We skipped breakfast the day we lunched at Tra Vigne, the spectacular Italianate-inspired villa, which was once a Mondavi grape crushing facility. It was Thursday, but by noon, lines curled out the door. Behind hanging curing hams, strings of garlic, brilliant peppers and drying herbs, individual-sized pizzas cooked in the open, wood-burning oven.
NB Chef Michael Chiarello, who described his cooking as "robust,"
obliged our request for a "tasting lunch." We began with walnut ** bread, extra-extra virgin olive oil puddled in the dipping saucer and iced Sauvignon Blanc. Delicious appetizer-sized selections included: house-cured prosciutto and local figs on a bed of arugula; just-picked striped green tiger and golden tomatoes in olive oil, calamari sauteed with mushrooms on roasted polenta, boneless rabbit with fresh Parmesan cheese on curly pasta, and pan-fried tuna.