The Bottom Line
This is the Los Angeles branch of the Napa Valley Grille boutique ‘franchise’ (its other locations are New Jersey and Minnesota). At once casual and upscale, the eatery brings a little Sonoma to LA through an extensive regionally targeted wine list, and thoughtful seasonal farm fresh offerings fashioned by Chef Joseph Gillard (of Mirabeau and Patina Group Kitchen fame). It’s a great place for a casual (but foodie-friendly) dining experience with good friends or a more regimented business dinner.
- Probably one of the more comprehensive selections of wines from the Napa region
- Courteous service by knowledgeable waitstaff
- Successful inventive renditions of traditional and rustic dishes
- Not too many vegetarian (or vegan) dinner selections; although lunch has a few more options
- The restaurant regularly hosts winemaker dinners, cooking classes and holiday parties.
- Every Wednesday, Chef Joseph Gillard chooses his ingredients from the farmers market.
- Happy Hour menu is available Mon.-Sat., 3-7 p.m. and 9 p.m.-12 a.m.; Sun., 3-11 p.m. This includes small dishes from $2.50-7.
- Private dining and customized menus are available on request.
- They offer a nice thorough selection of Scotches including the 18-year-old Scottish single malt Macallan.
- Brunch is served on Sundays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
- On-site or street parking are both available.
Review of Napa Valley Grille Restaurant in Westwood, Los Angeles
I wish I lived walking distance from Westwood Village, as Napa Valley Grille could easily become a neighborhood dining staple in my life. It can be tricky finding restaurants in LA that are at once unpretentious but also infuse integrity into their cuisine. Often, when seeking out serious food in this trend-conscious industry town, one finds ones self having to sacrifice courteous laid back service and ambiance. Not so with Napa Valley Grille.
The NVG experience begins after you are seated in the simply and warmly decorated (Cali-Tuscan contemporary) restaurant with its open kitchen. Diners are then initiated via a form of mini-education. Our server was extremely knowledgeable on the ins and outs of the food and wine, and he explained everything just enough to pique our interest without becoming long-winded and dry.
The wine selection, as indicated by the eatery’s namesake, focuses on Napa area vineyards (with a few rare exceptions). Bottles on offer range from the well known--Stag’s Leap, Markham, Coppola--to smaller wineries like Paoletti Estates, which makes a delicious 2008 Piccolo Cru that goes fabulously with hearty meat dishes. Your server will be able to give you some great advice on specific pairings.
The Piccolo Cru could also be matched nicely with one of my favorites on NVG’s menu, their ‘Natural Salmon.’ Accented by cauliflower puree, asparagus and red onion marmalade, it is moist but lightly seared and crispy on top to perfection. Though I am admittedly not as much of a red meat connoisseur, I wasn’t as thrilled with their rack of lamb, which had less robust flavor and suppleness than their other dishes.
Everything else I have tried has not disappointed--most notably their very special handmade pastas. My favorite offering in that category being the sweet corn ravioli with cherry tomatoes and burrata cheese.
I noticed that Chef Gillard used burrata in a couple of dishes I had (including an amuse bouche) to great effects. The lightness, blandness and airy texture of the cheese works with, for instance, prosciutto and watermelon (this taster plate an experimental but successful take on the usual melon and prosciutto snack/starter).
Selections rotate seasonally based on what is on offer at the farmers market, so there is also an element of surprise to the menu.
One of NVG’s most popular dishes, according to our server is the ‘Turkey Bolognese.’ Although it’s not normally a selection I would gravitate towards, I was pleasantly surprised by how flavorful it was with its pappardelle pasta, Shelton farms turkey and grana parmesan--a great healthy, lean option in the pastas and meat category.
Another not-to-be-missed signature dish is the 'Napa Chopped Salad.' Sweet and rich in flavor, it is made of blue cheese, farro, roasted beets, nuts and a honey-sherry vinaigrette.
Finally, be sure to save room for dessert. My recommendation: a pairing of their Merryvale Antigua Muscat de Frontignan (dessert wine) and the billowy, dreamy white chocolate mousse affogato with espresso cream and almond praline.
It’s comforting to know that one doesn't have to leave the city or the country to enjoy inventive seasonal farmers market-fresh Cal-Ital cuisine.
Napa Valley Grille
1100 Glendon Ave.
Westwood, CA 90024
Mon.-Sat., lunch, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; dinner, Mon.-Thu., 5:30-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat., 5-11 p.m., Sat., Sun., 5-9 p.m.