Your Host Francesca Montillo takes you on a Delicious Adventure to Dreamy Italian Destinations with Lazy Italian Culinary Adventures
You are a big fan of “Under the Tuscan Sun” and have watched it at least two dozen times. You have drooled over the food and every time you watch it you confess that you will be planning a trip there soon, fulfilling your lifelong dream of venturing off on a culinary tour through Tuscany. But wait, that movie came out 15 years ago, and you still have not gone. The wait is over, look no further, your wish is granted.
Everything you have been looking for is right here, and you don’t have to do a thing except contact Francesca’s Lazy Italian Culinary Adventures and everything you have dreamed about for the last 15 years is right here. She has beautifully customized a variety of tours throughout the year to a variety of stunning Italian Destinations. This year she has 3 different itineraries all ready for you to book to Tuscany, Puglia or Sicily with a small adventurous group, all anxious just like you to venture off to the rolling vineyards of Italy’s stunning countryside.
Or if those dates or destinations don’t fit your schedule, she also has “Italy by Design” where she customizes your own personalized adventure. If you are not into “group travel, they offer full service and customized vacation planning, leave the time to research to the experts to customize a trip created especially for you with all of the bells and whistles. Your vacation to Italy can be accompanied by a local driver/guide on your tour around the region or follow your customized tour and venture off on your own. As they say at the Lazy Italian tours, “This is your week, after all, not ours!”
Here are the highlights of the Tuscany tour which is May 1st to May 8th.
• Four Star accommodations in a centrally located hotel
• Two Private Culinary Classes with Meals Following
• Welcome Dinner
• Private English-Speaking City Tour Led by a Licensed Guide
• Private Wine Tastings and a day trip to Chianti with Lunch at the Winery and Plenty of Wine
• Private Culinary City Tour Visiting World Famous Shops
• Private Day Trip to Pisa and Lucca
• Private Day Trip to Sienna
• Visit Mercato Centrale
• Farewell Dinner
• Leisure time on Your Own
The week in Tuscany kicks off with check-in at our four-star accommodations. Centrally located, Hotel Orto de Medici will be our home for the week, so unpack and make yourself at home. Perhaps visit their famous gardens and take in some of the Tuscan air. During the week, we will experience the scenic views of Tuscany and sample wines in the wine regions of Chianti with a memorable lunch on the winery. The week will also take us to the world-famous cities of Pisa, Lucca, and Siena for what are sure to be plenty of photo opportunities. We will also take part in two private cooking lessons and pick up a few culinary tips from our native Tuscan instructors. Our walking city tour in Florence will allow us to get to know our host city while our culinary walking tour will give us the opportunity to sample some of Tuscany’s most traditional products.
What will our Experience be like during the week and where will we go?
Arrival & Welcome Dinner
Arrive and settle in your four-star accommodations in the early afternoon. Our home for the week will be the highly regarded Hotel Orto de Medici. Unpack and make yourself at home knowing you will not need to repack until your departure. Enjoy the nearby sights of our home for the week, stretch your legs in the nearby shops or grab your first gelato.
In the evening, we will meet for our first group activity. We will enjoy a welcome dinner with our fellow travelers and get our first taste of the regional cuisine and wine that we will be enjoying throughout the week.
Day 2 – Private Cooking Class & Walking Tour
After breakfast at the hotel, we will head towards San Lorenzo Market where our cooking experience begins. Under the guidance of our chef instructor, we will select fresh and healthy ingredients needed for our cooking lesson. Following the market visit in the morning, we will proceed to the school where we will learn how to prepare typical Italian Tuscan dishes. Grab an apron and be prepared to cook up a delicious Tuscan lunch to be enjoyed by all in the group.
In the afternoon, we will walk off our lunch calories with a private city tour from our English speaking, certified city guide. Walk the streets of the Medici, Donatello, and Dante as well as the lesser known side streets of the city. We will visit major churches, such as the Santa Maria Novella and if the lines permit, enter the Duomo, among other high-profile attractions.
Spend the evening on your own at your leisure. Walk about the city, grab a gelato and people-watch the way locals do.
Day 3 – Day Trip to Chianti
After breakfast at the hotel, our private driver will pick us up, and we will make our way to Chianti where we will visit two highly praised wineries. We will visit the Southern part of Tuscany, undoubtedly the most beautiful countryside the region has to offer. Discover the wines of the area and learn the aging process. Enjoy the landscape, olive groves and of course, the many vineyards.
Lunch may include typical items such as antipasti Toscani, Ribollita, pasta with meat or mushroom sauce or lasagna.
Evening on your own to spend at your leisure.
Day 4 – Walking Foodie Tour & Cooking Lesson
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel, but be sure to leave room for our many tastings from our culinary walking tour. We will enjoy local specialties at family-owned shops and savor Florence’s “street food” of cured meats, cheeses, olive oil, baked goods, custom made breads, chocolates, and artisan gelato.
Enjoy some time on your own in the afternoon, but don’t indulge, we’re in for a treat this evening!
In the evening, we will head back to our culinary studio for our second private dinner cooking lesson. Be prepared to work for your multi-course dinner tonight as we prepare antipasti, a first and second course and of course, dinner would not be incomplete without dessert. A truly memorable dining experience is expected tonight!
Day 5 – Day Trip to Lucca & Pisa
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before heading west of Tuscany today on our day trip to Lucca and Pisa. Lucca is a most beloved city in Tuscany and all of Italy, and we will have time to walk the streets filled with shops, cafes and old-school buildings. Known as the city of 100 churches, Lucca is filled with historical architecture, and a can’t miss city while in this region. Lunch will be in a trattoria in Lucca.
Get your camera ready for what will be a memorable afternoon. After lunch, we make our way to the world-famous city of Pisa and the famous Miracle Square. Admire the Leaning Tower, Baptistery and Cathedral. Pick up a few gifts to take back, snap lots of pictures and take it all in.
We will return to Florence around 5:00PM, and you can enjoy the evening on your own.
