the panna cotta did not taste home made and was nothing special. Just stick with the home made pasta and a glass of wine, and finish off with an espresso for a good down-home Italian-style meal.
For some reason Grano doesn’t even list the chitarra pasta on the menu; I only knew about it because I had read a review online which sang its praises. Also, the server didn’t even know what chitarra pasta was; we had to explain it to her. I’m afraid that this is symptomatic of a lack of marketing savvy which may sink this restaurant again (this is the second time the same chef has worked in this location). I hope not, because it would be a shame to lose this little neighborhood gem.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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