Written by and photos by Nadia Ibanez
I’m a huge proponent of the old saying, “Work Hard, Play Hard.” I’ll put in some serious hours on a project to turn it in early and then leave town for a day or so to restore some mental health. And what better of a place to do this than San Francisco and the Bay Area. I work for a company that places high regard on work/life balance, so this means I can take some time off once I finish projects. After wrapping up a massive job, I decided to spend a night in Napa to clear my head, get some rest and indulge in some wine and food.
I was lucky enough to line up my trip with a press dinner at Ca’Momi in downtown Napa. If my conscious and belly allowed me, I could eat pasta and pizza everyday. So when I do actually let myself have Italian food, lord knows I’m doubling down and going all out.
A small group of local writers and I met upstairs at this beautiful restaurant to explore Ca’Momi’s wines, pastas, pizzas, entrees and desserts. The restaurant calls themselves obsessively authentic when it comes to their dishes, inspired by several parts of Italy. The dishes are simple and ingredients are sourced from nearby farms whenever possible. Oh, and these guys are making and pulling their own mozzarella so you know you’re definitely in good hands.
We had the pleasure of dining with Master Pizzaiolo and Winemaker Dario De Conti who guided us through the menu and wines. After hearing Dario say, “I made pizza to pay my tuition; pizza is my passion,” we had some high expectations for our meal. And Ca’Momi definitely did not disappoint.
These guys take their pizza seriously and have been awarded three of the highest certifications when it comes to Italian pizza making. Each pizza is baked in a 900 degree wood burning oven for just 90 seconds and served uncut, just like they do it in Naples. (The restaurant took the liberty of slicing their pies for our dinner, but don’t expect this to happen on the reg.)
We tried a little bit of everything on the menu. The pizzas were perfectly chewy and seasoned; the mushroom tagliatelle was earthy yet rich; the tripe and tomato stew was one of the best I’ve had; and the rigatoni with oxtail was absolutely delicious. When you come to Ca’Momi, don’t expect the usual suspects like a fettuccine Alfredo or a veal Parmesan. This menu is inspired by its roots in Italy and the absolute bounty of resources in Napa Valley. So sit down, let your adventurous taste buds do the deciding and order some vino.
Oh, and Ca’Momi is responsible for producing 10,000 cases of their own wine, which is sold in more than 40 states. Dario told us that he prefers to make wine that pair well with their food so when it doubt, ask the server what wines will work best with whatever you order.
Do not leave here without ordering dessert. Ca’Momi has some serious dessert offerings and you’ll kick yourself if you don’t let yourself indulge. We tried the Millefoglie with Zabaglione pastry cream and the Meringata alla Cioccolata; both were absolutely heavenly and weren’t overly sweet. Ca’Momi also offers pastries at their Enoteca at the Oxbow Public Market down the street so head over there if you need a caffeine and sugar pick me up.
I’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to cuisine in Napa Valley, but I can safely say that a meal at Ca’Momi is a great example of the amazing and unexpected meals you can stumble upon. For more information, visit http://camomiosteria.com.