Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Restaurant Review August 2008
Flavors of Italy
By Dorothy and John Salmon
First, some Napa history trivia: The Frank Loesser hit song “Standing on the Corner Watching All the Girls Go By” was written about a girl-watching experience in the 1950’s on the corner of First and Main Streets in downtown Napa. Just about where Tuscany stands today. The 1956 musical “Most Happy Fella” was putting the corner on the map. Tuscany is one of our favorite places to dine in the summer. You can hum that tune and watch all the girls go by while you sit inside and dine in a lovely Tuscan setting with huge open doors all around you or, sit outside at one of Tuscany’s ten sidewalk tables. If you dine at Tuscany on a Thursday night from May to late July, you can incorporate your outdoor dining experience with a walk through downtown Napa’s Chef’s Market with cooking demonstrations, great music, vendors galore and lots of local color.
On this lovely Wednesday night, we were happy to dine and watch the eastern hills of Napa, as they turned a warm pink. Those hills and our quaint town in the middle of the Valley reminds us all that we live in paradise!
We picked this night to dine at Tuscany so that we could both have a great meal and listen to our friends Mary Jensen, an incredible jazz singer, and Stephanie Ozer, a masterful jazz pianist. They were entertaining a full house that grew larger when they started playing. Mary’s lovely voice and Stephanie’s piano, accompanied by Christopher Amberger’s bass made the food taste even better. Mary can sing anything and Stephanie is incredible, so if you want great entertainment at your next event, contact Mary at: http://www.myspace.com/maryjenson or Stephanie at: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=268195905
Tuscany Owner, David Leuschner, a Napa native, does a great job of making everyone feel right at home. Tuscany has three Wood Fired Ovens that are busy from opening to closing with terrific steaks cooked on Mesquite, along with interesting pizzas and house made pasta. The cuisine includes Mediterranean, Italian, Seafood, Steaks and roaster meats. Tuscany is best known for its House specialties including Braised Sonoma Duck, Rotisseried Rabbit, and Sliced Veal Roast. The restaurant opened in 1999 as downtown Napa was just beginning to spring into its new life. It’s a casual, 140-seat restaurant featuring affordable California cuisine with a Mediterranean slant. Tuscany blends modern and classic Tuscan elements, utilizing the sun-drenched patina of the hillsides, the earthiness of Tuscan stone and tile, and plenty of warm, weathered wood beams. Tuscany offers an extensive selection of Napa Valley and Italian wines and serves wonderful desserts and dessert wines. If eating at Tuscany in a beautiful setting is not enough to get you out of the house, they also do take out. If you call them and place your order at 258-1000, just show up 30 minutes later and pick up dinner on your way home from work, or take it with you for an impromptu picnic.
Before dinner, we enjoyed a bottle of Rombauer Zinfandel. We knew it would be terrific because our son Rob makes it! We sipped the Zinfandel while nibbling on Tuscany’s famous Pane E Formaggio, their wood oven baked herb flatbread served with roasted garlic and cambozola cheese. It works as long as you are eating it with someone who is ALSO eating the roasted garlic. For an appetizer, Dorothy ordered the Ravioli Di Zucca, a butternut squash ravioli finished with pecorino cheese and a sage brown butter sauce that is to die for. For the main course, she ordered the Pollo Al Forte; the free-range chicken breast served with spaghetti pasta, mushrooms, red bell peppers, tomatoes, green olives and an orange cream sauce that was excellent. John had his usual Insalata Di Cesare with romaine, homemade croutons and Parmigiano cheese and their special anchovy dressing. For dinner he had his favorite, Penne Alla Bolognese; Penne Pasta served with a classic meat sauce of ground top sirloin and veal, finished with shaved Asiago cheese. We split the amazing Chocolate Brownie for dessert which is served warm with caramel and chocolate sauces and vanilla ice cream.
This was an evening filled with great food and wonderful music, surrounded by old and new friends. We recommend Tuscany to anyone who wants to spend a romantic evening in downtown Napa, watching all of those “Girls Walking by…”