A culinary celebrity in Contra Costa County, where he owns five restaurants, chef Rodney Worth wanted to get everything right at his new Napa restaurant, The Pear Southern Bistro.
So before the official opening date of Dec. 11, Worth and his new staff cooked a series of training meals in the Napa Riverfront space formerly tenanted by Tyler Florence's Rotisserie & Wine.
This "soft opening" culminated in a grand-opening party Saturday night that packed the restaurant and mingled the Napa and Danville crowds —"I have 40 people in hotel rooms," Worth said earlier in the week.
Have you tried Rodney Worth's food? How did you like it? Tell us in the comments.
The Pear's "soft opening" meals were advertised to locals by word of mouth and on the restaurant's Facebook page with staus updates like "Are you in the area? Stop by today to sample some of our limited menu! Serving until 4pm."
Angela Mancuso and Lynn Page, who work at the Napa Chamber of Commerce, lunched at The Pear Thursday.
Her fried pickles (menu price $9, with Creole mustard aoli) and meatloaf ($19) were "absolutely delicious," Mancuso said.
"The pickle had a really good batter on it; the meatloaf had veggies mixed into the meat that were really good and added a lot of depth," she continued.
"The mashed potatoes were creamy and delicious. The gravy was really good and thick," Mancuso said.
Page was just as enthusiastic about her meal, Florida blue crab/artichoke/spinach/cheese dip ($11) for an appetizer and jambalaya ("Gumbo Ya-Ya," $19) as her entrée.
Worth's food was "excellent," Page said.
Friday, sound designer and musician Paul Marotta ate a late lunch at The Pear before working the opening night of the "8 x 10" festival of 10-minute plays at the Napa Valley Playhouse.
"This is a perfect sandwich," Marotta said between bites of Worth's pulled pork sandwich topped with cole slaw ($12).
Marotta also praised the generously-sized Bishop Ranch salad ($9), which is named for a former East Bay pear ranch that was developed into the commercial property where Worth's The Peasant and the Pear restaurant is located in Danville.
The salad of organic baby greens roasted pears, candied walnut greens and Point Reyes blue cheese with balsamic vinaigrette could be a fine lunch on its own, Marotta said.
Crescent City inspiration, Napa Valley flavors
Each day during the "soft opening," Worth visited diners — who weren't charged for the food they ordered — to see how they were enjoying their meals.
New Orleans, Worth said, was his inspiration for the restaurant's Southern theme.
When he realized how the Napa restaurant's waterside setting on the Napa River reminded him of the Crescent City, Worth explained, "my mind just started going."
A music program heavy on jazz and blues matches up with a menu of substantial fare like Worth's batter-fried chicken and Belgian waffle with pear-bourbon maple syrup ($20), pear-bourbon glazed baby back ribs with smoked Gouda mac and cheese($18/26) and cabernet braised lamb shank ($27).
Worth is clearly having fun incorporating local ingredients — so far, mostly wine — into his menu: His blackened Pacific salmon with mushroom-arugula risotto and pinot noir beurre rouge ($25) used the same Ramspeck pinot that was on the wine list for $9 a glass, while the Trefethen merlot simmered into the meatloaf gravy was also available by the glass or bottle.
We can look forward to other Napa Valley ingredients making their way into the kitchen at The Pear as well: Worth has already paid a visit to Rancho Gordo's bean showroom, and said he's been getting tips to other local purveyors from longtime downtown cheg Greg Cole of Celadon and Cole's Chop House.
Vital stats: The Pear Southern Bistro, 720 Main St. (enter on the river side), Napa: 707-256-3900. Open daily.
- What Should Replace Tyler Florence's Rotisserie & Wine?
- More Southern Dining Slated for Downtown Napa as Chef Rodney Worth Takes Over Former Rotisserie & Wine
- Chef Rodney Worth to Open The Pear in Napa Dec. 11
Stay Patched in! Follow Napa Valley Patch on Twitter | Like Napa Valley Patch on Facebook | Sign up for the daily email with links to the latest news | Got something to say? Start a blog and share your views.