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Oventi Releases Microbrews, Adds Full Bar and Wine

The former Marie Callender's in north Napa is a very different place now, with microbrewed beers and a full bar augmenting the Mediterranean-inspired menu. And wine lovers: There's no corkage fee to bring your own to the table.

Diners who panned the service at Oventi Restaurant & Bakery when it first opened last October may want to consider giving the place a second chance: Owner Cyrus Mousavi says his early personnel problems are a thing of the past, with a stable and competent group of employees now working all parts of the house.

Oventi now also has a full liquor license, wine and beer — including its own pilsener and lager, which have been readying for months in two tanks at the front of the bakery.

Mousavi said the beers would be released to customers this weekend, but only after he approves the flavors.

"I'm picky. I have to taste everything myself," Mousavi said.

Wine lovers dining at Oventi can bring their own bottles without a corkage fee. 

In the dining room, decor-induced echos of Marie Callender's — longtime former occupant of the building before it closed abruptly in 2011 — fade with a glance at the Oventi menu

In the kitchen, founding chef Jose Paulo Sousa Carvalho is turning out savory Mediterranean dishes like paella and moussaka, along with international specialties including lamb korma and osso bucco — but that's just part of the extensive Oventi menu, which Mousavi says is all made without prepared formulas.

Lunch specials offer a panorama of sandwiches, desserts are Euro-American (tiramisu, créme brulée, cheesecake) and breakfast, which Mousavi first envisioned as a daily affair, has been reined back to Saturdays, with a Sunday brunch buffet ($13.95).

Among other breads and pastries, the bakery produces an airy, fresh focaccia and a Portuguese custard tart. 

Expect more changes at Oventi as Mousavi continues to develop what he plans to become the first of a chain of 10 restaurants in California; he has previously opened four eateries in Spain, he said.

Located at 1990 Trower Ave., adjacent to the Napa Winery Inn, Oventi is open daily. Call (707)637-4468 for hours.

Editor's note: Mousavi and manager Sam Neine invited Napa Valley Patch to sample the food and service with them on a recent Friday evening. We offered to pay, but they insisted we were guests of the house. Our attentive waitress was Nicole. We made sure to tip her even though no bill was presented.

Paying customers may have differing experiences. We'd like to know about yours: Please tell us in the comments section.

Related reporting:

  • Marie Callender's Closes Doors in Napa
  • Napa Diners Lament Restaurant Closure
  • New Restaurant-Bakery Planned for Former Marie Callender's in North Napa
  • Pies to Return at North Napa Bakery-Restaurant
  • Oventi Restaurant Opens in Napa

