Aaron Diaz came to Napa from Mexico in the mid-1970s with his mother and brother.
In 1989, he met his mentor and friend, Giovanni Scala, while working at the during his high school summer break.
At the time, Giovanni and his wife were opening Piatti Restaurant in Yountville, and invited Diaz to come work for them.
With a handshake and a borrowed white dress shirt, Diaz started his career in the culinary industry.
For the next 19 years, he honed his skills at Piatti and then at the Scalas' popular restaurant, .
In the Spring of 2009, Diaz purchased , a casual Napa hangout popular with locals and a focal point of Downtown Napa’s blossoming music scene.
Julie: What are the most important lessons you learned from Giovanni and Donna Scala?
Aaron: They taught me the passion of this business. And to have patience, be humble and be genuine.
Julie: What is the most important thing you teach to new servers?
Aaron: Know what you’re selling and no matter what, always have a smile on your face. Have patience and be humble.
Julie: Where do you find inspiration for the menu?
Aaron: From my conversations about food with Giovanni, and going to other great restaurants. My travels throughout Italy over the past 12 years and 19 years of exposure to the best Italian food inspires me.
Julie: How important is the music aspect of your business?
Aaron: It’s definitely a big draw. Not many places in the Valley offer what we do. We showcase a lot of local and Bay Area talent (jazz, blues, R&B, pop, flamenco) with no cover charge.
Julie: How do you decide what music to book?
Aaron: My partner, who’s also my brother, plays a big role. It’s challenging because there is so much talent, and we want to find the right fit for Uva’s dinner crowd. We take the style, sound and the night of the week all into consideration.
Julie: You have a loyal clientele.
Aaron: We do. Uva Trattoria has been around for over 12 years. The locals are a big part, and at the same time we have made friends with people from the Bay Area and out-of-state. Many have become regulars! With the increase of new hotels over the years, Napa has become much more of a destination. I’ve seen an increase in tourism.
Julie: How much interaction do you have with the customers?
Aaron: I’m actually a “front of the house” proprietor and I share my inspiration and ideas with Chef Marco. So my interaction with customers happens on a daily basis.
Julie: Is it tough with all the new competition in town?
Aaron: I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished with Uva Trattoria, and I wish much success for everyone. It’s not easy to succeed in this business.
Julie: What do you like most about your job?
Aaron: Having one... and “buon cibo, buon vino e buoni amici.” Good food, good wine and good friends. And I love working with great people who I hope someday may also be inspired to have their own restaurant.
Julie: What would you be doing if you weren’t in the restaurant business?
Aaron: Playing futbol in Brazil or fishing in Sicily.