Many days I suffer lunchtime envy as I read this board. Yes, from my St. Helena office I can see roses, olive trees and vineyards. But when it comes to lunch, there aren't any cheap interesting options in this town. It's tough to do lunch for less than $15. One day perhaps my prayers will be answered and the city council will have a "temporary lapse in judgement" and decide to allow a taco truck. Yes, I am a dreamer.
But in the meantime, a friend mentioned last week that the Cantinetta at Tra Vigne had reopened and had good prices. I was easily convinced to meet for lunch. They've got four tiny tables inside and more tables in the courtyard. The menu offers a handful of interesting antipasti, salads and paninis, and yes, the prices are reasonable. The appetizers are under $6. They offer a cheese plate in 4 sizes. The salads run between $5-$6. The paninis run $6-$7. The wine list offers wine by the taste, glass and bottle.
For $6.50 I enjoyed a delicious panini with mortadella, coppa, speck, calabrian chile and provolone, accompanied by a fresh handful of mixed greens. It was a satisfying lunch. I'm eager to go back and try the guanciale e fagioli, described as air cured pork, shell beans & arugula or "Italian pork and beans".
So on those days when my urban lunch envy runs high you'll find me consoling myself at the Cantinetta.