Oventi Restaurant Opens in Napa

Oventi, the new restaurant and bakery at the former Marie Callender's in north Napa, served its first meal Monday morning and Napa Valley Patch was there. When will you be trying the new place?

After months of anticipation, Oventi Restaurant & Bakery in north Napa finally opened its doors Monday morning at the old Marie Callender's on Trower Avenue just east of Highway 29.

Chef Jose Paulo Sousa Carvalho's first meal out of the Oventi kitchen was a savory Spanish tortilla (omelet) with scrupulously fresh focaccia for $5.50.

The breakfast menu also includes smoothies, fresh pastries and hearty classics like eggs Benedict, with a twist: Instead of $10, $12 or more, Oventi's Benedict is priced under $6.

Reasonable pricing, without skimping on portion size, is owner Cyrus Mousavi's strategy at Oventi because, he says, "the local community is my highest priority."

Tourists are always welcome, Mousavi added, but "the local people are keeping the lights on."

Mousavi said he has hired 38 Napa Valley residents to work in his new eatery, which will be open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The extensive menu represents "the best of Europe," he said, with paella, pastas and three sizes of pizzas alongside such American favorites as burgers and, for the kids, goujonettes (chicken fingers), meat balls and mac and cheese.

Oventi may also be the only place in Napa where you can get a roast pork sandwich, served on a baguette, at sunrise.

Most dishes on the menu will be available throughout the day, with the noteworthy exception of the Brazilian Rodizio, served Sunday for lunch and dinner.

This menu item, $15.95, features "perfectly grilled beast meats" — leg of lamb, suckling pig and top sirloin — carved tableside and served with vegetables and potatoes.

Mousavi said the complete menu will be posted on the restaurant's website by noon today.

A full beer, wine and liquor license is in the works, Mousavi said. (Click the "Keep me posted" button below for an automatic update when the restaurant is cleared to serve alcoholic beverages.) Meanwhile, soft drink lovers are in luck here: Refills are free and the orange juice is freshly made.

Oventi's opening brings new life to the long-shuttered north Napa property, which abruptly closed as Marie Callender's in April, 2011 after New York-based investment firm Castle Harlan Inc. folded its Perkins-Marie Callender's chain under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code.

According to a corporate press release, Perkins & Marie Callender’s filed for the protection due to “a sharp decline in restaurant sales.”

But Mousavi sees a bright future for Oventi, which is designed to be the first in a regional chain. And while not as pie-oriented as Callender's was, the new Napa bakery will offer traditional pies, he said.

The restaurant also has a meeting and banquet room, which is already booking reservations, Mousavi said.

Vital stats: Oventi Restaurant & Bakery, 1990 Trower Ave, Napa 94558, (707) 637-4468, www.oventirestaurant.com and on Facebook. Open daily 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Full liquor license pending: Click "Keep me posted" for an automatic update when it is approved.

Read more:

