Our day in Napa began with an early lunch at Bistro Don Giovanni. With our dinner at Bouchon in mind, we were looking for something light, and BDG was perfect.
We started with the Caesar Salad. The Caesar was good: fresh Romaine hearts, creamy dressing, crisp house made croutons and a top notch parmesan. My only complaint was the anchovies which were clearly not house cured (Im a bit spoiled by the anchovies at Pizzaiolo).
The arugula salad was good though not as memorable. Fresh arugula, endives and shaved parmesan. I loved all of the ingredients, but there was no wow when they came together. It was a great salad, Ive just had better.
Butternut squash ravioli was excellent. Truth is, anything that uses Bellweather farms ricotta is going to be excellent. I liked the texture of the house made pasta and I thought the sweetness of the ricotta and the squash were nicely muted by the pesto. What was really special about this dish was the lemon cream sauce that brought everything together.
Beef carpaccio was outstanding. Razor thin slices of beef were topped with arugula, capers, parmesan and lemon juice. All of the flavors balanced one another perfectly: the savory beef, the bitter greens, the sour capers and lemon and the salty cheese. This was my favorite dish of the afternoon, one where the sum truly transcended its parts.
Dessert was a tiramisu. Im not a fan of sweets in the afternoon but Mrs. Mousse is always searching for a great tiramisu, and it was her birthday, so I wasnt about to say no. She loved it and declared it the best tiramisu she has ever had. I was glad to see her happy.
The atmosphere at BDG is one of its strongest points. We sat on the terrace which blended indoors/outdoors beautifully. We were surrounded by vibrant plants, hummingbirds and butterflies yet the heater kept Mrs. Mousse nice and warm. As we had an early lunch (11:30) we had the terrace (and our friendly server) entirely to ourselves.
Lunch came in a hair under $50. Although ingredient quality was excellent, when comparing it to my neighborhood Italian bistro, Pizzaiolo, Pizzaiolo wins on all counts except atmosphere. Still, for a light lunch before a decadent dinner in Napa, it was perfect. And the atmosphere was truly wonderful.