Day 6 – Day Trip to Siena
Today we head to another major attraction and perhaps Italy’s loveliest city, Siena! Located on top of three hills, Siena can easily be called Italy’s ultimate hill town. Today, we will visit the Siena Cathedral, probably the most precious of Tuscan churches, the Campo Square, famous for the Palio, the annual historic horse-race, the Town Hall, Palazzo Salimbeni and San Domenico Church. Pedestrian friendly, as only residents and cabbies are permitted, Siena is sure to leave an impression. We can walk about the narrow streets, enjoy the adorned balconies and relax with a gelato along the way.
Day 7 – Farwell Dinner
Our time in Tuscany is sadly winding down. Today you can enjoy the day on your own to walk about the city with freedom. Visit a museum we didn’t get a chance to see, we highly recommend the Uffizi Gallery, return to a place where we’ve been that left an impression, pick up a few foodie gifts for your friends or simply enjoy Italy’s “Il Dolce Far Niente” – literally, the sweetness of doing nothing!!
A farewell dinner is planned for our last evening in Florence. Enjoy a delicious meal with wine, exchange stories, and e-mail addresses with your traveling companions and toast to our wonderful week.
Where Will You be Staying
Our home for the week will be the top rated and highly praised Hotel Orto de Medici. Located on Via San Gallo, one of the oldest streets in Florence, we will be in the city center, within a few minutes walking distance to the city’s main attractions, yet in a quiet location. Our rooms are ample in size by Italian standards at almost 200 square feet. Before we head out for the day, fuel up at their exquisite breakfast. Need something from the mini bar? No worries, we will cover it for you. Looking for some relaxing time after our excursions and day trips? Sit in their historic garden and be inspired. After all, it is in this exact location that Lorenzo De Medici met the young Michelangelo.
Some of the amenities of Orto de Medici include a large selection of breakfast options, Wi-Fi throughout, a historic terrace for relaxing, a bar to enjoy a spritz, 24hr reception, and the ideal location! Staying in this hotel is a vacation in itself.
Your Host – Francesca Montillo
Your Host and Experienced Guide for the Week is Italian Cookbook Author of The 5-Ingredient Italian Cookbook: 101 Regional Classics Made Simple, native Italian, and culinary instructor, Francesca Montillo. She will amaze you as she guides you through Italy’s most beloved region. She is fluent in Italian, well-traveled and passionate about showing her guests around her native land.
What Francesca says about her tours and your experience:
The tours are culinary and wine in theme. When I started my business, I wanted it to focus on what I know best about Italy, which is its food. My dad was a greengrocer while I was growing up in Italy, so I grew up in a foodie family. My mom always prepared delicious meals, and I believe they left an impression on me, hence my wanting to start this business.
When I travel with a group to Italy, I want them to feel like they are coming to my home, because, in a way, they are. I like to ‘show-off’ Italy in the best way that I can. It means the world to me when my clients have a wonderful time. Many have said that my trips are “once in lifetime experiences” (I certainly hope not!) and that traveling with me is not like traveling with a tour leader, but a friend. These are the best compliments I can receive.
As a native, I think travelers are reassured that I can properly lead the way, there’s a certain level of added trust in going outside the country with a native. I am fluent in Italian, but that’s not so impressive, really, but I understand the culture, the people and their mentality. I work with collaborators all over Italy and only work with natives that I have fully vetted, and whenever possible, have met in person.
On the tours, we do a mix of activities, namely, we take cooking classes with the locals, we visit honey and cheese farms, we have lunch on wineries, we visit producers of Parmigiano, balsamic vinegar, or prosciutto. We go to olive oil mills, make fresh pasta and always do a walking foodie tour, stopping at all the local shops to try some local off our calories, for sure.
What former guests are saying about their experiences Francesca’s tours!
I have just returned from a week-long cooking trip to Italy coordinated by Francesca Montillo. Francesca was responsible for our itinerary, transportation, visits to wineries, restaurants, and our accommodations, as well as providing the ingredients and tools for our cooking classes. All went smoothly and was worry free. She arranged for special requests from members of the group, such as no dairy, gluten-free, or vegetarian at the restaurants we visited with along and within the cooking classes themselves. Not only were our arrangements flawless, thanks to Francesca, but she is also very knowledgeable about Italy, Italian food and wine and is quite a good cook in her own right. She also speaks Italian fluently. She is pleasant and was always cheery, even early in the morning. I highly recommend Francesca if you want a wonderful experience of Italy’s food and wine. Jennifer Fisk
I met Francesca a few years ago and knew that when the time came to go to Italy, she would be our best contact. Being a native Italian, I trusted her to build a custom itinerary to Sardinia last year. She planned a wonderful week for myself and my husband. No stone left unturned on our trip from transportation, to beach excursions, to cooking classes and all arrangements were handled perfectly. We will be contacting her again in a few years. Melinda & John Williams.
What a wonderful trip! Everything so well planned for us and everything went off beautifully. Great congenial group and hoping to keep in touch with everyone. Thanks for all you did in the planning that went off without a hitch. There has not been a day that I haven’t thought about our wonderful trip. Thank you again for all you did. Rita Caputo, Emilia Romangna 2018
• Airfare / Flights
• Hotel incidentals such as phone calls, room service (minibar will be included!)
• Meals and wine not stated above
• Airport / Train transfers on first and last day of the tour
• Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is HIGHLY recommended in order to protect your investment.
• Hotel City Tax of 4.50 Euros per person / per night, to be paid directly to the hotel by the guest
Link to purchase Francesca’s cookbook on Amazon: http://bit.ly/5IngredientItalianCookbook
Link to our hotel in Tuscany for our May tour. This is one of the top hotels in Florence: https://www.ortodeimedici.it/it
Contact Lazy Italian Culinary Adventures at:
Check out more details on their website at:
Check out their facebook page too! https://www.facebook.com/lazyitalian/
Romance is in the Air Year ‘Round in the Napa Valley!
Valentines Day in Napa Valley is celebrated year around. Traditionally February is known as the month for romance with couples eager to celebrate their love and affections at an intimate romantic inn or hotel nestled in the backdrop of rolling vineyards and settling into chilly evenings by the fireside. No better romantic setting to celebrate love than the picturesque Napa Valley.
