Nestled in a corner of Westwood Village, Napa Valley Grille feels isolated from the bustling college town that surrounds it. Stepping into the cozy ambiance of this fine-dining restaurant, with its warm textures, earth-toned hues and low-key romance, makes you feel like you’ve touched the heart of wine country without even leaving town. With Chef Joseph Gillard’s focus on seasonal, local ingredients and a versatile, sophisticated approach to its impressive wine list, Napa Valley Grille marries Central Coast sensibilities with Hollywood charm.
Its rustic elegance matches its cuisine, with a welcoming wooden communal table piled high with seasonal fruits and vegetables. The high-beamed ceiling, wood paneling and colors of burnt sienna, honey and cinnamon all tie in with the restaurant’s refined interpretation of wine country’s down-to-earth chic. Crisp, white linens adorn the tables and offer a stunning contrast to the cheerful murals of vineyards that cover the walls. Cozy booths inspire intimate conversation and the fireplace in the main dining room is a centerpiece of wordless thought and imagination. A similar piece exists in the outdoor patio, where California evenings and a glass of wine are to be enjoyed and savored.
Napa Valley Grille’s wine list offers a journey of discovery; with more than 300 California varieties, thirty-five of which are available by the glass, there is scarcely a better venue for sampling the best the restaurant’s namesake region has to offer. The menu explores a full spectrum of choices, from soft luxurious whites to big voluptuous reds. The restaurant also encourages guests to expand their palates with wine flights consisting of three two-ounce samples of different wines””perfect for comparing and discussing with friends. They even offer a Sideways Tour, featuring premier Pinot Noirs.
Chef Gillard celebrates each new season with a focus on sustainability and infuses his close relationship to nature with every menu he creates. A native of Michigan, Gillard was raised on a forty-acre farm where imbibing fresh goat’s milk was a morning ritual and fresh local produce was revered. His family’s vegetable garden provided sustenance for all, with many townsfolk purchasing the Gillards’ seasonal products straight from their market stand. It is no wonder this Midwesterner works closely with local farmers to build inventive, ever-changing menus from the freshest produce available. With culinary stripes that include stints as the executive chef at Joachim Splichal‘s Patina Catering, as well as Nick and Stef’s Steakhouse and Mirabelle’s on the Sunset Strip, Gillard embodies what culinary artistry is all about, and he does so with and a Southern Californian savoir-faire that will incite cravings even for future menu creations.
Each week Gillard features an organic entrÃ©e crafted entirely of hand-selected ingredients from a local farmers’ market. He believes gathering ingredients directly from the source allows the restaurant to reflect the rich diversity of California’s agriculture. I suggest opening your meal with a carrot-ginger soup finished with a cardamom cream, and accompanied by artisinal flat bread topped with eggplant tapanade and feta and Buratta cheeses. A salad of organic baby lettuce paired with a Parmesan crisp and roasted walnut vinaigrette will prepare you for a hearty entrÃ©e of Farro risotto with black kale, roasted cherry tomatoes and butternut squash. If you haven’t already accepted that fall is upon us, this risotto will seal the deal. Even if it’s not listed on the menu, guests who are in the know can order it, so consider yourself one of those guests!
A rich selection of artisinal cheeses is available, with Big Woods Blue and Tumalo Farms Pondhopper as standout favorites. Ordering a nice, robust digestif with the cheese course offers a perfect segue to desert, and the restaurant’s extensive list of wines by the glass offer ample choices. Finish the night with one of their sweet indulgences, like the nectarine shortcake topped with double cream, or warm plum crisp.
Napa Valley Grille is open for lunch and dinner, with special weekend brunch and bar menus available. If you’re unable to squeeze a leisurely supper into your schedule, they offer convenient, made-to-order meals called Napa Picnics To-Go, with a menu that includes seasonal salads, entrees, cheese platters and desserts, as well as kid-friendly options. They’re perfect for a night at the Hollywood Bowl or picnic in the park.
Infusing its seasonal cuisine, an extensive list of California wines and an ambiance with the essence of wine country, Napa Valley Grille is a delightful surprise in the heart of Los Angeles. You’ll swear you’re in Yountville.