By Linda Bausch
When Mike Ali Musa, a native of Nazareth, opened the doors to Napa’s Small World Restaurant almost three decades ago, it came as a great and pleasant surprise how quickly the casual café would become the locals’ favorite Mediterranean restaurant. Featuring an eclectic menu selection, breakfast lunch and dinner options cross continents and cultures—as described on their home page—they serve “Foods from Nazareth and Around the World.”
The Ali Musa family had been in the restaurant business for generations before immigrating to America, and Napa is lucky to have the tradition continue here. The name alone denotes the obvious; everyone is welcome. Small World provides nourishing food, freshly made with loving hands. Mike nourishes our inner-spirit with humble signage—a gentle reminder to all that the Holy Land and the entire world are in dire need of Peace.
An Inviting Interior
Rich aromas of warm and savory Middle-Eastern spices beckon hungry locals-in-the-know or lucky visitors who find themselves passing by the colorful, Coombs Street storefront. Indoors, the atmosphere is set by the eye-catching murals of the Old World which were painted long ago by two, beloved local artists. Showing pride of community, and a connection with the youth of Napa Valley, on the center wall, numerous plaques show the happy faces of young sports teams sponsored by Small World throughout many years.
Whetting the Appetite
A bounty of vibrant vegetables are chopped first thing each morning and displayed, up-front-and-center, to make for speedy service on the line, and more importantly, to visually delight each customer in the queue. The cucumbers, onions, peppers, tomatoes cannot help but catch our eye. Mike and the crew work quickly in the well-organized kitchen, which has been optimized to handle the heavy volume of a busy tourist town.
Keeping Things Moving
The front-of-the-house staff keeps things in order as everyone’s needs are met. There’s much to boast about here, as well. This past year, Small World Restaurant and the staff were recipients of well-deserved local awards. Napa Downtown Association held its annual Best Damn Burger Contest which has a line item to select the best local restaurant server—you guessed it—Rico Gramlich, who is well into his second decade at the restaurant, was the proud winner of that title for 2023. In addition, the Napa Valley Register awarded the restaurant with Napa Valley’s Finest ’23 Winner—Best Quick Lunch Award.
The space is always immaculate and kept tidy, which is appreciated in the self-service atmosphere. Guests order their meal at the counter upon arrival, and also pay there when they leave. Beverages and flatware are easily accessible. Once orders are placed, table service is quick and efficient—by numbers. Sauces and condiments are brought to the table before your meal arrives, as the experienced staff looks ahead.
Dining at Small World since a year or two after it opened, it is fair to say that I have ‘eaten the menu’ pretty much from top to bottom, being pleased with my meal every single time. The wide variety of items ensures that Small World is a great pick for a group; there is something to meet everyone’s taste and desires . . . vegan, vegetarian, and those who enjoy meat as well.
Starting the Day
Open Monday through Saturday at nine each morning, breakfast items are available until 11:30am.
Listing a few selections here, you see the descriptions are mouth-watering.
The three-egg omelettes are $14.50.
Greek Omelette —
fresh mint, onion, mushrooms, feta cheese and seasoning
Vegetarian Omelette —
mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, zucchini and onion
Downtown Omelette —
Polish sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, jack and cheddar cheese
Passport Omelette —
olives, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, lamb gyro meat, feta cheese
Breakfast Burrito — $13.99 Three scrambled eggs in a pita, jack
and cheddar cheese — $10.99
Bagel and Cream Cheese — $5.50
add an Egg and Cheese — $10.99
Mid-way Through the Day & Dinner
Pitas have a prominent place on the menu as a staple of Middle Eastern fare. Always warm and well-textured, vegan/vegetarian options listed . . . tender pita filled with crisp, sliced vegetables, including these choices: Original Falafel, Grilled Mushrooms, Hummus, Zucchini, Baba Ganouch and Grilled Eggplant—$13.99.
Meat Pitas include Traditional Lamb Gyro, Grilled Chicken Breast, Shawarma, Grilled Polish Sausage, Beef Gyro, Chicken Schnitzel or Chicken Kebab—$14.99. If you are hungry—add extra meat—$2.00.
Salads and Platters are created using more than generous portions of the same crisp vegetables we have been hearing about throughout and if desired, embellished with the items you see listed above in the Pita section. The Steak Salad is a particularly popular selection. Well-seasoned, tender, thinly sliced steak is piled high upon the salad. Pricing is quite reasonable and varies between $13.99 and $16.50.
Burgers made of lamb, beef, chicken or fish are always a favorite, cooked to order and served with the usual vegetable accompaniment and a choice of cheese. A warm, toasted brioche bun puts the sandwiches at the top of my list for a quick and enjoyable lunch.
Snacks and desserts are listed with price points between $2.99-$11.25. Greek Fries lead the list, Chicken Strips and Fries combined—$11.25. Generous side of French Fries are lightly battered, served hot and crisp. Following on the list are, Side of Hummus, Zucchini, Baba, Corn Dog, Side of Dolmas, Fish and Chips (one of my favorites, at $11.25), Falafel, Fresh Made Baklava ($2.99) and Empanada.
Smoothies are made with fruits and juices, $5.50. Other beverages include soft drinks, tea and coffee. Horchata, Chai Tea and Lemonade Slush are priced at $5.50. Beer is on tap and Glasses of wine are available.
The delicious, global fare, warm hospitality and constant wishes for World Peace are a few of the sure things about Napa we all have come to appreciate. It is a small world after all.
OPEN 9:00 am-7:30 pm, Monday-Saturday | Breakfast served until 11:30 am
932 Coombs Street, Napa