In Napa Valley, your romantic mini-vacation to the wine county is waiting for you every month and every day of the year. If February has passed you by, not to fret, you haven’t missed out on creating your own special weekend or weekday escape for cherishing your love. Why not celebrate with your Valentine in May or September?
Farm Restaurant at Carneros Resort & Spa
Most hotels and inns offer special “Love Packages” during Valentines, though they tend to be a bit pricier than other times of the year or difficult to book due to limited availability. You will find that romance getaway packages are offered all year around here in the Napa Valley with a variety of romantic options to choose from or even customize your own.
Love is always in the air in wine country and each season presents its own unique portrait for your perfect romantic rendezvous with your special someone. You may want to:
- Come in early spring when the new budding vines are blanketing the valley and its time for a rejuvenating spa day.
- Seek out the sun in the summertime when it is warmer to mix in some outdoor activities like golf, cycling, hiking or hot-air ballooning.
- Head to the Napa Valley in the Fall for the perfume of crush during harvest and the brilliantly changing colors of the vineyards.
- Get festive with the lighting of the Christmas Trees and Holiday Parades.
- You may just keep coming back because you have a passion for the amazing cuisine offered in the Napa Valley, which is deliciously hard to resist.
These spectacular romantic resorts and inns offer a variety of dine/stay/spa packages, however, they are all very unique in their own way, with diverse amenities, design, decor, and location. Whatever your personals tastes, lovers are presented with a variety of romantic get-a-way options from small intimate inns to mega-luxurious resorts, all in an intoxicating setting. Dip in the pool, shower under the stars, bathe in the full moon, whatever your hearts desire, it’s all waiting for you. One thing’s for sure, pampering is always on the menu.
Whatever your passion, your ultimate date night or lovers retreat, Napa Valley welcomes you with a big heart!
Auberge du Soleil
Auberge Bar Terrace
“The Inn of the Sun” one of Napa Valley’s most iconic luxury properties is nestled on a hillside perch in Rutherford painted with breathtaking panoramic views of rolling vineyards. Dining at Auberge du Soleil’s Michelin Star Restaurant is a must experience to indulge in the signature cuisine along with the beauty of the valley views offered from their decks.
Auberge du Soleil is a long-standing member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux, the international association of outstanding boutique properties known for their excellence in hospitality and culinary arts. This Adults-Only resort is the only Forbes Five-Star Rated hotel in Napa Valley. Auberge’s guest accommodations offer 5 amazing room variations from king view rooms to private maisons. Romantic packages are always available and in addition, they also offer spa packages at their award-winning spa. There are seasonal culinary, wine and music events. Auberge maintains a commitment to sustainable practices and native landscapes.
180 Rutherford Hill Road, Saint Helena www.aubergedusoleil.com
During the month of February, Bardessono offers romantics the opportunity to rediscover the pleasure of giving and receiving with their “Crush on You” package. You will indulge in an hour-long massage topped off with bubbles in a champagne bath. After unparalleled pampering, pop open a Sommelier selected wine with a decadent dessert, prepared by Bardessono’s Michelin Pastry Chef Mindy relaxing in your stunning guest room. What a more perfect way to start off your weekend of romance. This luxurious eco-friendly “Deep Green” Inn in the heart of Yountville in the midst of its own vineyard offers privacy and graciousness. The 62 guestrooms serve as a personal sanctuary also offering in-room spa treatments.
For the truly romantic get-a-way any time of year, Bardessono has created a unique selection of Romance Packages that will create memories to last forever. For adventurous couples, take in the best views Napa Valley has to offer aloft your majestic balloon ride and breakfast for two.
Shop, dine, and wine taste – all within walking distance in this charming eco- friendly inn nestled in the hamlet of Yountville.
6526 Yountville Street, Yountville www.bardessono.com
Nestled in a hidden canyon on 157 acres of lush foliage, ancient oaks, and majestic hills are the eco-luxury resort of Calistoga Ranch. Their freestanding wood cedar shingled luxury lodges are perfect for those desirous of dreaming in unspoiled nature. This 50-room luxury retreat in the hills of Napa Valley captures the rich culture of food, wine, and nature. Calistoga Ranch is part of the Auberge Resorts Collection and true to Auberge tradition; the Ranch offers culinary experiences inspired by culture. With their “Rekindle the Romance” package you will indulge in two memorable nights in a one-bedroom lodge, two intimate 60-minute in-lodge spa treatments, daily breakfast and a romantic candlelight dinner for two. There are also acres of scenic hiking trails and an on-site vineyard with a private wine label. You will also find sustainable practices throughout the resort.
580 Lommel Road, Calistoga www.calistogaranch.aubergeresorts.com
Carneros Resort and Spa
Carneros Resort Cottage
Carneros Resort and Spa is a luxury romantic escape nestled in the Carneros vineyards on 28 lush acres. The resort offers 86 cottages, 10 suites, and private homes in this country setting. These charming cottages offer many wonderful amenities such as fireplaces, indoor-outdoor showers, private hot tubs, and landscaped garden patios. This wine country retreat also presents FARM, their signature restaurant with elegant wine country dining. Spend a day relaxing at the Spa at Carneros with treatments to mend the mind and spirit.
Sample Love is in the Air Package – Contact Resort for the latest packages!
- One night stay in the cottage accommodation of your choice
- Complimentary breakfast in bed
- Welcome bottle of sparkling wine
- $100 Spa Credit towards a couple’s massage
Carneros Resort Outdoor Shower
Carneros Resort has recently premiered their specialty-dining event at Farm Restaurant, the Carneros Supper Club. Guests will join in at a welcome reception on the hilltop patio along with Sparkling wine and a raw bar of fresh from the sea tastes. Chef Aaron Meneghelli will partner with local winemakers and breweries in the region to create an evening of indulgent family style dining in an intimately elegant setting.
