Buon Gusto Cucina Italiana

06.05.2011 - Banquet Of Life

Prepare for an incredible Italian feast when dining at Cucina Italiana.  Everything is fresh, delicious and reasonably priced.  You will enjoy generous portions of exceptional authentic Italian fare are made to order.  It is well worth a detour from the heart of Napa Valley and the drive is gorgeous.

Chef/owner Stefano Gusberti can be seen dancing around the open kitchen, always smiling and enjoying himself immensely while cooking. Stefano learned his craft at a culinary academy in Parma, Italy and worked at Rex il Ristorante in Los Angeles and Masa’s in San Francisco before opening the restaurant 7 years ago.

While perusing the menu you will be served a basket of warm baked bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil for dipping or perhaps, as in my case, drenching.  The menu is extensive for the size of this small charming restaurant.  It is complemented by a well thought out, well priced wine list.

Everything is so delizioso it is difficult to pick a favorite, however, the following standout as being truly memorable:

Spaghetti carbonara is perhaps the best we have ever eaten.

Gnocchi in a piquant tomato sauce is so light as to be ethereal.

The star of the show if there can be only one must be the Cartaccio, a linguine pasta with fresh Sea scallops, Black mussels, Manila clams, Tiger prawns, fish stock and a touch of tomato sauce.  The shellfish are cooked to perfection.

The front of the house is run by Stefano’s wife, Sharyn, who immediately makes you feel at home.  We get along famously as she is very wine savvy but more importantly humors me with copious amounts of freshly shaved Parmesan cheese.  She also makes the desserts – a heavenly gelato and a rich Tiramisu.

The restaurant is located at 4310 Knoxville Road in Spanish Flat -11 miles from the Silverado Trail.  Given its proximity to Lake Berryessa, reservations are recommended on summer weekends – 707.966.2433.

I have often remarked to friends that If Cucina Italiana was in the city of Napa I would be as wide as I am tall.

All is molto bene!