Famed Napa Valley chef Christopher Kostow is reviving a beloved Italian joint in Yountville after it closed last year.
This spring, Kostow and his wife, Martina, will reopen Ciccio, a longtime local’s hot spot known for its wood-fired pizzas and extensive Negroni menu.
The takeover will expand Kostow’s Wine Country empire to four restaurants, including the Charter Oak in St. Helena and Loveski, the modern Jewish deli that opened at Napa’s Oxbow Public Market in 2022. The three-Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood has been closed since it was destroyed in the 2020 Glass Fire.
The Napa Valley Register first reported the transition of Ciccio (6770 Washington St., Yountville), which opened in 2012 and remains under the ownership of local vintner Frank Altamura. The restaurant was always a bit of a local’s secret; the bold white letters that spell “Market” on the red, old-timey building’s facade often misled visitors. “Market” is an homage to the building’s original purpose as an Italian market built in 1916. Former San Francisco Restaurant Critic Michael Bauer once wrote that Ciccio had “some of the best pizza in Northern California.”
The restaurant had a no-reservations policy, which didn’t deter patrons from enduring long waits to get a table inside the warm, intimate and lively space. While waiting, they’d sip a Negroni at the bar, or walk next door to the popular dive bar Pancha’s, one of the last Wine Country establishments to permit smoking indoors. (The dilapidated-looking bar closed during the pandemic.)
Ciccio was a go-to for Kostow and his family over the years; in a 2015 Vogue article, he called it his favorite restaurant. “The space always felt like the perfect intersection of locals and visitors. It just felt like a gem,” he told The Chronicle. “It had this feeling like you just found the right spot.”
It took a while for Ciccio to reopen after the COVID-19 shutdowns, and when it did, the owners struggled to find staff and operated with limited hours. After it closed in 2022, Kostow approached Altamura about future plans for the space. The initial idea was to turn it into a new concept, but Kostow said he “really came to understand how much Ciccio meant to (Napa Valley) at large.”
Kostow plans to take reservations, but will keep the style of Ciccio’s Cal-Italian fare through pizzas, handmade pastas and other Italian specialties. “It never felt chef-y, and that’s really important,” he said. “It needs to feel simple, product-focused, humble and not overly complicated.” The Kostows will source fresh ingredients from the same gardens used for the Charter Oak and Meadowood.
As for design, Kostow said he’s going to “lean into” the mid-century, sports-car theme that is already in place. For example, Ciccio’s logo features an orange racing stripe, and there’s an Italian vintage car poster hanging inside. “The goal is when people walk in, there’s a sense of familiarity, “ he said, “but it also feels a little refreshed.”
Ciccio. Opening late spring 2023. 6770 Washington St., Yountville. instagram.com/ciccio_napavalley.
Reach Jess Lander: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @jesslander
News Source: https://www.sfchronicle.com/food/restaurants/article/ciccio-napa-reopening-17836479.php