4048 Sonoma Hwy. Napa www.thecarnerosinn.com
Harvest Inn by Charlie Palmer
You can celebrate romance in the wine country in one of Harvest Inn’s intimate and luxurious guests rooms where you will experience an unforgettable vacation of the heart in beautiful St. Helena. Sip a glass of Napa Valley sparking on your picturesque terrace overlooking the lush grounds. Indulge in a couples massage with a sensual blend of botanical essences that will surely rejuvenate the mind, body, and spirit. Dine at Charlie Palmer’s wine country kitchen, the Harvest Table highlighting dishes created from a delicious array of locally sourced ingredients and the best of Napa Valley.
1 Main Street, Saint Helena www.harvestinn.com
A new Luxury Collection Hotel in the Napa Valley located next to world famous Beringer Vineyards and Estate. The Hotel offers spacious accommodations with ultra-chic décor. In addition to the 68 guest rooms overlooking vineyards and or the winery, Las Alcobas offers a state of the art 3500sf spa, The Atrio, and wellness center, onsite restaurant and event barn. It is the perfect setting for couples seeking a romantic escape. Chef Chris Cosentino’s signature restaurant, the Acacia House, offers the perfect setting for romance. They will even prepare a gourmet lunch basket for your picnic in the vineyards. The resort’s vineyard view pool and cabanas and adjacent Grandview Bar have a tranquil vineyard setting.
1915 Main Street, Saint Helena www.lasalcobasnapavalley.com
Meritage Resort and Spa
When planning your romantic get-a-way to Napa, why not change it up a bit. In addition to your romantic escape, where you will stay two nights in one their Premier Tuscan inspired luxury hotel rooms with a unique private balcony overlooking the pool, Estate Cave, and vineyards why not join in on one of their Master Winemaker Dinners. These exquisite dinners in the Estate Cave offer dinner guests and guests of the resort and unforgettable evening of food and wine. Each dinner begins with a reception featuring wine and appetizers overlooking the estate vineyards then follows a multi-course dinner with featured wines from the guest winemaker. Each event is a little different, and all will delight in this remarkable dining experience. Topping the off the evening with a splash, is the “wow factor” dessert, an unforgettable interactive presentation. The 2017 Masters Winemaker Dinner Series lineup includes Napa Valley’s Top Wineries and Cult Favorites!
875 Bordeaux Way, Napa www.meritagecollection.com
Milliken Creek Inn and Spa
Milliken Creek Inn
This charming inn on 3 secluded acres just off of Silverado Trail in Napa is rich in history and dates back to the mid-1850s when it served as a stagecoach stop for tired travelers during the Gold Rush in California. Now part of the prestigious Fours Sisters Inns luxury collection, Milliken Creek presents an intimate hideaway along the banks of the Napa Valley River. After spending a quiet, romantic evening by the fire in one of their 12-luxury spa guest rooms with plush king beds, you will wake up to delicious made-to-order breakfast brought to your room to enjoy in your room on, on your patio or deck or anywhere you would like on the beautiful grounds of this charming inn. You won’t want to miss enjoying a body treatment at their boutique spa on the property with a couples massage. Or indulge in the ultimately delicious pamper with the “wrap yourself in chocolate decadence” – a tasty treatment designed to detoxify the body and leave your skin kissably soft, after being wrapped in a cocoon of chocolate and mud and chocolate massage oil treatment. Oh so decadent!
1815 Silverado Trail, Napa www.Millikencreekinn.com
Silverado Resort and Spa
For the perfect hole in one, Silverado Resort is a golfers paradise with two 18-hole Championship Courses, a variety of fine dining options and a state of the art spa facility. For the “Golf Lover” this is the place to T-off to for an active romantic get-a-way of Dining, Spa Treatments, and Golf. The “Couples Escape” package offers a round of golf per night stay, 1 spa treatment per night stay and $50 food credit at any of the resorts food venues. Silverado is also located close to many renowned wineries to visit during your active stay in Napa, so you won’t have to miss out tasting some of your favorite vintages.
1600 Atlas Peak Road, Napa www.silveradoresort.com
An Auberge Resort Collection Property located in Calistoga just off the Silverado Trail offers modern thoroughly appointed accommodations which all come with two complimentary cruiser bikes to explore. The Solage award-winning spa and mineral pool has been artfully designed and is ecologically conscious giving you the ultimate of a spa-get-away sprinkled with romance. Their distinguished renowned restaurant, the Solbar, offers an intimate dining experience and delivers new twists on California soul food recipes. They offer romantic retreats to active get-a-ways that will immerse you and your love and enhance your Napa Valley experience. Check out their Sugar and Spice package for a sultry two-night escape, which includes a massage and an intimacy kit. Along with that, you will partake in the Sol Spa’s most intimate treatment, the Couples Mudslide where you will paint your partner with mineral-enriched mud, then soak side-by-side in healing geothermal mineral waters.
755 Silverado Trail, Calistoga www.solage.aubergeresorts.com
Westin Verasa Napa
This exquisite hotel is perfectly located along the Napa River within walking distance of Oxbow, the Culinary Institute and historic eclectic downtown Napa. The Westin Verasa is part of the SPG group of hotels where not only will you make brownie points with the love of your life you will also build points towards future stays.
After a long day of wine tasting around the valley, the courtyard pool by the river presents the perfect place to chill with a refreshing beverage.
For the ultimate romantic evening, dining in the intimate Michelin Star restaurant, La Toque, named one of the “Best Restaurants In America” by Wine Spectator, is a glorious treat. Acclaimed Chef Ken Frank has created a menu of contemporary French-style cuisine with a cutting edge. An absolute must when in Napa Valley!
1314 McKinstry Street, Napa www.westinnapa.com
Photo Courtesy of Visit Calistoga – Downtown Calistoga’s Historic Lincoln Avenue
It’s natural to think of the Napa Valley as one ‘place.’ But the 30 north to south miles that comprise this verdant valley feature distinct towns, each with individual personalities. There’s Yountville with its chic tasting rooms and Michelin-starred cuisine, Rutherford with its concentration of Cabernet producers, and St. Helena with its quaint downtown shopping district. And to the north, Calistoga encourages its guests to slow down a bit and unwind. The small town’s official motto is ‘Relax, you’re in Calistoga,’ a directive easily followed, thanks to its famous mud baths, gracious inns and resorts, and variety of restaurants that promote a laidback vibe.
