The Best New Eats
Fresh, bright flavors beckon at these tasty Wine Country restaurants.
Alba // Art & Clarity Photography
The River Terrace Inn’s contemporary Northern Pacific–themed eatery overlooks the Napa River. Chef/owner: Executive Chef Matthew Grigg has worked at the Noble House Hotels property for more than two years, running the Terrace Café and Wine Bar that previously occupied the Alba space. Vibe: Weathered wood tables juxtapose modern paper leaf–style chandeliers, while floor-to-ceiling dining room windows and a sleek, fire pit–set patio frame waterfront views. Best Bite: A generous slab of Napa honey-drizzled salmon, cooked and served on a cedar plank, atop mushroom ragout and an artful arrangement of marble potatoes, smoked bacon, asparagus, multi-color tomatoes, and truffle cream. Star Sip: The aptly named River and Rails—a reference to the restaurant’s proximity to both the river and the Wine Train tracks—a potent quaff of Tanqueray gin, peach liqueur, and club soda. 1600 Soscol Ave., Napa, (707) 320-9000, riverterraceinn.com. Breakfast and dinner daily.
Acacia House, St. Helena
The ultra-posh Las Alcobas hotel wows with this upscale restaurant in the main house property, run by two celebrity talents. Chef/owner: Chris Cosentino and Oliver Wharton (both partners in Cockscomb of San Francisco and Jackrabbit of Portland) have teamed up again for this bold California concept. Vibe: In a nod to this 1907 Victorian inn, the 50-seat space melds vintage with modern: wing-backed banquettes and an open-hearth fireplace get dressed up with a high-top communal table and deep blue-gray plaster walls framed in tall stone baseboards. Best Bite: Cornish game hen with a decidedly local flare of roasted grapes, farm-fresh turnips, pancetta, and silky crème rouge. Star Sip: The Margarita Las Alcobas, a tribute to the original Las Alcobas hotel in Mexico City. 1915 Main Street, St. Helena, (707) 963-9004, lasalcobasnapavalley.com. Lunch and dinner daily.
The Brass Rabbit, Healdsburg
The former Bistro Ralph has been transformed into a classy supper club–inspired bistro. Chef/owner: Executive chef Shane McAnelly also runs the kitchen of neighboring Chalkboard. Vibe: Elegant and dramatic, the room features a glittery tin ceiling, domino block cutout lights, toasted oak tables, and a chef’s counter overlooking a six-foot Argentinian-style wood-burning grill with a rotisserie and plancha. Best Bite: Special nightly “blue plates” like lamb Wellington, Peking duck a l’orange, and lobster Thermidor. Star Sip: Traditional cocktails including a Vesper of Mayfair vodka and gin with Kina L’Aero d’Or and add-ins like blue cheese-stuffed olives. 109 Plaza St., Healdsburg, (707) 473-8580, thebrassrabbithealdsburg.com. Dinner nightly.
Pinoli Cucina Rustica, Guerneville
Applewood Inn introduces an intriguing new Northern Italian concept where the dishes are created—and personally served—by the cooks. Chef/owner: Christian Darcoli, owner of Pinoli Ristorante in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Vibe: Sophisticated and graceful, the dark, sexy space glows with wagon wheel–style chandeliers and a flickering fireplace. Best Bite: Sweet “Coniglio Ligure,” or rabbit braised with thyme. Star Sip: Italian wines, naturally. 13555 Highway 116, Guerneville, (707) 604-7609, applewoodinn.com. Dinner nightly.