Clemente’s, Napa CA
For years, Zach has come to Clemente’s for awesome Italian food. Back in the day when he was as tall as a grasshopper’s knee, he would go with his Nonna (Italian grandmother) to the original restaurant in Napa to pick up malfattis and bring them back home to Martinez. The story we heard is that years ago the original owner got tired of the restaurant business, but the chef wasn’t ready to retire. He found a home in the back of a convenience store, and now provides authentic Italian food for take-out only; like the Pied Piper, we all followed him there. For dinner tonight we ordered veal scallopini and malfattis to bring back to our hotel with August’s parents.
Veal is a tough subject, even though the meat is so tender. Many people don’t eat veal due to ethical choices, but if you aren’t one of them, you will love Clemente’s version of this meal. The meat was thinly sliced with a perfect sear. It wasn’t dried out or overcooked, and you could literally cut it with a fork. The mushrooms were succulent and well sauteed, and August’s dad drank the leftover sauce, it was so good.
Do you know what gnocchi are – pasta dumplings made from potato? Then maybe you’ve heard of gnudi, which are pasta dumplings made from ricotta cheese? Just imagine a pasta dumpling made from ravioli filling! Malfattis are delicious little nuggets, invented in Napa in the 1920’s. They are paired with a red meat sauce, and no one can get enough once they try a bite. We ordered six portions to share between four people, and August wanted even more! If you’re visiting Napa and have kitchen equipment where you are lodging, stay at “home” for an evening with these instead of going out to a restaurant. Even if you’re not staying in the city, we have transported food from Clemente’s, driving over an hour back to the Bay Area, and the food is always fresh and most flavorful on arrival.