During the late 1700’s, the sole inhabitants of the area of Calistoga were populated by a large group of indigenous people called the Wappo Tribe during the Spanish colonial era. They were part of the now extinct Yukian language group who were the earlier settlers of this region. The Napa Valley name was actually derived from the word Napa meaning “plenty” in their native language.
California’s first Millionaire, Sam Brannan purchased 2000 acres in the Calistoga area in 1885 with plans to create a spa resort for the rich and famous, similar to the health and hot spring inspired retreats in Saratoga Springs, New York.
The main street in Calistoga premiered Brannan’s Hot Spring Resort which opened in 1862 and is now the current location of the Indian Springs Resort along Lincoln Avenue. In 1876 the Magnolia Hotel building burnt down and was later rebuilt as the Calistoga Hotel in 1902. In 1907, the Europa Hotel was built and then sold to Johnny Ghisolfo in 1912 which later became the Mount View Hotel. The Lincoln Avenue boom was followed by the opening of the Calistoga Inn, constructed originally in 1920 about the time when Lincoln Avenue was first paved, and more power lines were added to illuminate the bustling downtown. Brannan’s inspiration paved of the way for the growth of Calistoga to its popularity and charm today.
Many of the original buildings along historic Lincoln Avenue are now home to many of these popular downtown eateries along Calistoga’s food row.
All Season Restaurant
For the past 35 years, this favorite up valley restaurant has been offering creative seasonal dishes to their new and dedicated patrons both local and visitor alike. This charming bistro serves inspired food and wine, classic to contemporary. Their relaxed atmosphere, excellent service, and outstanding cuisine have made this iconic restaurant a mainstay to dine along Lincoln Avenue. Must try menu items: Ahi Tuna Carpaccio, Mary’s Organic Chicken Breast, Angus Rib Eye Steak, Seared Duck Breast.
Butternut Squash Soup
1400 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga www.allseasonsnapavalley.com 707-942-9111 Open for lunch and dinner daily except Tuesdays.
Calistoga’s longest running restaurant for 36 years, continues to serve quality made fresh daily authentic Italian Cuisine offering house-made Pasta and wood-fired pizzas. Step into the old country of Italy with cuisine that brings you home-style Italian foods along with a generous selection of moderately priced California and Italian wines. Their sumptuous pastas are made from scratch daily offering you a wide variety to choose from. They also offer Antipasti, soups, and salads. Don’t miss out on their happy hour every day from 4:40 to 6:30 where all wines listed are $8 and all appetizers are half off.
1364 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga www.boskos.com 707-942-9088 Open 11:30am to 9:30pm
Busters Original Southern BBQ
Busters, showcased in National Geographic, has been referred to as the “Best BBQ West of the Mississippi” and voted “Best Barbeque” by the Bohemian year after year. Busters patio is the perfect stop for authentic Southern BBQ dishes with recipes from the heart of Louisiana with pork ribs, beef ribs, pulled pork, tri-tip, BBQ chicken, savory baked beans and corn of the cob. Be sure to stop in for great jazz and blues on Sunday afternoons,
1207 Foothill Blvd., Calistoga www.busterssouthernbbq.com 707-942-6505 Dine in or take out. Open for Lunch or dinner 7 days a week.
The name of this restaurant was named after California’s first Millionaire Sam Brannan who claimed he was going to make the town the Calistoga of Sarafornia when he meant to say the Saratoga of California, hence the name of the town and the name of the diner. The owners, the Dierkhising family, have been in Napa Valley since 1976 and have owned the restaurant for nearly that long. This is a wonderful place for breakfast to start your day, offering dishes like their famed braised pork tostada, the Brannan Benedict, and the best in the valley – Huevos Rancheros. Lunch is impressive as well with classic burgers, sandwiches, and salads. Their popularity it tremendous, they serve over 91,000 people per year, that’s 250 per day. The line is worth the wait!
1413 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga www.cafesarafornia.com 707-942-0555 Open Daily from 7am – 2:30pm
Calistoga Inn, Restaurant and Brewery
Calistoga Inn Restaurant & Brewery
It’s a brewery, hotel, and restaurant on this stately historic property in the middle of downtown Calistoga. The restaurant has been one of the most popular outdoor dining venues in the Napa Valley with its patio stretching along the Napa River, and in the adjacent historic water tower, you will find their award winning micro-brewery, The Napa Valley Brewing company. It has become a popular place for sports enthusiasts as it boasts 5 large flat screen TV’s making it also the sports bar to hang out at in Calistoga during big sporting events. The weekend Brunch on their spacious patio is a must. Two lunch favorites are the Shrimp Louie Salad, the Heirloom Tomato, and Fig Salad and their Best Burger. Dinner highlights are the Country Paella or choose from one of their prime cut steaks.
Calistoga Inn Patio
1250 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga www.calistogainn.com 707-942-4101 Open 11:30am to 9:30pm
This simple, understated café has been serving Italian classics and pizzas to Calistogan’s for several decades as an unpretentious neighborhood meeting place for a quick lunch, family dinner or a festive happy hour. The cuisine is Mediterranean inspired which includes a variety of pastas, pizzas, calzones as well as Chicken Marsala, Pan Seared Salmon and Braised Lamb Shank on their extensive menu. Don’t miss the House-Made Cheesecake with Chocolate Sauce for dessert.
1414 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga 707-942-9300 11:30am to 9:30pm
Evangeline Patio Dining
This now locally owned French Bistro with Creole Soul invites you to join them for dinner at Evangeline. This popular eatery in Calistoga offers you fun versions of French bistro favorites such as Coq au Vin, Croque Madame Beef Tartare and Shrimp Etouffee. Their intimate polished interior and inviting patio dining on their charming covered terrace delivers a memorable dining experience. This Solbar spinoff offers an impressive menu of New Orleans style dishes to the table along with inventive cocktails, craft beers, and an extensive wine list. They are primarily an outdoor restaurant with limited indoor seating. Reservations are not available for inside seating.
