Fall /Winter 2008
Coming Home in Style
Celebrity chef Michael Chiarello brings his NapaStyle to V Marketplace.
Michael Chiarello has done everything chefs today dream of: earned national praise as founding chef of St. Helena's acclaimed Tra Vigne restaurant, become a cook-on-TV darling, launched a branded line of foods and kitchenware, and followed that up with a chain of cooking lifestyle stores. In his spare time, he grows grapes for his own wine in his backyard in St. Helena. Now he's gathering all those elements together in one historic site in Yountville.
In July, Chiarello opened a NapaStyle store in V Marketplace, and this fall he opens Bottega, his new signature restaurant, right across the courtyard. Just steps away, another 19th-century brick-and-beam building will house his own winery; a vacant space could become a TV studio. The Yountville store is the sixth in his mini NapaStyle empire, but it's the first on home turf, and the first to include a café, wine tasting bar, and cooking classes. "People don't think of shopping when they come to the Napa Valley, they think of food and wine," Chiarello says while pointing to the room for curing prosciutto and salumi and to the bar where you can blend your own olive oil. The store, café, and restaurant all draw on his southern Italian roots, but there are plenty of California touches, too, including reusable tin plates instead of take-out containers for the panini bar, a system that transforms tap water into sparkling water, and prosciutto jerky to-go bags perfect for the ride back down Highway 29. A brick walkway draped in jasmine leads to the restaurant. "Bottega means workshop in Italian," he explains. "I like the idea of tinkering." He'll be tinkering with the farm-to-table concept so cherished in the valley. "Thursdays may be pork night, Tuesdays branzino (whole sea bass), when it is in season," he muses. There will be a mozzarella bar, but no pizza. With its Missoni fabrics, Frette linens, and Murano glass, Bottega is designed to be more Old World and "less California than Tra Vigne was," he says. "The older I get, the more Italian I become."