Change Is Afoot At the Oxbow Public Market

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oxbowmarketsign.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

The Oxbow Market is one of my favorite destinations in the Napa Valley.  It has everything a foodie could want in one convenient, comfortable, and very social marketplace.  As a local, it's rare that I stop in without spotting at least one person I know.  With the fantastic new changes in the Main Hall this autumn, the Oxbow's cult following is about to get a lot bigger.  

One of the biggest issues for people visiting the Oxbow in the evening was the early shuttering of the stores, starting around 7pm.  Starting November 17th, the Oxbow will be open every night until at least 9pm, eliminating the need to eat an early bird supper or leave the building.  "Oxbow at Nite!" aims to make the market an anytime, any day kind of scene: it's not just for Tuesdays anymore.
oxbowcheese.jpgThe Oxbow Wine & Cheese Merchants have moved from their former position in the smaller adjoining building to right there in the main hall, just opposite Hog Island on the north side.  The much cozier space still offers world-class cheeses and wines at retail, and still pours a rotating selection of interesting wines by the glass. Patrons of the attractive bar counter must pick from a smaller, charcuterie and cheese-based menu now, but they also have a view and better access to the main hall's goings-on.  As for the Merchants' former space... rumors abound, but I have on reliable authority that the next tenant will be a restaurant we're going to get very excited about.

The main hall got another big bonus this month when the designer of C Casa's sexy outdoor taco lounge stepped inside the building to transform the north seating area into an inviting and attractive public space.  Trees, artistic dividers, and lots of tables for 2-4 have replaced the huge communal tables of yore, making the area more accessible, functional, and stylish--three words you don't see together very often.

ccasescookies.jpgIn other exciting news, the internationally renowned Michelin Guide announced last month that C Casa has scored one of its coveted Bib Gourmand awards for 2011.  This designation commends restaurants with exceptional food quality at a modest price, and C Casa's recognition in this category is richly deserved.  If you haven't tried their fresh and wholesome fare yet, you are seriously missing out.  In addition to lunch and dinner daily, C Casa recently began serving breakfast every day of the week (starting at 7:30am), and added a gluten-free CocoMole cookie made with almond flour and chili to round out the all gluten-free menu. Because the cookies are made by locally beloved Annie the Baker (whose regular cookies are sold at Ritual Coffee Roasters and at Annette's), they are thick, chewy and a cookie dough lovers' dream.  707-226-7700.

camomi2.jpgNew tenant Ca'Momi Enoteca, Pizzeria, & Pasticceria opened in early October, in the former Folio Enoteca spot by the southeastern entrance to the Main Hall.  In place of the bonded winery premises, Ca'Momi partners Dario De Conti, Valentina Guolo-Migotto and Stefano Migotto have put a wood burning pizza oven, wine bar, and pastry shop to bring la vera cucina italiana to Napa.  Dario says that the pizzas on his menu--which range from classic Margherita or pear & gorgonzola to the cheeseless Marinara and earthy prosciutto with mushrooms--are all classic combinations in Italy's pizzerias.  A selection of tramezzini (Venician mini-sandwiches), grissini, and other satisfying starchy snacks for wine drinking round out the savory side of the menu, to pair with the wonderful selection of Italian and Californian wines.  The golden pastries, cookies, and tarts are pure Italy, and probably unfamiliar to most Americans.  Do not be intimidated--every one I've tasted is fantastic and freshly made by an Italian who knows what he's doing and what you should drink with every one.  You're in good hands, so throw caution to the wind and take a bite of la dolce vita.  707-25-PIZZA.

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