1226 Washington Street, Calistoga www.evangelinenapa.com 707-341-3131 Dinner Daily from 5:30pm to 10pm Brunch on Saturday and Sunday 9am – 2pm
Hydro Bar and Grill
Hydro Bar & Grill
Located in downtown Calistoga, the restaurant’s building dates back to 1906, just after the 1901 fire which destroyed most of the original town of Calistoga. This historic building, originally a carriage house and stable, has been home to Hydro at this location since 1996. Their sister business, All Season’s Bistro has been a Calistoga favorite since 1983. Alex and Gayle and their two dining establishments have been serving quality food, inspired drinks, and great local hospitality for almost 40 years. It is the spot as they often refer to pop in grab a bite, share a drink and have a little HYDROTHERAPY!
Hydro Bar and Grill
1403 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga www.hydrogrillnapavalley.com 707-942-9777 8:30am – 11pm Open Every day except Thursday morning until noon for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Chef James of Johnny’s
Johnny’s in Calistoga
Johnny’s Restaurant & Bar
Johnny’s initially opened in the Mount View Hotel in 1933 by Johnny Ghisolfo who served on the Calistoga city council and later became known as “Mr. Calistoga.” The original Johnny’s closed in 1984 and then in 2016 reopened in honor of former owner John Ghisolfo. This resurrected pub and bistro offers the perfect place to enjoy good times with friends and family whether it be breakfast, lunch, dinner or happy hour (which they claim to be one of the best in town.) Their house Mud City Brews are worth stopping in for a bit of Cheers.
For breakfast try the Huevos Montelenos, for Lunch the local Fish and Chips and for Dinner Oysters on the half shell and the Jagerschnitzel. Sunday special is always a hit with their Slow Roasted Prime Rib.
Johnny’s Egg Benedict
Johnny’s Cobb Salad
1457 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga www.johnnyscalistoga.com 707-942-5938 Brunch Daily 7:30a to 2pm; Dinner opens up at 4pm; Happy Hour 4pm to 6:30pm
Sam’s Social Club at Indian Springs
Sam’s Social Club
Sam’s named after famed resort founder Sam Brannan at the Indian Springs Resort offers a vibrant and inviting atmosphere. This new American Eatery & Bar is the place to meet for food that is seasonal, creative and thoughtfully prepared. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails at their stylish bar a spacious dining areas with both inside and outdoor seating. Sam’s has become a significant hangout in Calistoga offering innovative, delicious menus that are reasonably priced. Their unpretentious vibe extends to the plates such as grilled octopus endowed with a peppy Romesco sauce or a pan-seared duck. Their burgers on the homemade buns are a must try. Kids love it too, especially the mac & cheese!
Sam’s Social Club
Sam’s Social Club Specialty Drinks
1712 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga www.samssocialclub.com 707-942-4969 7:30am – 9pm
Veraison in Calistoga
A relatively new addition to the Calistoga dining scene in late 2016, Veraison delivers French-inspired farm to table cuisine at this intimate dining establishment. As a recent recipient of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for 2018, you can be assured that this is one to put on your list when visiting the Napa Valley. Owner Dan Kaiser and Executive Chef James Richmond took Calistoga by storm with the opening of Johnny’s in March 2016 and later transitioned Johnny’s Tableside to its own entity as Veraison. Both of Kaiser’s restaurants are a huge success.
Oysters at Veraison
Must try menu items: Oysters from their Raw Bar, House-made Charcuterie & Artisan Cheeses, Chef’s Tasting Menu which changes daily with all freshly sourced ingredients.
French, Small Plates, Upscale, Cozy 1457 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga www.veraisoncalistoga.com 707-942-5938 Opens 5pm Every Day
Bardessono and The Estate In Yountville – Two Brilliant Gems
Vintage House Lobby
Once upon a time, in the heart of Napa Valley, there once was a small unknown village slightly off the beaten path called Yountville, long before Michelin Star restaurants, luxury hotels, charming little shops, and boutique winery tasting rooms. The town actually began when a small 11,887-acre parcel owned by the Mexican government awarded a land grant to George C. Yount in 1836. Yount was the first Euro-American to settle in these parts and was a true pioneer in planting vineyards in the Napa Valley. In the early days, part of Yountville was actually named Sebastopol, though after George Yount’s death in 1867, Sebastopol united with Yountville in honor of Yount’s life and the two communities became one in Napa County.
The influence of the railroad coming in in 1886 brought new growth, and shortly thereafter newcomer Gottlieb Groezinger bought 20 acres and built one of the first wineries in the area with a barrel room & distillery in 1870, now known in the center of town as V Marketplace. Next, came the building of Yountville’s veterans home bringing more added life to this sleepy hamlet. In 1965, the Town of Yountville became the 4th incorporated community in the Napa Valley.
Napa Valley’s first sparkling wine producer, Domaine Chandon opened their visitor center in 1977 along with the winery and the restaurant bringing notoriety to the region and proved to be instrumental in the continued wave of growth in Yountville. The expansion and popularity eventually put this famed “Miracle Mile” on the map as one of the most sought-after destinations to visit in wine country. The metamorphosis over the last several decades has transformed George Yount’s vision into an international tourist mecca.
Often referred to as the “Culinary Heart” of the Napa Valley, Yountville is host to many renowned restaurants including Thomas Keller’s famed French Laundry. A few fun facts provided by the town of Yountville:
2,933 – Yountville Population
19 – Number of Tasting Rooms
1,600 – Number of Restaurant Seats
1 – Gas Station with great wine and hot dogs
451 – Number of Hotel Rooms
$466 – Average Room Rate
$589 – Average Room Rate in October
Along the main drag in Yountville, you will find many charming get-a-ways – inns, B&B’s, Hotels and resorts to indulge and pamper you for your stay while on your visit to this magical little town. Two of the grandest luxury properties in Yountville are the Bardessono Hotel and Spa, and The Estate, which includes both the Hotel Villagio and the Vintage House.
