Napa Valley Life Magazine - Summer 2020 Edition

Page 84

NVL food

NAPA VALLEY BISTRO Honest Food, Good Wine and Lots of Locals  BY MARIA C. HUNT


hef Bernardo Ayala said he’s full of gratitude for all the regular diners who have let him cook seasonal dishes like blue corn-crusted halibut in sweet corn lemongrass sauce and lamb meatballs with tomato marmalade for them. Even though he’s approaching a decade in business, the bistro that serves California fare with authentic Mexican touches is still a discovery, even for Napa natives. “It’s a beautiful place, so a lot of people say Napa Valley Bistro is a hidden gem,” said Ayala. “It’s a locals’ spot where you feel the vibe of Napa.” There’s no shortage of exceptional places to dine in the Napa Valley. But Ayala said his passion for creating dishes that delight all the senses–whether for a catered event or in-house–makes his menu stand out. So does his team. “I’m very thankful for all my coworkers that are part of the Napa Valley Bistro family,” he said. “Along with sous chef, Leandro Estevez, who is my right hand in the kitchen, our front house manager, Clay Brandl takes great pride in keeping our wine list updated to complement our menu choices, and our assistant manager/bar manager, Vanessa Aguiniga, 82


“It’s a locals’ spot where you feel the vibe of Napa.” takes the lead to create an interesting and imaginative seasonal cocktail list.” Napa Valley Bistro’s versatile menu offers everything from a daily ceviche and empanadas stuffed with achiote-seasoned Mary’s Chicken to Niman Ranch St. Louis style pork ribs and macaroni and cheese with Vella Dry Jack and applewood bacon. The wine list includes an impressive selection of local vintner labels and regional microbrews. Desserts range from warm gluten-free Scharffenberger chocolate cake to homemade Mexican chocolate ice cream that’s beautifully paired with 10-year-old tawny Port. Ayala grew up in a farming community in Michoacan, Mexico, and emigrated to the United States in the mid-1980s. He built a formidable resume’ in some of Napa’s best kitchens, such as Domaine Chandon, Silverado Resort, and Silverado Brewing

Company, where he spent 11 years as executive chef. He converted that kitchen to green practices. Sustainability informs the way he and partner Ernesto Martinez, who is also the owner/manager of Market in St. Helena, run Napa Valley Bistro. They only serve sustainable, seasonal fish, and they grow much of the produce. It’s honest food at a good price and great value. Napa Valley Bistro demonstrates this with their weekly specials, including bottomless Mimosas for Sunday brunch, and weekday happy hours featuring beerbattered sea bass fish tacos, Cajun prawns, buffalo wings and house-made empanadas, plus beer, wine, and soju cocktails. After a challenging spring confronting the coronavirus pandemic, Chef Bernardo and his team send messages of thanks for all the support they received and hope to those who faced hardship during such a difficult time. They're looking forward to getting back to what they enjoy doing most, which is providing delicious, sustainable food to the Napa Valley community. FOR MORE INFORMATION: // 707-666-2383

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