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High-profile Napa Valley restaurants lauded, others scorned

by TrevR on August 11, 2010

A pair of articles published by independent local papers over the past several days paint an interesting story regarding the dining scene here in the Napa Valley.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat detailed several of the new and up-and-coming downtown Napa eateries, meanwhile the Napa Valley Register shared the news that no fewer than 17 local restaurants failed health inspections during the past 12 months.

Cheers and Jeers: Morimoto Napa continues to get rave early reviews, while Firewood Cafe and others are called out for failed health inspections

Morimoto Napa, Fish Story, Graham’s Takeaway and others lauded
The Press Democrat focused its article on the emerging dining scene in downtown Napa, which was most recently bolstered by the opening of Morimoto Napa (previous coverage here and here).

The article noted that newcomers such as C Casa (previous coverage), and Bistro Sabor (previous coverage) have shown early promise. Here’s an excerpt from the Morimoto write-up:

Morimoto, unlike other Food Network personalities, however, has the actual cooking skills to draw serious eaters, rather than just celebrity-gawkers. You’re here for two things: seafood (especially sushi and sashimi) and the Wagyu beef. Morimoto is a notorious stickler about his fish, usually flying in exceptional seafood from Japan. Wagyu is a highly marbled, incredibly tasty kind of beef. It’s the breed of cattle used for kobe beef, but typically from America and therefore not allowed to be called Kobe, which only comes from Japan.

Check out the full article.

Bistro Don Giovanni, Cantinetta Piero, Firewood Cafe and others scorned
The Register article is an interesting one. Buried over half-way down is the fact that approximately 97% of Napa Valley restaurants scored A or B grades from health inspectors–a number that is actually “…up from the approximately 90 percent in 2005 when the county first started posting inspection reports online.” Not too shabby.

However, the bulk of the article focuses on several of the big name restaurants who reportedly failed at least one health inspection in the past year. Here’s an excerpt:

Restaurants can lose points for all kinds of demerits, but basic cleanliness and food temperatures are the most common pitfalls for local restaurants, officials said.

“The biggest thing we look for and the biggest problems that we see are proper sanitation,” Lederer said, “meaning proper hand washing, that the food surfaces are clean and that food is stored in a clean area.”

“The next area that we tend to have a lot of problems with and that we tend to look at very carefully are food temperatures,” he said.

Forty-one is the magic number when it comes to food safety. Food should be stored lower than 41 degrees Fahrenheit or higher than 135 F in order to ensure that the food is safe and the restaurant passes its inspection.

“If we find potentially hazardous foods stored outside those temperature ranges, that’s a big no-no,” Lederer said, “and it’s something we do see on a regular basis.”

“The third area,” he said, “is the physical facility. Are the refrigerators working? … Is the paint chipping? Is there a leak?”

Read the full story.

[techtags: Napa, Napa Valley, wine, winery, Morimoto Napa, Bistro Sabor, C Casa]

About the Author

has written 716 posts on The Cork Board. He was born and aged in the Napa Valley and has a passion for wine, writing and social media, which led him to co-found this blog in early 2007. Follow him on Twitter @TrevR.

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