Sunday, January 9, 2011

Genova Delicatessen

There is a local deli which my girlfriend was very excited to discover just a couple blocks from our Napa apartment we moved into a few years ago: Genova Delicatessen.

Genova Delicatessen is a small, local (SF Bay Area) chain of "old-school" family-owned Italian delis. The first one was founded in Oakland in 1926 and eventually taken over in the 50's by Dominic De Vicenzi, who worked there and married the owner's daughter. Since then, another Genova deli was opened in Walnut Creek and run by Dominic's nephew, but there was some sort of family falling-out... so even though the two

My girlfriend knows about this deli because it has been a favorite of her family's since she was a child, growing up right between Oakland and Walnut Creek. The general consensus is that the original (Oakland) one is better than the Walnut Creek one... which is good news for us in Napa, because the owner of the Oakland location is the same owner who owns the Napa one here on Trancas Street, located in an inconscpicuous location in the Northwood Shopping Center which also contains a Lucky's grocery store, a Starbucks, and a CVS.

From the outside, it is unassuming and seems basic enough. And, indeed, that's the goal here -- straightforward deli and provisions, specializing in sandwiches and Italian food. But when you go inside, it's not a "typical" deli because of that slant -- there is a small marketplace of imported Italian foodstuffs; there is a side freezer/refrigerator containing Genova's own frozen pastas as well as cold beverages (such as beers from some of the local breweries); there is a small corner coffee bar; across from that is a corner of shelves stocked with both local Napa wines and Italian wines; and the rest of the space is the main attraction, the deli counter. The prices are not cheap, but not expensive -- reasonable as far as delis go ($7-$8 per sandwich, about $6/pound for hot pastas or anitpasti like pepper shooters, marinated mushrooms or olives, and various other vegetables and salads).

One thing you are bound to notice if you come to Genova at around lunch time on any day is this: it is popular! I'd like to think many of the people are tourists, but I know that can't possibly be true -- it's a little off the beaten wine-tasting path. Chances are that almost all of the patrons are locals, standing around waiting for their turn to order (when you show up, you take a number and there is almost always about a 15-20 minute wait. Hey, when food is good... word gets around! And, obviously, they keep their customers coming back...)

Today I ordered a typical meal for us when we visit (which is not frequent -- as affordable as it is, it is still way more economical to make our lunches at home): a sandwich on rosemary roll (they are big enough to share if you get some sides), a pint of homemade cheese tortellini in spinach pasta and pesto sauce (warning: this is rich and indulgent!), a fried artichoke ball, and a cannoli for dessert. They have a sit-down eating section which consists of some small tables in the corner of the room, but it is often crowded and I decided to take this lunch to-go and have it in the comfort of my own home. But another good option is to take it to-go for a picnic at one of the vineyards! Last time I picked some up, I took it straight to the site of our first wine-tasting, Judd's Hill winery (a few minutes north up Silverado Trail), and ate it at one of their outdoor tables, paired with some zinfandel.

In short, this would be a great place to stop if you want to grab a nice picnic meal to take to one of the vineyards or a casual-but-homestyle Italian lunch without the pretense or cost that exists in most of Napa.

No comments:

Post a Comment