  • 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

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Steve Sando October 01, 2012 at 08:21 PM
How great that this place is reopening and even better that it's independents rather than a chain. I hope it's great and I wish them all the best.
Angela Larson October 01, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Nice to have a restaurant open that employs local people!! Great job, can't wait to have breakfast. Sounds good and at reasonable prices. Thanks.
Lorie October 01, 2012 at 11:54 PM
I'm going to stop by tomorrow morning for breakfast...Eggs Benedict? I'm in! Good luck to them!
Anne Fugit October 02, 2012 at 02:02 PM
We finally walked out at 1:45 after waiting nearly an hour for our lunch. My husband ordered the ceasar salad with chicken and I ordered the steak salad. The owners family was sitting in the back room .. and they received food several times while we looked on through the glass doors. I know it was the first day -- but they really need to get their act together. Not sure we'll go back any time soon.
Undiscovered Napa Sonoma October 02, 2012 at 03:27 PM
I am so glad to see that they have hired 38 locals..That means 38 jobs. Please support your locals. I work in restaurants and opening days are crazee.....Give em a break..fast.....and support your locals
Mike Treleven October 02, 2012 at 04:26 PM
I hope they can correct the service issue. It was very unwise to first cater to the family. Poor service is something diners find hard to forgive. Hope their prices are reasonable — something working locals can afford. Might give it a try this weekend.
Carol Y October 02, 2012 at 05:40 PM
We went shortly before noon - service was fine, though he did write down and bring the wrong pizza. I suspect he wasn't familiar with the names and was too unsure to clarify. We could only find soup, salad, pasta or a hamburger or chickenburger as lunch type choices, so we decided to split a lg. pizza ($24), and the crust was undercooked - the other ingredients were sparse, but good. While breakfast appeared to be priced reasonably, we thought the rest was priced much higher (tourist prices?). I didn't notice much of a facelift on the main floor and the place still needed a good cleaning (walls with old food splatters, dust). When we left we had to step aside as the owner, a child (his?) and a waitress pushed by us. We might go back when they start serving pies, but I hope the crust will be cooked!
Sharkgirl October 02, 2012 at 08:38 PM
TOTALLY! My friend and I took our 4 and 5 yr old boys there for opening night. Found a hair in one of the boys mac and cheese, side dishes were separate from their meals which was extra money, their plates were scalding hot and the staff didn't warn us, my steak salad had 12 pieces of tomato with fatty steak, and the ham salad my friend got had stale ham in it. We ordered calamari. The boys got their food first, then 15 mins later we got the calamari and our salads (our app didn't have the dip or the potato patties which took another 10 mins to get). Worse dining experience I have ever had. To top it off, they couldn't split our credit cards so my friend had to write a check. AND nothing comped so we paid 55 dollars for horrible food and bad service. I hope they get it together. You would think opening night they would have SOME ducks in a row. DISAPPOINTED.
Sharkgirl October 02, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Carol, yes I saw the kids going to the back room with the glass doors. The prices for dinner weren't any cheaper than Il Posto across the highway which is way better food and service. Understanding it was the opening day, you should really have certain pieces of your business taken care of. Dust and food splatter, ultra hot plates for children (which the food wasn't as hot so they microwaved them) and family running around is unacceptable.
rebecca b October 02, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Sharkgirl, we were right across from you last night. I heard you telling them your problems....I can't believe they didn't comp some of your meal. We had excellent food, BUT, it took way too long (over 2 hrs) & even after they boxed our leftovers, it was 40 minutes until we received a bill so we could pay & leave. I literally had to go ask the manager if our waiter had died or something. We expected some small issues, first day & all. And we will go back, bc our food was really good. But man. Oh, and we wondered why the kids were going in & out of the "glass room", too. My son went in for a minute, and it was super cool (a/c was on full blast) in there. The rest of the restaurant was hot, I don't understand why they couldn't a/c the whole building....
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) October 02, 2012 at 11:49 PM
I didn't see the family last night because I was enjoying my friend's company so much I didn't really look around; but I know Cyrus had been there since before they opened at 6 a.m. — and so had the chef. (And apparently one of the 38 new hires, a line cook, didn't show up at all.) It doesn't surprise me that things were fraying apart by dinnertime. We didn't get our dessert, but that kept the bill down. Cyrus seems eager to do the right thing so if you had a really bad experience, give him a chance to make it up to you in some way by letting him know. (He reads these comments, but that doesn't easily allow for direct contact.) On another thread we had a comment from Steve Simoneau about when to go to a new restaurant — worth reading: http://napavalley.patch.com/articles/new-restaurant-in-napa-s-fagiani-building-opens-today-will-you-try-it
Marsha Dorgan October 03, 2012 at 02:22 PM
My husband and I decided to give it a try even after hearing several negative remarks from friends. We got there at 12:15 p.m.. the place was locked up and no sign of life. We tried the door. A staff member came to the door and said they were not opening until 1 p.m. The was no sign on the door giving the restaurant's hours of operation, nor a menu. I could not get access to their menu at their Website. We drove a ways to get to the restaurant. Don't know if I will go there again anytime soon.
Lorie October 03, 2012 at 03:35 PM
C'mon, give the guy a break! You know how hard it is to get good, reliable, responsible "hired help" at a reasonable rate? By now, probably half of the people they hired are fired or not coming back. I was going to give it a try for breakfast the other day, but after reading all these negative experiences I think I better wait a few weeks for the "management" to figure out their plan so I won't be a pissed off "one time customer" of their very welcomed business.
Sharkgirl October 03, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Rebecca, let me start by saying sorry! I hope our rambunctious children didn't interrupt your dinner. As you said, the time it took to get our meals, and pay was over 2 hours as well. The boys had eaten WAY before we even got our salads and appetizer so they were even more ready to leave! It was hot in there, and I was surprised to hear from you that the "glass room" was nice and cool. Interesting to say the least. I will go back as well when the newness wears off and try again since I was super excited about this place! But I sure hope they read these comments, suggestions and take it as constructive criticism.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) October 03, 2012 at 03:51 PM
They definitely need to work out the kinks. But this isn't unusual: NV Biscuits was running out of food every day when they first opened earlier this year, and actually closed for remodeling after about a week to add more capacity. Oventi is trying to make from-scratch meals, with a new menu and staff; that just can't be as easy as processing food-service bulk products the way Marie Callender's did. So yeah, let's give them some time to work it out.
