Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Business Review November 2009.
The Cittoni family
Where Are They Now?
By Joann Busenbark
Reconnecting with people that seemed to have “retired”, or just were not where they used to be, is often exciting for us. This article addresses such a family. Many have already “found” the Cittoni family in their new adventure. In case you have not, let me tell you how to find them!
For those of us who have been in the community 40 years or more, the Depot was THE Italian eatery in the community. The Tamburelli family started it, the Cittoni family trained under them and eventually took it over. The menu and quality never changed, nor has it today. “Today”, you say, because the Cittoni family left the Depot in 2004. Ah yes. But they are back in business with the same menu and quality of food. You will find them in their kitchen at Val’s Liquor on Third Street in the same block as ABC Bakery.
Who is this family who has continued the tradition of the Tamburelli’s and provides our community great Italian food? Clemente Cittoni came to the United States in 1959 and , while he had no plans to stay in Napa, he met his bride to be, Mary, and that settled his life to make a home and family in the Napa valley. In 1960 Clemente started working for Theresa Tamburelli , her daughter, Angie Momsen and son Nick at the Depot. He learned the business and the recipes from start to finish. One of the trademark dishes invented at the Depot is malfatti; meatless pasta that resembles a small breakfast sausage. If you have not tried it you should. It is wonderful.
The Cittoni family; Mary, Clemente and children Dino, Joanne, and Steve took over the business in 1974 from the Tamburellis’ and were there thru 2004. The Cittoni children grew up with the restaurant, married, and have children who are still a part of our community. I remember someone telling me about the Depot restaurant years ago; that you could take your own containers to the back door and have take- out. Potlucks all over town often had a pot of malfatti on the table, picked up at the backdoor of the Depot.
Mary and Clemente have three grandsons, Joseph, Jesus, and Dino Jr. To continue the Cittitoni family tradition of serving great Italian food for 3 generations, one of Clemente’s grandson’s, Joseph, works in the kitchen and is learning the business from the ground up. Steve and Jill Rodrigues ,owners of Val’s, have welcomed the joining of the two businesses. Thanks to Steve and Jill for having the vision to bring Clemente’s to 3rd street.
The customers have known the Cittoni family for their friendly, efficient service, and high quality food for over 30 years . Among the Italian community they are known as a lively hard working family that welcomed the neighborhood kids, had a pot of sauce on the stove and loved to share. A former resident of the Napa Valley who recently visited has fond memories of the Cittoni family and their “salt of the earth” family warmth. They were thrilled to find them preparing their wonderful Italian recipes again. What the Tamburelli/Cittoni families have given to the Napa Valley over these 3 generations is the continuing light from the burning candle that started the Valley small town attitude of friendliness. Yes, we are a tourist destination site with many upscale amenities for our visitors but, first, we are an extended family who is concerned for our own.
Stop by Val’s and say hello to the Cittoni family. If you like Italian food, bring your own container and they will fill it up for you. PS – they also have containers you can purchase.
Thank you Clemente and family for helping to keep the Napa flame of warmth and friendliness burning for 3 generations and making a lasting contribution to availability of good Italian cuisine. Hail malfatti!!!