Il Posto Trattoria – … a place to celebrate family, friends and life
We asked Richard and Susan Walton to join us for what we knew would be a delightful dinner at Il Posto. We have known and admired Justin Graffigna for years, and watched as his career in Napa evolved. We kept hearing more and more folks talking about how amazing the food is at Il Posto, so we decided to see for ourselves if Justin had realized his dream of opening up his own restaurant. Without a doubt, we believe that Justin has succeeded!
Il Posto is homey and was full of people we often see in town. This is definitely a “hometown boy makes good” place to hang out, with terrific Italian food. There were lots of families that night, which says that this is a great place to take your kids and Grandma. Converting a paint store into a restaurant is not an easy task, but Justin Graffigna and his long-time friend, Arik Housley, have done it well. The restaurant is easy to find. It’s, just off Highway 29, at the corner of Wine Country Ave. and Solano Ave., next to Osprey Seafood, about a mile north of the Marriott Hotel. The decor is very Italian and the service is friendly and fast. Il Posto has nightly specials, such as Italian sausage with peppers and onions; chicken marsala; lasagna with spinach and papa sauce; veal osso buco; crab cioppino; oven-roasted porchetta and, on Sunday, you can enjoy the 3 course, “Chef’s Supper.” Il Posto also has a great kids’ menu, with all meals priced at $8, and wonderful side dishes, such as garlic bread; cranberry bean ragu; broccoli di cecco; sauteed zucchini; and pan roasted polenta, to name a few.
The pizzas looked great, but we decided to try almost everything on the menu other than the pizza. Jennifer was our server. She was lots of fun and very informative. Michael, the Assistant Manager, made sure that we were having a good time because that evening, Justin was enjoying a night of camping with his kids. If you are a local, you will recognize Justin from his stints at Fume, Don Giovanni and Celadon, to name just a few places where he has honed his skills.
Il Posto has a small, but interesting, wine list of Napa Valley wines and a few interesting ones from Italy, Argentina and Lodi. If you really want to go Italian, you can order a glass of Spumante from Italy for $8.50 or a bottle for $32. Our friend, Richard, brought a great bottle of Richard Williams Cabernet (RW)2 that we loved. Richard is a gourmet cook and a member of a group of guys who have met monthly to cook together for years So, he was excited to try Justin and Arik’s food.
We started our evening by sharing the crispy calamari, with lemon romesco sauce ($10). Our favorite calamari is what Greg Cole serves at Celadon. Il Posto’s calamari comes in a close second. I am sure that is because Justin wants to let Greg keep that honor! The chef sent us some remarkable, fresh-herb arancini, lightly breaded risotto balls, with fontina and marinara sauce ($8), which disappeared in seconds. Then, we shared some terrific grilled bruschetta with toy box tomatoes, house-made herb ricotta and basil and saba ($8), followed by zucca- summer squash, olive oil croutons, watercress, burrata, and tomato water vinaigrette salad ($11).
Finding room on our table for all the shared dishes wasn’t easy, but Jennifer figured out how to keep things going for us so that there was no delay in the next remarkable dish. Remember, this is an Italian restaurant and we were only JUST at the beginning antipasti and salads!
We chatted with some friends sitting at a table next to us who told us to be sure to try to the gnocchi. So, when we made our shared decisions for dinner, the first thing that we ordered was the sauteed ricotta gnocchi with fresh herbs and the family-secret papa sauce ($18), which was fabulous! We also shared the tortellini ala carbonara, with bacon marmalade filling and black pepper ($18). According to Richard, this was the best tortellini ala carbonara he had ever had. That’s a great recommendation from a guy who really knows how to cook!
John wanted to try the fettuccini frutta di mare; clams, mussels, prawns, scallops cooked with basil mine pesto cream sauce and sprinkled with pine nuts ($19), which everyone tried and really liked. We were all having a hard time eating one more thing when chef sent out the orecchiette; Italian sausage, cauliflower, red cabbage, spicy calabrian chili, fontina cheese, and garnished with fried capers ($10). We took a break, and then tried the eggplant parmigiana; sautéed with spinach, marinara and green garlic puree ($17) and the pan roasted polenta with spicy Italian sausage ragu and broccoli di cecco ($18) and, finally, the chicken ala picatta, with lemon, caper, butter sauce, pepperonata ($18). All the dishes were terrific; very authentic Italian and VERY filling. If we were not writing a restaurant review, we would not be ordering all this food, but, that being said, we managed to eat almost all of it!
To top it all off, chef insisted that we try the lemon and olive oil cake with plum agrodolce and stone fruit ($8) and their panna cotta with strawberries and dark micro basil ($7). We ate every bite! We waddled out of Il Posto knowing it was going to become a family favorite. The “little Italian restaurant around the corner” that locals would find as home and lucky visitors would rave about..
Give Il Posto a try … you won’t be disappointed!
Yield: Serves 6
Approx. 24 ounces of dried orrechiette pasta
1 pound of bulk Italian sausage
1/2 head of cabbage
1 pound fontina cheese
½ ounce calabrian chilies, chopped
1 bunch chives, finely sliced
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Take cabbage and chop into fine strands.
Cook sausage and break apart into small pieces
Cut cauliflower into small florets
Grate fontina cheese
Get a large pot of boiling water
In a large sauté pan heat grapeseed oil and
add cauliflower, cauliflower and cabbage.
Meanwhile, cook orrechiette according to package instructions. When pasta is ready and al dente, add
to sauté pan, reserving a little of the pasta water.
Add chopped chilies and fontina cheese. Stir vigorously until the pasta water and cheese form an emulsified sauce, add more pasta water if needed. When sauce is formed, add chives and season. Serve warm.