I love a restaurant that says what it is and is what it says. Meaning the newly-opened Atlas Social in downtown Napa is exactly that — a vibrant gastro-hub for mixing, mingling and plate-sharing in Wine Country.
And when we say social, we mean you’re destined to run into at least four people you know on the way to your communal table, where you’ll meet six more people you don’t.
It’s owned by successful local restaurateurs Michael Gyetvan and Christina Rivera (Norman Rose Tavern, Azzurro Pizzeria) and business partners Exec Chef Nick Richie and GM Pat Jeffries, and the idea behind the small plates/big flavors restaurant is to, well, be social and share. Stingy eaters? You’ve been warned.
On a recent night, where standing-room-only was a euphemistic way of saying “packed like sardines,” ordering came easy after seeing a flurry of plates land on the tables to the left and right of us. Yes to the herb-leaf fries with Meyer lemon aioli, Dungeness crab toast and charcuterie plate. Yes to ricotta dumplings with smoked mozzarella, “Angry” shrimp cocktail and beef tartare.
Yes on the braised pork belly tacos.
Nope to the twice-fried Brussels sprouts after smelling them go by our table several times. (Nice, but not tonight.) Maybe next time? The sharable platters of spice highway chicken and ale-braised beef ribs beckoned from the effusive gathering next to us.
Dagnabbit to the mini rabbit pot pie that came to a table near us as we ordered dessert. Fortunately, the chocolate budino with cherries and bee pollen more than made up for whatever else we didn’t order.
Plates range from $6 to $18, with larger platters (for a crowd) at between $34 and $42.
Of course, where napkins gather, there must be wine, and plenty of it. The list is two well-curated pages ranging from nicely priced local wines ($32) to higher end cabs (which mostly top out at around $65-70, except a couple fancier wines.)
So grab a glass, grab a seat and grab a plate and get yourself social in Napa.
Atlas Social, 1124 First St., Napa (707) 258-2583.