The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2017

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Page 42 of 124

42  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2017 S ince its inception in 2010, Oenotri has become a hotspot for Napa Valley wine country locals and tourists. Located on First Street in the city of Napa, Oenotri offers Southern Italian fare and boasts one of the most desirable Italian wine lists in the Valley. Napa Valley native Tyler Rodde, Owner and Executive Chef of Oenotri, has an infectious smile and an unparalleled passion for fresh ingredients. I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Rodde and sampling a few of his favorite dishes. Melissa Marrapese: What inspires your cooking? Tyler Rodde: I like to bring a sense of honesty to my cooking. I grew up in the North Bay, so I am committed to only using phenomenal ingredients. Where do you source vegetables for the restaurant? We have a 5.5-acre garden and farm through three locations. We also make our own olive oil. And you would describe yourself as a rustic Southern Italian restaurant? Yes, Southern Italian tends to be lighter fare and uses more olive oil and fresh vegetables. Butter is great, cream is great, but let's use fresh ingredients and cook them simply. How is it having a predominately Italian-focused wine list in Napa Valley? There was definitely some pushback at first. Our wine list was domi- nated by Italian wine, as much as 90 percent when we started. It was a little aggressive, and we were making a statement. I didn't want to get into the valley politics; I wanted to let the sommelier choose wines appropriate to the food. If you come to Napa, you can go anywhere and buy Napa wine. It's nice to have something a little bit different, and be able to see what the Old World is doing. I think it's a lot of fun for winemakers to come in and drink a lot of different wine they can't get their hands on necessarily. I have to ask . . . what is your favorite Italian grape? It's got to be Nebbiolo. And what do you envision for the future of Oenotri? I've been here for a minute, and I'd like to be here for several more. The town is changing, and it will be interesting to see how the next several years go. But, I'm excited about it. Over the course of the last seven years, Tyler has transitioned Oenotri from a small, locally-owned restaurant to a place where locals, vintners, and tourists alike can enjoy delicious pizza and pasta while taking their pick of the finest Italian wines. When I asked Tyler about his favorite dish on the menu, he grinned from ear to ear and said, "I'm in love with a dish . . . until the next one." WINE COUNTRY DINING Tyler Rodde is the Owner and Executive Chef of Oenotri in Napa Valley. Oenotri's rustic Southern Italian fare uses fresh ingredients and pairs with Old World Italian wines. A Taste of Southern Italy in Napa TYLER RODDE OF OENOTRI SERVES UP RUSTIC, FRESH FARE by Melissa Marrapese / photos by Alexander Rubin

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