Tra Vigne Pizzeria: The New Era Of A St. Helena Staple
Tra Vigne Pizzeria has been open for almost 30 years. Located in the heart of St. Helena, across the street from uber famous Gotts Roadside and next door to Merryvale Vineyards, they’re in prime location for visitors passing through town and or staying in St. Helena ! I highly recommend making a specific trip up to taste their latest creations, because they are absolutely slaying the pizza game! After Tra Vigne Restaurant closed two years ago, Executive Chef Anthony “Nash” Cognetti came over to the pizzeria to take over the culinary program and works closely with Chef de Cuisine, Maria Nuno, daughter of David Nuno who earned his stripes as Sous Chef of Tra Vigne Restaurant for many years. She has worked for both the pizzeria and restaurant since she was 16 years old, she knows the traditional recipes and is helping to cultivate the new era of what is now Tra Vigne Pizzeria!
Having dined at the Pizzeria many times before I wasn’t sure what to expect as I was told the menu was updated and the space itself was also given a little facelift. I was so intrigued! Arriving at the restaurant we were greeted by their friendly staff and immediately noticed the new Mozzarella Al Minuto station were chefs were busy making fresh mozzarella, a nod to the classic dish that was served at Tra Vigne Restaurant for many years. We were guided to our seats on their patio to enjoy the gorgeous weather. I was surprised to see a new bocce court located just outside the patio area where diners can play bocce while they wait for their pizza !
The biggest surprises though came from the innovative menu that clearly is a nod to modern times with items like Smashed Avocado Bruschetta (haas avocado, watermelon radish, jalapeno, ricotta salata, microbasil, country rustic toast, balsamic vinegar drizzle), Lucky Shucks (wood fired oysters, fiscalini cheddar, spinach, charred chili aioli) and delicious Crispy Truffle Fries….yum!
I of course had to start with some classics, their Mozzarella Al Minuto, one of my FAVORITE dishes of all time, hand pulled mozzarella made just minutes before devouring, brought to your table and divided onto perfectly soft, yet crunchy pieces of grilled bread and drizzled with local olive oil, salt and pepper to taste….I could literally eat this every day and die happy. We also ordered their Fritto Misto (rock shrimp, calamari, fried lemons and calabrian chili aioli), which was classic and the perfect accompaniment, additionally because of the glutinous beginning we decided to order a salad to even things out (I mean I am pregnant so I have every excuse but I still need my greens!), we selected the seasonal Red Russian Kale Salad (pomegranates, red grapes, delicata squash, pepita seeds, lemon tahini dressing) and honestly, I would go back for just that and the mozzarella for lunch - so fresh and I had to share it, which next time, that’s not happening, too good to share!
Seriously guys, I was so impressed with the first course that my expectations were pretty heightened for what was to come and they knocked it out of the park! They recently changed their pizza dough and style of pizza a bit, going with smaller/thinner wood fired flat bread type pizza that most diners have gotten accustomed to in fine dining establishments, of course they still offer two sizes, so you can get that type of pizza only bigger and enough to share - total score! The dough comes from a sourdough starter used from the previous days dough to keep with the old school italian tradition, it has the perfect amount of crunch and is a wonderful vessel for the creative toppings they are cooking up. We tried the La Bamba (smoky ancho-pasilla chile sauce, chorizo, red onions, jalapenos, cilantro, queso fresco, avocado, crème fraiche), The Queens Pizza (bianco di napoli tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, EVOO, sea salt) and the Funghi (crimini, shiitake and beach mushrooms, fontina cheese and truffle oil). Honestly it was hard to pick a favorite and my dining buddy would agree, we both had some serious leftovers to enjoy!
In addition to Pizza’s they have really increased their sandwich offerings and are making homemade pasta everyday, including the Ravioli “Tra Vigne” (house made ravioli, spinach, ricotta and sage butter sauce), a classic dish they served at the restaurant that has made its way over to the Pizzeria. I even got to watch one of the line cooks preparing the days fresh ravioli by hand, you could absolutely taste how fresh they were and that sage butter sauce I could just bottle and dip bread in on the daily, so fantastic! Last but not least we were treated to their C&B Burger, sounds pretty classic, but it was anything but that, they are serving up a Creekstone Farms chuck and brisket patty with gruyere, heirloom tomato, watercress, roasted onion, special sauce on an american bun. My husband was quite pleased when half of that made its way to our kitchen for him to try as well!
Last but certainly not least we were treated to some fabulous desserts, which sadly it was so hot they melted and were consumed before any photos could commence, it was probably my fault, the lemon sorbet was honestly some of the best sorbet I have EVER had! Make sure to put Tra Vigne Pizzeria at the top of your list when selecting where to eat in Napa Valley, its worth the drive to St. Helena from Napa and for anyone in St. Helena who misses the “old pizzeria” it’s time to revisit this amazing place and realize what you are missing out on, change is GOOD people…really good! Especially in the form of pizza, homemade pasta, burgers and mozzarella made in front of your face! Oh and while your there, make sure to try some of their handcrafted cocktails….drink one for this homie who cannot drink for another 4 months! :)