Here we go again! A Few Hungry Locals are out on the town looking for restaurants that suit our tastes. Our second dining excursion took us to the North end of town to Foodshed Take Away, located on Old California Way, just off of Highway 29, at the Trancas Street exit. We’d heard about Foodshed, when it moved to the current location, but none of our group had been there yet. Spoiler alert . . . we’ll say it right here, right now––no one was disappointed with our choice of location; here’s the rundown of our experience.
As you open the door and walk into the casual seating restaurant, the air is filled with enticing aroma of a pizzeria, scents of prosciutto, pepperoni, and fresh-baked bread linger in the air. It’s the kind of place where you know everything is made from scratch. The space was very clean and tidy, tables were bussed and ready for guests. The next thing we noticed was a gleaming glass case, on one side, the shelves were filled with sweet delights no one will want to miss. We have a motto, “Life’s uncertain, eat dessert first!” The ladies made their selection then and there, lemon bars and carrot cake with thick creamy frosting and a generous sprinkling of walnuts atop.
On the other side of the case were elegantly plated salads, freshly prepared, and piled high: Caesar Salad with a traditional dressing, romaine, dino kale, grana padano cheese, and toasted breadcrumbs; a Chopped Salad made with romaine, giardiniera (an Italian relish of pickled vegetables in vinegar or oil), house-cured ham, marinated beans, jack cheese, hard-cooked egg, and tomato vinaigrette; Spinach Salad with pickled carrots, tahini dressing and pepitas. When we visited, some of the specials on the menu were a glistening pyramid of beets, piled high with strawberries, honey vinaigrette and feta cheese, and a Shaved Asparagus Salad dressed with shaved grana, lemon, olive oil, and arugula. (We have a member who eats gluten free, and when she saw this salad she had a smile from ear-to-ear.)
The staff was busy with every aspect of food preparation, stocking the coolers, and making guests feel welcome. We even watched as fresh burrata was being pulled in front of us. Our group was warmly welcomed by everyone in the restaurant. From the first person greeting us when we arrived, to the cooks in the back, everyone smiled, gave a nod and made us feel as though they were glad we stopped in. Jazz music played in the background. The large windows and high ceilings gave the room a light and spacious feeling.
A variety of packaged grab-and-go items are available for those needing to pick up a healthy meal on the run. To-go selections include: take-and-bake pizzas, sandwiches, Chicken alla Cacciatore, Beef Cannelloni, and Lasagna, and they have weekly dinner specials as well. Throughout the room are displays of hand-made pastas, sauces and condiments for sale. Beverages and wine bottles line the walls and coolers––boasting a wide drink selection to fit anyone’s desire. Soft drinks, beer, wine, and spirits are available for purchase.
We’ve got a fish head in our group, and when he saw Fried Pacific Cod on the menu he was sold. He ordered the Plate ($9.50). The breading on the cod was perfect––crispy, and golden brown––the fish inside was tender and flaky, served on a bed of arugula, and topped with a garnish of house-made dill tartar sauce, fresh giardiniera––cauliflower, celery and carrots––the plate was colorful and appetizing, he couldn’t wait to dive in. He talked about his meal the rest of the day. This dish is also offered as Hot Sandwich for a dollar more.
We wholeheartedly recommend the ‘Tascas’, aka the Hot Sandwich, which is served á la carte. The Meatball (pork) sandwich was a meal in itself; a pocket of crisp, warm bread filled with fresh mozzarella, arugula, and a tomato-fennel sauce cradled the tasty meatballs. Our favorite was the tender Balsamic Braised Pork with Citrus Slaw, the meat was so tender it melts in your mouth; both are offered as Hot Sandwiches ($9.50) or Plates ($8.50). A variety of Pizzas made for an inviting display, each available by the 6” x 6” slice, or served whole, 14”. (Prices vary.)
As we finished our meal, the server brought over the desserts the ladies picked out earlier. The Lemon Bar ($4.25) with its cookie crust base held up well to the tangy, smooth filling. The Carrot Cake couldn’t have been any better; it was fragrant, spicy, and full of texture from the carrot shreds and crisp walnuts ($4.25). The portions were generous and we had just enough room left to share. There were many dessert options, platters were filled with large Blondies, Brownies, Pistachio Almond Bars and Chocolate Chip Walnut cookies. A tall Polenta Almond Cake took center stage next to the most delicious looking Strawberry Cheesecake slices we have ever seen.
The proprietor told us everything on the menu is house-made, from the bread to the burrata, the only exceptions are a few desserts which are prepared by the Vintage High School Culinary Arts class. Meats and seafood are locally sourced, as Foodshed uses only the highest quality ingredients available.
Foodshed has daily and seasonal specials. Today’s soup was Sweet Vidalia Onion with a fava leaf pesto garnish. Minestrone soup is always on the menu, and it was the best we have ever had. The rich broth, vegetables, and beans made for a perfect starter, (Cup $5.50 and Bowl $7.75). Size options of side dishes range between, Single ($5.75), Double ($10), and Trio ($14.25). If you wanted three different items as a Trio, you could do that, or, if you love that salad so much you want three servings, you can do that too, mix and match, friends! Hosting a party soon, and don’t want to do the cooking? Ask about their custom catering menus, highlighting seasonal ingredients. Gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian items are clearly marked on the menu and in display cases.
There’s something very special behind the obvious at Foodshed. We were blown away when we learned how much they do for the community. All of Foodshed’s profits go directly to support their internship program, which provides culinary training for at-risk and aspiring cooks. Quoted from their website, “The Foodshed Internship Program is unique in providing Napa’s low-income youth and at-risk and underserved populations with work experience so that they can obtain a food handlers’ permit, work in a commercial kitchen and achieve economic self-reliance. Our teaching philosophy takes root in a practical, hands-on approach: Interns don’t just learn to prepare seasonal produce and gain knowledge of Italian culinary staples––they learn how to work as team members by “diving into” the busy work day of a professional kitchen. In fact, our business depends on it.” Foodshed is a team effort and the proof is in the pudding. Donations to the internship program may be made through the website––anyone can contribute by becoming a Sustaining Member.
The prices are budget friendly, especially for Napa! We were pleased to discover Foodshed Take Away, and we enjoyed the food while contributing to the good work of their internship program; this was a five star performance!
There is seating indoors and on the patio. Call ahead for a pick up order or, if you don’t want to drive––THEY DELIVER!
Keep an eye out for our next dining excursion, it will be sure to whet your appetite!
3385 Old California Way, Napa | 707.255.3340 | Foodshedpizza.org
Open 10am–9pm Tuesday–Saturday | 10am–8pm Sunday | Closed Mondays