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“Very special--you'll be glad you made the drive”
Review of Cucina Italiana

Cucina Italiana
Ranked #94 of 289 Restaurants in Napa
Price range: $8 - $30
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Local cuisine, Special occasions, Business meetings, Families with children
Dining options: Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, Reservations, Takeout
Description: Follow us on Facebook: Cucina Italiana at Lake Berryessa Hours are WEDNESDAY,THURSDAY,FRIDAY, SATURDAY & SUNDAY 11:30am to 9:00 pm Bocce & Patio is open
Reviewed June 8, 2012

We stumbled across Cucina Italiana while researching things to see and do in the Lake Berryessa area. The rave reviews this restaurant got piqued our curiosity, so we allowed enough time on a recent trip to the Napa Valley to make a side-trip to the lake. And are we glad we did!

Cucina Italiana is located at a wide spot in the road known as Spanish Flat, on the southwest side of Lake Berryessa (alas, no lake frontage or view) about an hour from downtown Napa. You reach it by way of a narrow, twisty road that snakes through the scenic canyons surrounding the lake. We went there for a weekday lunch--I'm not sure we would want to travel that road after dark or in bad weather, but understand that many people do. What you find when you get there is a tiny café with a charming, no-frills ambiance. A small arbored patio and bocce court adjoins the building, which we heard was once a gas station garage--that explains the concrete floor. Vintage music from the 40s and 50s plays in the background while you enjoy a true Italian feast.

Cioppino, one of the restaurant's signature dishes, was luckily on the menu the day we went there. It was superb, and so was the eggplant and small pizza made with puff pastry rather than heavy pizza dough. The house dipping sauce for bread was the best we've ever had, prepared with premium olive oil, very old balsamic vinegar, and roasted garlic. Portions are generous, and prices are very reasonable. Bar service is limited to beer and wine, and the wine list provides a nice selection whether by bottle or glass. The menu includes so many creative variations on traditional Italian food that we can't wait to go back and try them. Chef Stefano Gusberti, a veteran of gourmet restaurants in Los Angeles and San Francisco, personally visits every table and delights in describing the ingredients and method of cooking whatever you order.

We've eaten at many fine restaurants in the Napa area over the years, and the food at this little bistro can hold its own against the best of them. And that's saying something.

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1  Thank roadmaid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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35 - 39 of 83 reviews

Reviewed April 27, 2012

My smartphone gps took us on a long scenic route through many vineyards on the Silverado Trail but it seemed to me this was not as direct a route as the one we used to get back to our resort in Napa. This small restaurant is listed with a Napa address but it was about an hour's drive north of where we were staying so I think it's safe to say that if you stay in Napa proper you will have a healthy drive ahead of you. That said, the roads get winding and the going gets slow but quite picturesque. The garlic and vinegar dip was a nice way to start off our meal, seemed like I couldn't get enough of that with the crisp bread. I ordered the vegetarian pasta dish which was quite good with a portion so large that I wasn't able to finish it. Through the course of our meal we were serenaded by two older gentlemen singing traditional Irish songs (!). We were seated right next to the restaurant entrance, close to these fellows, and I think a location further away might have been better for my digestion! All in all a worthy dinner, just be prepared for a long, slow drive up.

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2  Thank S E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 29, 2012

We have had several dinners at this fantastic restaurant. I am very late in posting this review but better late than never. My wife and I have been very fortunate to travel to Italy several times. The one thing we have always missed is the true italian dining experience. Well our first time at Cucina Italian changed all that. Stefano is an unbelievable chef. When he completes the meal he usually comes out to great you to make sure it is everything you expected. They also serve a fantastic brunch as well. I do wish they were open more days during the week -so I could visit more frequently.

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1  Thank trying2go
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Reviewed March 22, 2012

We've been going to this restaurant for as long as we can remember. Great to see it getting so many great reviews and accolades here. Extensive wine list, decadent desserts and wonderful pasta and main dishes. The Cioppino, when available, is terrific to share or when you're really hungry. The Staff, especially Sharyn, are very friendly and knowledgeable, and Stefano, the Chef, is one of a kind! Try not to eat too much of the bread, 'cause the portions will fill you. But leftovers are a welcome lunch for tomorrow, as long as no one in your household gets to it first :) I recommend everything. But the Carpaccio is one of our must haves when we dine. Definitely worth the drive. A hidden gem. Not bad for a former gas station!!

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2  Thank PeteyMom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 11, 2012

Situated in a run down car park, the location couldn't be less promising. Go inside, and the food is sensational. Service is super friendly, and prices reasonable. The wine list is local and VERY reasonable

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2  Thank Rowbagsdahab
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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