The Bardessono comes with its own bit of history as it was built on the original home site of Yountville’s Bardessono family who relocated to the Napa Valley with their six children from the Piedmont region in Italy in 1926. John and Lucy bought the 20-acre parcel for a mere $14,000. Their extended family maintained the family compound until 1989 when part of it was sold off for residential development. There were five remaining acres in the Bardessono Brothers partnership, which is where the location of Bardessono Hotel and Spa stands today.
This “Deep Green” property situated in the core of Yountville in its own private enclave is the LEED Platinum Certified Bardessono Hotel. There are 28 LEED-certified properties in the United States, all dedicated to building a smarter more sustainable future. “Bardessono makes a commitment to provide a luxurious experience for guests within a sustainable environment.”
The developers of the hotel utilized over 10,000 square feet of salvaged wood, which they incorporated into the doors, flooring, walls of the guestrooms, spa, restaurant, and event space. Of the unique guestrooms and suites on the property, each offers its own individual space and personal sanctuary. They are described as a space for timeless indulgence, from the organic cotton bed linens to the hand-crafted bath products. Guest rooms are also equipped with leading technology including a virtual surround speaker system and media hub. Taking the pampering and first-class indulgence to new heights is their suite collection, which includes Spa-Suites, Steam-Spa Suites, Tufa Suites as well as customized ADA Suites.
Upon your arrival at the Bardessono, the essence of tranquility and beauty is immediate, as you experience a welcome peacefulness from the Zen-like surroundings transcending throughout the property. There are numerous gardens, sculptures and water features adorned throughout every enclave around this stunning hotel’s grounds. It feels so private that your experience often makes you feel like you are the only guest there. Yet there are so many wonderful amenities to offer from this unique property.
Lucy Restaurant at Bardessono
The Restaurant Lucy, named after the original proprietress of the property, Lucy Bardessono presents garden-style award-winning cuisine created by Executive Chef Nate Lindsay. Whether you are a guest at the hotel or visiting the Yountville for an evening, a stop at this stunning restaurant is a must on a to-do list. Lucy had a gift for farming and cultivated the grounds into a working farm in the 1920’s on the historic Bardessono grounds. Her passion for working the land with fresh farm produce inspired the ingredients utilized in Chef Lindsay’s stylized dishes. All the ingredients on The Lucy menus are from locally sourced purveyors and from the onsite certified organic gardens just steps from the restaurant.
Bardessono Bloody Mary’s
One of the many stand-out features of Lucy Restaurant is the specialty Bloody Mary Cart where the bar’s talented mixologist creates a customized Bloody Mary to suit your tastes. The demonstration is a visual experience and worth the journey to the cart, where the “Liquid Artists” craft this specialty beverage from Platinum 7X Vodka, fresh tomatoes and garden garnishes and a few other delicious additions.
Outdoor Bathtub and Shower at Bardessono
After your Bloody Mary, you may want to retreat back to your room for a dip in the Beer Bath Spa Treatment explicitly designed to enjoy in the privacy of your Bardessono guest room. A perfect treat for dad after a long day of sightseeing, wine tasting or golf. And of course, there is also an extensive Spa Menu for Mom as well. Their full-service spa was named top wellness spa in the US in 2017 by Organic Spa Magazine.
Centered in the middle of Yountville along a significant stretch of Washington Street is what is now known as The Estate in Yountville also known at Villagio. The expansive property extends just south of the French Laundry Gardens to the entry gateway to the south of town. Showcased along The Estate’s 22-acre compound is everything you can ask for in creating the perfect visitor experience. Nestled at each end of the expansive grounds are their two luxurious hotels, the Vintage House and the Hotel Villagio. You can also indulge in their newly renovated Spa or visit the neighboring winery tasting rooms – Silver Trident and JCB Tasting Salon. If it’s a bit of shopping that’s up your alley, a leisurely stroll through V Marketplace offers plenty of options for your Napa Valley treasures.
Open for lunch and dinner is, renowned chef and TV Host, Michael Chiarello’s Bottega Restaurant. His inspired Italian / California cuisine has earned him many culinary accolades including Zagat, Top 10 by Forbes, Top 20 by Esquire, and Top 100 Bay Area by Michael Bauer. Also throughout The Estate’s property are numerous meeting, indoor and outdoor venues and pavilions for everything from weddings, corporate retreats as well as small and large convention facilities. With the new addition of their gathering retreats and intimate garden areas, they can transition from 2700-square feet of indoor meetings to 11,000-square feet of outdoor entertaining space.
Vintage House Pool
The rebranding of the Estate began with the transformation and renovation of the Vintage House formerly the Vintage Inn where they began welcoming guests in October 2017. Bringing further luxurious updates is the welcoming of their newest additions with the Vineyard and the Pavilion, as well as a full-service bar with onsite entertainment in the newly built lounge and lobby at Hotel Villagio.
Hotel Villagio Guest Room
The spacious guest rooms at both hotels offer luxurious adornments throughout including fireplaces, outdoor balconies, complimentary daily breakfast all welcoming visiting guests in a sophisticated, inviting retreat atmosphere. The Hotel’s Winery Partner Program offers guests special perks to many of the most sought-after wineries in the Napa Valley.
Renovations to The Estate have been extensive, and no detail has been overlooked from the complete remodel including of all of the guest accommodations, the grounds, the spa, poolside cabanas, and much, much more. Everything you can imagine to make your visit to the Napa Valley memorable is at your beck and call, as The Estate has created a luxury playground along this Napa Valley promenade.
A few of the unique guest experiences offered a The Estate are:
Once Upon a Vine: A Guided vineyard tour and wine tasting at the Estate, sharing a sense of the heritage, culture and the history of Yountville
Love is in the Air: A private helicopter tour over the Napa Valley
The Art of Sabering: A lesson on the secrets of sabering a sparkling wine bottle from the masters at V Wine Cellars
That’s Amore: Indulge in a culinary experience led by Yountville’s own Celebrity Chef Michael Chiarello
Vintage House In Room Bar
This fabulous transformation of The Estate Yountville is slated as one of the most ambitious and grand renovations projects in the area. Their recent redevelopment efforts have contributed to an even more significant presence of this beautiful Napa Valley village along Yountville’s impressive Miracle Mile.
