Ciccio spread
All photos courtesy of Ciccio

The RundownSan FranciscoNapa

Ciccio Returns to Napa Valley Better Than Ever

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PSA: Starting June 8, Resy Global Dining Access members are able to book at Ciccio 90 days in advance, allowing for an exclusive 30-day booking window for eligible Card Members. An eligible American Express® Card must be on file to unlock early access. Terms apply.

Christopher and Martina Kostow have officially reopened Ciccio in Yountville.

The Italian restaurant originally opened in 2012 by vintner Frank Altamura and quickly gained a cult following of both tourists and locals alike, who would brave the long waits for wonderfully charred wood-fired pizza and big plates of pasta.

When the restaurant shuttered during the pandemic, the Kostows, who also run The Charter Oak, were instantly interested: “It was one of our favorite restaurants in the valley, and we saw a need to make sure this thing could continue,” says Christopher Kostow. “The only way I know how to make the valley better is through restaurants, and we took it upon ourselves to make sure this place continues.”

Key players within the Ciccio leadership team are GM Edgar Antonio, maître d’ Rosa Murillo, and beverage director Micah Clark, with the kitchen crew led by chef Juan Carlos Atonal with oversight from Christopher Kostow and John Tyler Franson, the restaurant group’s culinary director.

Here’s everything else you need to know about Ciccio, Napa’s revived Cal-Italian charmer.

Ciccio pizza
Photo courtesy of Ciccio
Ciccio pizza
Photo courtesy of Ciccio

1. The food is the same, but different.

“We’re not trying to recreate dishes as they were, but we are being very careful to keep a similar menu format and style,” says Kostow. “The goal is that there’s a feeling of seamlessness of what was and what is.”

The menu is divided into sections. First there are snacks & starters — focaccia finished in the wood-burning oven, a plate of shaved mortadella, olives grilled over the fire. “It’s light, it’s fun, it’s product-focused,” says Kostow.

Next are the pastas, made in house and changing with the seasons. There will be a ricotta and spinach gnudi with fennel pollen and fennel tops; mezzalune with pork and mortadella; a crowd-pleasing bucatini cacio e pepe using cheese from Pennyroyal Farm with slightly burned peppercorn; and a hearty rigatoni with beef Bolognese drizzled with a warm béchamel.

Ciccio pizza tossing
Photo courtesy of Ciccio
Ciccio pizza oven
Photo courtesy of Ciccio

There has to be a pizza section of course. They’re doing naturally leavened pizzas with beautiful ingredients and flavor combinations. Think potato with leek confit and caper salsa verde, or sausage with cherry peppers and raw onion. “By design we want our crust to have some crunch — these will have some texture,” says Kostow, who sources oak from previous owner Frank Altamura’s ranch.

Meaty mains include a bavette on a sizzling plate with shallots and mustard and fresh herbs, a bone-in pork chop Milanese with a mostarda made of preserved fruit from last year, and a half chicken with Calabrian chiles and pickled garlic that hits all the spicy, sweet, and sour notes.

Sides to accompany might include beets cooked in beef fat and rosemary and polenta cooked with whey from mozzarella. Save room for dessert, which includes prunes cooked in red wine and spices served with whipped mascarpone (an homage to Frankies in Brooklyn), ricotta hazelnut chocolate cannoli, and buffalo milk ice cream with strawberries and olive oil.

Ciccio in Yountville
The front of the newly reopened Ciccio, in Yountville. Photo courtesy of Ciccio
Ciccio in Yountville
The front of the newly reopened Ciccio, in Yountville. Photo courtesy of Ciccio

2. Yes, the Negronis are still here.

“The goal is that there’s some Italian lens,” says Kostow, who enlisted the help of the restaurant group’s beverage director, Micah Clark. Paying homage to the prior incarnation, there’ll be, not one, but three Negronis, and the wine list will be 80% Italian. “It’s small and focused,” says Kostow. Of course, there will be local wines, including some from Altamura.

Photo courtesy of Ciccio
The interior of the new Ciccio, in Yountville. Photo courtesy of Ciccio

3. The space is ready for the next decade. 

“Like the food, the goal was to punch it up a bit but still allow it to have some semblance of what it was before,” says Kostow. “We don’t want people to be shocked.”

They threw on a fresh coat of paint, lined the tables with brown paper, procured some new plateware, and a couple pieces of new furniture, and redid the bathroom.

“What was attractive about Ciccio is that it felt authentic,” says Kostow. “It was a place where locals and visitors intermingled naturally. It was a real thing and it was very important to us that it didn’t become something overly slick. We did very little but what we did was very focused and the result is very pretty.”

4. Oh, and did we mention the reservations?

The old Ciccio never took reservations, but luckily, the new Ciccio does. The restaurant reopened for dinner service on May 11, with dinner Thursday through Monday to start. Starting on May 25, dinner service will run seven days a week. Hours are 5-8:30 p.m. initially, with expanded hours and lunch service to follow. Make your Resy right here.

 

Omar Mamoon is a San Francisco-based writer & cookie dough professional. Find him at @ommmar. Follow Resy, too.