Bistro Don Giovanni

This isn’t a story about Ubuntu. But it starts there, on a very hot, very sticky Napa afternoon not so long ago–in fact last Friday. The story opens with BiteClub standing a the dark, all but empty restaurant wondering…um…exactly what happened to the breakfast and lunch service scheduled to start last week.

No dice. Maybe in a few weeks, they said. Maybe not. And so go restaurant openings.

Which wouldn’t be a total tragedy but for the mouthwatering tales of fig pizza and Epoisse lavished on me by a girlfriend who’d eaten there just last night. Fig pizza. Epoisse. Say no more. “But I just kept thinking,” she lamented, “that fig pizza would have been so much better with a little prosciutto on it.”

Because, really, what isn’t? But BiteClub regrets to inform readers that–at least on the opening menu at Ubuntu–“vegetable-inspired meals-to be enjoyed by both omnivores and herbivores” translate as vegetarian/vegan. No ham. No bacon. No prosciuitto. And on that hot afternoon, no lunch.

Cursing this second strike-out at the Napa newcomer, I called in my late-afternoon safety–the one valley spot that would definitely be open, definitely be packed and almost certainly have pizza (fig or not) to console my bruised karma: Bistro Don Giovanni.

Double-parked limos and cell-phone-yacking wine barons (this is crush after all) along the sidewalk belie the fact that Don Giovanni is, in fact, a pretty casual spot. It’s Napa’s hang-out–where everyone from the mommy-tracked to the fast-tracked rub elbows and chow on house-made focaccia, strawberry lemonade, bistro burgers and rustic pastas.

Around since 1993, the restaurant (owned by Donna and Giovanni Scala) has always fallen a bit below the radar of tourists despite having amazing patios, an impressive wine list and consistently impressive Cal-Ital (heavy on the Ital) dishes like carpaccio, lamb meatballs, lemon-cream ravioli and roasted chicken. Call it a blessing, though you’ll often have to wade through locals crammed like sardines around the bar to get to your table. You’ll live.

And alas, there on the menu was my edible Holy Grail (at least for today): A wood-fired fig pizza with gorgonzola, caramelized onions and, you guessed it, prosciutto. Ciao bella. Crispy, thin, smoky and savory with fresh slices of sweet fig. All the better with a crisp glass of rose and worth every bit of $14, mi amore.

Who needs karma? Just add prosciutto.

Bistro Don Giovanni, 4110 Howard Lane, Napa, 707.224.1090.