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A Polished Gem in the Heart of the Napa Valley
Brasswood Bar + Kitchen – Amazing dining in the Napa Valley. With all of the amazing restaurants that are scattered throughout the Napa Valley and new ones popping up every day, it can sometimes be compelling selecting a dining spot for a special lunch or dinner out. This one is a spot to definitely put on your culinary radar. Brasswood Bar + Kitchen, though only opened two years ago in 2016, has already proven to be a refreshing renaissance serving many familiar flavors at this Napa Valley dining establishment. A bevy of loyal patrons frequent the tables and have followed this loyal culinary entourage since their days at Tra Vigne. In fact, 85% of the current Brasswood team migrated over after the closing of Bill Harlan’s iconic St. Helena dining landmark Tra Vigne which served their well-known Italian dishes to dedicated valley patrons and visitors for many years in the historic Saint Helena old stone edifice.
Brasswood Chef David Nuno
At Brasswood, it is not uncommon at any time during the day to see signature Napa Valley winemakers and winery owners sitting at their favorite table breaking bread and sipping their favorite varietals over casual conversation. On the table to the right you may see KR of Rombauer, or over to the left Chuck Wagner of Caymus enjoying their favorite dishes, or Elias from Shafter and many more. They love to frequent Brasswood Bar + Kitchen for the distinct and familiar flavors of Chef David’s diverse menu in this relaxing, casual setting where they will always find a friendly face visiting their table. It is truly a “Vintners Village” again.
It was Stacia Dowdell, the proprietor and winemaker for Brasswood who approached Marcus Marquez, who is now the Vineyard Winery Estate General Manager, to spearhead the growth and development of the Brasswood Estate and is co-creator along with Stacia on it’s growing success and popular following. The timing for the creation of Brasswood Bar + Kitchen could not have been synergized more perfectly. Marcus met with the former Tra Vigne general manager Jennifer Bohr and Chef David Nuno to entice them to transition over to Brasswood’s upcoming restaurant. The segue was seamless, and they did not miss a beat, bringing along their dedicated team of restaurant professionals to complete the initial foundation of the troupe who have not only have they worked in tandem for many years, they are some of the very best in the industry.
Chef David Nuno has been creating and preparing his signature dishes in the Napa Valley for over 30 years and is known to many for his inspired cuisine. Though many of his popular dishes have transitioned over to Brasswood, they have taken on a new twist giving them their own new presence with a slightly different and renewed presentation. Chef David professes to only use the best and the freshest of Napa Valley ingredients.
Included in the extensive resume of Chef David’s epicurean experience in the Napa Valley are his many years at the helm at Tra Vigne as well as being mentored as a young chef by Philippe Jeanty for 17 years. However, his inspiration on his quest to create was instilled and inspired by the aromas and flavors of his mother’s food and ultimately led him to his path with cooking.
Signature Mozzarella Dish “Mozza”
One of the signature dishes which David Nuno brought along with him to the Brasswood tables is his notable mozzarella dish, nicknamed “Mozza.” Though you won’t see it in print on the daily menu, it is always available. Be sure to ask for it. Many have it has a side dish and or see it as their “go-to lunch” along with a simple salad at the bar, and it is definitely a local’s favorite. A few of the other dishes that are signature to David’s creations that are found on the Brasswood menu are Kale Salad; Sweet White Corn Soup; Crispy Arancini; Four Cheese Risotto and Confit of Sonoma Duck Leg; and the Dry Aged Porter House (for two). The menu does vary seasonally to coincide with the freshest of ingredients available, though his signature creations are a constant anchor on the Brasswood menu.
A few of the notable dishes that we had the delicious opportunity to taste are the Roasted Beet Salad with roasted beets, mandarins, radish, shaved ricotta salata, fennel, pistachios with orange vinaigrette dressing. (See recipe attached)
The Warm Brussel Sprout Salad proved a seasonal treat and is like breakfast for dinner. Prepared with shaved Brussels, smoked bacon, caramelized onion, salt pepper, olive oil, lemon juice topped with a sunny-side up egg and sprinkled Parmesan. The Herb Infused Pappardelle & Short Rib Sugo along with braised radicchio, aged balsamic, thyme and arugula paired with the Brasswood “Top Brass” Cab 2012 made it a memorable winner. Another brainchild of Chef David is the Pan Seared Halibut with homemade gnocchi, spring caponata, basil aioli, and fish brodo and is a not to miss dish.
When in season, be sure to ask for the Padron Peppers which he is well known for.
And the topper, of course, is their desserts, a perfect way to finish a perfect meal. They have just added to their top-notch team their first pastry chef, Mia Nguyen, formerly of Morimoto and Bouchon.
If a quick stop for an afternoon beverage is on your agenda, their inviting bar offers up an opportunity to catch up with friends over one of their signature House Cocktails, created by Assistant General Manager and Innovative Mixologist, Luke Christian. He creates all of the delightful concoctions offered at the Brasswood Bar. Several of these infused libations poured for your enjoyment is the “Herbs on Fire” – a blend of tru lemon vodka, fresh citrus, pomegranate, basil, rosemary, mint, llanllyr source fiery ginger beer or the “Sweet and Caliente” – Cimarron tequila, giffard cassis, lime, grapefruit, cilantro and jalapeno.
The Brasswood Bar + Kitchen’s atmosphere is warm and inviting in a barn-like intimate setting with big cozy booths and long tables under gleaming brass light fixtures for larger parties. The restaurants interior is accessorized with reclaimed wood and brass fixtures throughout, thus the inspiration for the name. Marcus wanted a name that brought you to a place that was a fantasy of food, wine, and relaxation. Their inviting covered outdoor seating is spread across a lovely deck overlooking the wineries beautifully landscaped courtyard. Many special events are hosted at the Brasswood Estate.
The common thread with the energy and philosophy of the Brasswood team is they always pride themselves on making it a personal experience. It is a dining and congregating experience not to be missed!
Brasswood Bar + Kitchen: 3111 St. Helena Hwy. N., St. Helena, CA 94574