Sharkgirl October 03, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Louisa, I understand your point. And I will try again later. I do understand that it was the first night of opening but ultra hot plates for preschoolers with no expression from the staff is unacceptable, and thankfully my friend and I touched the plates first. With that being shared to the staff, we should have had a break in our bill. It was not worth a 55 dollar meal experience. Thank you for the positive note on this since some people do have a zero tolerance to service like this. I will go back, I think the potential is there if they can get the air cleaned.
William Compton October 03, 2012 at 05:09 PM
We went there for dinner last eve, arriving at 5:15. We finally were greeted by our waitress at 5:30, who seemed to be the only member of the wait staff though there were plenty of bussers scurrying about. After ordering drinks it took about 15 more minutes before they arrived. We ordered an appetizer and meals at the same time as drinks, but it (which was tasty) took a half hour to arrive and was brought by a guy who querried tables asking who ordered it. At 6:10 the waitress informed us there had been a mistake made delaying our orders, which would be up momentarily as finishing touches were being made. At this point my girlfriend, who generally has the patience of Job, started a timer. As I had finished my tea I tried to flag down anyone wearing black for a refill but they all seemed to have tunnel vision as none noticed my arm waving (odd considering I am tall with long arms). Just over 20 minutes later the waitress again appeared and said our meals should be ready in about five more minutes. We had been there well over an hour by this point, and as we had no faith the food would indeed appear at this new time my girlfriend simply canceled the order and asked for the check. In spite of the obvious impatience of my girlfriend it still took over five minutes for the waitress to bring the check, from which she had deducted one of our ice teas. Other than the few times the waitress came to our table she was rarely in the dining room, so maybe she was also cooking?
Carol Y October 03, 2012 at 08:11 PM
I felt guilty for complaining knowing how difficult it can be the first month of operation for a restaurant, which is why I gave kudos for the service. We were seated promptly, and later the server offered refills, cautioned us about the hot pizza platter (a few times), cleared the plates promptly, etc. His only mistake was not clarifying our order that he apparently misunderstood - we didn't bother to complain about this because we didn't want to wait any longer. He also apologized for the delay in food arriving at our table. Which is the part I feel ok in complaining about - the turn around time from ordering to receiving food seems to be the main issue everyone has had, and I think a good kitchen would have the timing down. Wait staff issues are pretty common for a new restaurant, but food shouldn't be an issue. I will probably try them for the affordable breakfast, but I will give them time to work out the kinks. I can't believe how fast some people are to say they will 'never' go back.
firewater October 03, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Thank you Louisa for sticking up for the owner's..First off I have been in The Restaurant Business for over 40 years in some of the top eateries around the bay an Napa. First Nite is always a nightmare, everyone want to rush in an expect everything perfect..Sorry it doesn't go this way an never will..I always wait at least a week to let them get all their ducks in a row. After you all simmer down go back in a month then Judge. I will for sure go there, it seems like they are trying. an a note to parents whom let their children run around that is a nightmare for server's trying to dodge them.
rebecca b October 04, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Just for the record, we ended up going on the first day mostly because I was bored with the other restaurants that we frequent. Since it was their 1st day, we went in KNOWING there would likely be some small issues. And we will go back. We have never judged a restaurant on 1 bad day, especially during their first few weeks of service. Give the guy a break.
P October 06, 2012 at 01:11 AM
What a dissapointment!!! I can forgive the awkward service issues on our visit as new staff. But, they were out of menus when we arrived?!? When the menus did arrive, I noted that they were in some heavy binder with cheap plastic inserts; the food listings were on cheap paper - why didn't they have the two dozen or so items printed on a legal-size card stock with some nice graphics? My son ordered the hamburger without the tomato ragout and they got it wrong; he sent it back and got a new burger about half the size of the bun. I ordered the spanish-style croquettes and got fried balls of tasteless mush served at the same time as my chicken parmigana. The chicken parm was old, overcooked and dried out chicken with some tomato paste and cheese on top. The accompanying pasta and entire plate was doused in a ground Italian-herb mix and inedible. We won't be back.
P October 06, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Bad service from a new restaurant? Give them a break. Bad food - no second chances.
Ron October 08, 2012 at 06:06 PM
bad service + bad food= no go I can understand some growning pains but see no reason to even try it
Kristina October 08, 2012 at 06:50 PM
I can't help but see some similarities between Oventi and the restaurants featured on "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" already. Bad service, bad food, lack of cleanliness, cutting corners...not a good sign.
Marie Turner October 13, 2012 at 05:12 PM
My friend and I went there for lunch on October 5th. Never, in either of our lives (and we are senior citizens) have we had such HORRIBLE food. Additionally, the service was terrible and the place was filthy. Our chicken and salmon were so hard and overcooked that we could barely eat them. The accompanying sauces were dried up and off-tasting. Plus, they wanted to charge us $4.00 extra for bread (despite ordering two entrees). We both waited anxiously for many hours afterward wondering if we would have food poisoning. All in all, this lunch was a disaster in every respect. I will give a new restaurant a break in the beginning with the service (however, the servers should have at least basic training re service and the menu) but for filth and absolutely horrible food, there is no excuse. All the chef, owner or manager had to do was taste the food and they would have known that it should never be served to customers. What is wrong with these people? The Napa Valley has many wonderful restaurants in almost every price range. How this restaurant can possibly hope to be successful is beyond me. Once a new restaurantstsrts off poorly, it is very difficult to oversome particularly in a small sophisticated dining community. If the owner can't figure it out on his own, he should call Gordon Ramsey or Robert Irvine for help - IMMEDIATELY! Needless to say, we will never return and waste our time and money.
Tom Davidson October 13, 2012 at 07:57 PM
We went there last night. Service was very good. Walked up and were seated right away, but we went around 6pm. I made a bad choice for food, but I'm sure it would have been good if I'd chosen better. Restrooms were just OK, but it was early. I wouldn't avoid it.


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