Welcome to EAT THIS CITY, your tour of the best restaurants in one of our favorite cities, as chosen by a world-class chef, celebrity, or local hero.
This week, we’re touring the beautiful Napa Valley, famed for its gorgeous wineries and incredible restaurants. The valley is so dense and rich in food culture, you could spend a week there and hardly begin to sample all of the culinary delights that it has to offer. Where to begin? That may pose Napa Valley novitiates with a bit of a pickle. Thankfully, we have an expert at the helm.
Meet Chef Chris Kollar, of Kollar Chocolates. Before opening his own artisan chocolate shop, this self-taught chocolatier traveled and worked in kitchens across the country, including Domaine Chandon, valley favorite Tra Vigne, and Peter Michael Winery, where he served as Executive Chef and truly honed his passion for chocolate.
At Kollar Chocolates, guests can look forward to tasting small batch, handmade confections, utilizing seasonal ingredients. While these truffles, barks, and rochers are produced in the traditional European style, Chef Kollar’s playfulness and creativity shine through. Truffles are glossy and beautifully colored, as if sprinkled by stardust. Pate de fruit, chocolate ganache, and crystallized ginger combine to create trompe l’oeil sushi. Valrhona maracas shaped like owls break open to reveal crispy, caramel pearls.
Browsing the shop’s artful, beautifully crafted treats, it’s no wonder that Kollar Chocolates was selected as one of the Top 10 Chocolatiers of North America by Dessert Professional Magazine.
We’ve started with dessert first; now let’s check out Chef Kollar’s favorite food experiences in the Napa Valley!
This chef owned and operated establishment has delicious wood-fired pizza and also serves as an excellent drinking hole. Don’t forget to check out the chicken wings and whiskey.
This place is an absolute hit because not only is it family owned and operated, but essentially allows you to step into a real Mexican market.
Morimoto is the classic spot for excellent sushi and sake in wine country. It’s always worth the price.
Owned and operated by the Clif Family, this delicious food truck makes some amazing bites from their own farm.
Of course, Kollar Chocolates is my first spot! I also love Bouchon Bakery. It’s a classic spot in Yountville from Thomas Keller.
When looking for fine dining options, it’s tough to go wrong. Bottega is definitely my favorite. It’s delicious, of course, but also has the warmth of a neighborhood spot.
Ciccio is another delicious family owned and operate spot in Napa Valley that features classic, old school Italian options. You really can’t go wrong if you’re looking for delicious, casual dining.
Not truly in wine country, but the best spot close by is Pho #1. The spot is chef owned and he just makes the stuff right! It’s delicious every time.
This spot is perfect for brunch. Greasy, heavy spoon food. It’s just awesome.
ICONIC FOOD OF THE CITY
The most iconic food in Napa isn’t food at all – it’s the wine! Cade Vineyards is way up in the hills with amazing views and wine.
ODD CULINARY EXPERIENCE
One place you have to visit in Napa Valley is Raymond Vineyards. Their ‘Red Room’ is by appointment only and is a completely velvet lined room, lit by Baccarat chandeliers. You have to see it to believe it!
Frozen pizza is absolutely my favorite guilty pleasure. Heat it up and top with avocado and chilies – nothing beats it.
The fried chicken sandwich at Norman Rose is perfect for any hangover. Greasy and meaty – the perfect combination.
They have a killer Manhattan and the food is solid. We love the Hamachi Poppers, chicken & cocktails. It’s always good.
RESTAURANT RUN BY A FRIEND
Azzurro Pizzeria is owned by my friend of over a decade, Michael Gyetvan. We’ve bonded over both cycling and food! He also owns another favorite spot, Norman Rose.
Thank you Chef Kollar, for taking us on a culinary tour of the Napa Valley!
Stay tuned for more EAT THIS CITY — where each week we’ll feature a premier chef in a different city sharing their insider eating tips! Missed a week? Check out Asheville, Charleston, Columbus, Kailua-Kona, Monterey, San Antonio, Louisville, Nashville, Raleigh, San Diego, Cambridge, Hoboken, Hollywood, Return to Miami, Return to Las Vegas, Manhattan, Oakland, Paris, Portland, Tampa, Durham, Toronto, Baltimore, Monterey, Vail, Lexington, Bentonville, San Antonio, Warsaw, Kansas City, NYC, Washington DC, New Orleans, Cleveland, Miami, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Sydney, Portland, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Providence, Memphis, Orange County, Boston, and Detroit.
See you next week!