Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Restaurant Review April 2008
By Dorothy and John Salmon
Dorothy and John enjoyed a lovely evening at ZinsValley Restaurant in the Browns Valley Shopping Center (3253 Browns Valley Road, Napa) where you will find a down-home country atmosphere and great food at reasonable prices. The menu proclaims “We can’t wait to feed you” and justifiably declares that “innovative American Cuisine” is served. It’s easy to find, just 1.5 miles west of Hwy. 29 from the First Street exit. As you travel down First Street toward Westwood Hills Park and Connolly Ranch, First Street becomes Browns Valley Road, where you enter a warm and friendly neighborhood that has gone from real country living to a comfortable blend of new homes mixed with a country ambiance.
ZinsValley Restaurant is situated in a charming red brick building in the Center and is the best of “neighborhood restaurants,” with no parking problems. Owners Greg and Teresa Johnson have been perfecting their robust food menu since 2000. Greg bakes his own bread each day. It’s wonderful and clearly shows the attention of being homemade. The delightful staff at ZinsValley greets customers with a smile and waiter Jason, hostess Jennifer and buser Sheri all made us feel very much at home.
ZinsValley seats 60 people in the main dining room and another 40 in the smaller adjoining room. When the weather is warm, 60 more diners can enjoy the outdoor patio area. Sitting outside at ZinsValley in the spring and summer is nothing short of magical. It’s like being in Yosemite, just minutes from downtown Napa.
Typically, you would not think you would be offered wild boar soup at a neighborhood restaurant, but that’s the kind of unique offering you will find at ZinsValley along with “to-die-for” calamari and just about the best Caesar salad dressing in Napa. You may choose vegetarian dishes like coconut yellow curry with baby bok choy, yams, shiitake mushrooms, snow peas and jasmine rice or their “polenta sheets” lasagna filled with baby spinach and cheese.
With their full bar, Dorothy experimented and enjoyed a wonderful Mandarin Orange Cosmopolitan, while John stayed with his more traditional scotch on the rocks with a twist. Dorothy had the zinfandel braised lamb shank, Yukon gold–parsnip whipped potatoes and great baby carrots. John delighted in swordfish with garlic mashed potatoes and perfect broccoli. Since ZinsValley is famous for their very well-put-together wine list with a special touch for zinfandels we ordered a bottle of Peachy Canyon Zinfandel. Most dinners are priced between $14.00 and $24.00 and the wine list is fabulous.
On this night, we also enjoyed dessert in honor of our pal St. Patrick. We HAD to order the pistachio-crusted Bailey’s Irish Cream cheesecake with Guinness syrup because it was so close to March 17. Okay, maybe that is not a great excuse, but it sounded good enough and the dessert was terrific.
We are including the recipe for ZinsValley’s wild mushroom bruschetta with white truffle bean puree and tawny port reduction since, according to Chef Greg, it is harder to say than it is to make!
So, next time you are driving on Highway 29 and you approach First Street, turn west and head to Browns Valley’s best kept secret, ZinsValley Restaurant, and have a fabulous, affordable, hearty meal with family and friends. Don’t forget to bring the kids!