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Debbie Murray January 27, 2013 at 04:08 PM
We dined at Oventi when they first opened, needless to say this was a bad move. Our second time was on Jan. 18th, another bad move. The food was fair and overpriced. I live very close to Oventi and was hoping for something moderately priced and more of a family style fare. Service was fair. We were charged for 2 dinners on my debit card, I noticed this on Sunday Jan 20th. It took me two trips and about an hour to get this mistake settled. Nicole, a supervisor at Oventi, promised me she would call me in a couple of day to make sure the credit showed up on my bank account. Here is is 7 days later and no call. Don't bother calling now Nicole. Next time we will go across the highway to Il Postol if we want a fabulous dinner and wonderful service.
Marie Turner January 27, 2013 at 04:50 PM
We had dinner at this restaurant in October. It was the worst meal we have ever attempted to eat. Terrible terrible food (Chicken Korma and Salmon). Plus, it was overwhelmingly overpriced. We were charged $4.00 for bread with two entrees. We drive by freguently and every time we shudder and thank God we did not get food poisoning from this meal. If the "founding" chef is still there, it is to be avoided at all costs. No home cook would have even served the food that he did. I wouldn't spend $.01 to eat there again.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) January 27, 2013 at 06:02 PM
Il Posto is really wonderful. We have some great choices in north Napa including Fumé, VINeleven, BarBersQ, Firewood, Villa Corona. But I think Oventi is the only one with a bakery and brewery - I'm looking forward to trying the beer, because I can walk home afterward.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) January 27, 2013 at 06:05 PM
Marie, you can't get food poisoning from just disliking your meal.
Unfiltered Steve Simoneau January 27, 2013 at 08:09 PM
The article is correct: Restaurants should be given a second chance if they claim to have "fixed" the problems. But since our own experience at Oventi was so horrible we won't even consider going back until we see several positive and glowing reviews. Mr. Mousavi, you can't blame the team if the coaches and owners are the problem.
Anita D'Groin January 27, 2013 at 09:08 PM
It is hardly the definitive source, but have you looked at the reviews posted on Yelp for Oventi? http://www.yelp.com/biz/oventi-restaurant-napa You will find numerous, heart felt, one star reviews posted there. No, I haven't been there myself - and I have no plans to do so until after I see a goodly number of believable positive reviews or reports that they have improved. I am always leery of any restaurant that tries to do to many things or offer too much variety. It is far better to strive to do one thing great than to try to do too many things - and end up doing them in a mediocre fashion.
Anita D'Groin January 27, 2013 at 09:26 PM
If you take a look at the Yelp reviews for Oventi, be sure to read the filtered reviews too - especially the one posted by "Steve S.". Now that's FUNNY!
Veronica January 28, 2013 at 01:22 AM
Well, I delayed trying Oventi because of the Yelp reviews even though I'd been eagerly awaiting a family-friendly, reasonably priced restaurant. The reviews were frightening. We finally decided we needed to try Oventi ourselves. I agree the prices are somewhat high and I really don't understand why customers would be charged for bread before a meal but our food was tasty and our server and cashier were friendly. I'm hoping the owner is sincere about making improvements. He should consider lowering prices and definitely provide bread while customers wait for their meals. Louisa, where is VINeleven?
Susan Diehl January 28, 2013 at 02:40 AM
My husband and I were excited for a new restaurant near us. One Thursday night as the Giants were wrapping up the World Series, we decided to try Oventi. It was a ghost town, but service was very slow. We waited in silence for a long time, finally got waters, and had to ask for bread, which we did have to pay for. My husband's salad was underwhelming with unripe tomatoes and bland everything else. I think mine was called chicken korma--but it was really strange. It was chicken off of a grill with an extremely sweet, dark brown sauce. I couldn't eat it. It came with vegetables that were a mismatch for the flavor of the chicken. My husband ordered a soda, since there was no beer or wine at the time. It was flat. The server was very flustered and kept going back to try again, but they were having trouble with the machine and after she gave us numerous flat beverages, he gave up. The server looked concerned when I didn't want to take my food home, and I said it was just not what I expected. She said the cook had complaints it was too spicy, so he changed the sauce. I had a stomachache by then and we had been there forever, so we asked for the check. (we had to ask for it...she didn't just bring it) She took off the soda. It broke my heart when she said--I hope you won't let this keep you from coming back! She looked so sad, because although we were nice about it, she could see we were really disappointed. (We did take a burger home to our son and he liked it.) Continued...
Susan Diehl January 28, 2013 at 02:56 AM
In late Dec we decided we would try it 1 more time. It was partially full & the owner was aimlessly milling about. We should have known things had not improved when people at the tables near us looked irritated by the long wait, or were sending their food back, or calling their server over to complain. A table near us was piled high with dirty dishes. We watched the owner and several servers (we didn't see any busboys) walk by the table repeatedly, ignoring it for 45 minutes. My husband's breakfast burrito was cool in the middle. My bacon was a mix of half white/raw, and half black. I rarely send anything back--especially bacon! But I did. Meanwhile, my son's "triple chocolate" pancake (which we understood would be choc batter w/ choc chips inside & chocolate ganache atop) finally came. It was a plain pancake. We said something, and the server said, "oh, I'll have them put chocolate on it!" He came back 5 min later with the same (now cold) pancake with mini choc chips, & a thin drizzle of choc syrup. Then, another exciting thing happened! The server came back with a veritable WAD of crispy bacon, piled high in a big nest! However, it was sitting in a pool of veg oil, because the cook had thrown a handful of bacon in the deep fat fryer. There was even a french-fry. When we left, the owner or manager was lounging at the podium, and we wanted to shake him! Where is Gordon Ramsey when you need him?
Kristina January 28, 2013 at 03:27 AM
Its doomed. The Napa restaurant scene is all about word of mouth...and the people have spoken.
Susan Diehl January 28, 2013 at 04:05 AM
No, Kristina! There are going to be NINE MORE! :)
Debbie Murray January 28, 2013 at 05:10 AM
No! Not 9 more! My parents ate at Oventi for the first time tonight. They had to try for themselves. Two more Napans that won't be going back. Oventi; word of mouth travels fast in this town!
Anita D'Groin January 28, 2013 at 05:11 AM
Hmmm..... I'll have to remember not to order the fries.
Unfiltered Steve Simoneau January 28, 2013 at 05:53 AM
That would be me.
Scott Yeager January 28, 2013 at 02:28 PM
Word travels fast everywhere now. The internet has changed all that. This site is a perfect example.
Anita D'Groin January 28, 2013 at 06:58 PM
Unfiltered Steve, Now that's REALLY funny - but then I'm easily amused. I didn't consider the possible connection between the anonymous "Steve S." and you until after I had made my previous post.
MICHAEL P WILSON "Independent Kid" January 29, 2013 at 04:34 AM
Wow Yelp has no love for this place.
Abby Lane January 29, 2013 at 07:53 PM
I agree that it's definitely over-priced for the food that is served. I can't imagine them charging for a basket of bread! Who does that?? They do seem to have a lot of balls in the air; a micro-brewery, bakery AND "fancy" restaurant complete with bar. They should focus on fixing their current issues and then expanding to include other aspects, if that's what they want to do.
DJ Lipton Weide January 30, 2013 at 12:45 AM
We did enjoy our meal there, and I think we were there in December. It did not seem overpriced to us, and everything was tasty AND the service was just fine - attentive and not too long a wait. I hope we enjoy it as much the next time. I do think it's not quite up to the standards of some of the more expensive restaurants, but it's fine for what it is - a decent neighborhood place.

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