By 707 correspondent, Deirdre Bourdet.
La Toque’s former location in Rutherford’s Rancho Caymus Inn has finally scored a new identity as ALEX ITALIAN RESTAURANT. The restaurant takes its name from Italian-born owner Alessandro Sbrendola and his wife Alessia, who are both trained sommeliers and know a thing or two about Italian eats, too. Executive chef Nick Ritchie—formerly chef de cuisine at Bottega in Yountville—has put together a regional Italian menu with strong influences from Liguria and Emilia-Romagna, but also an unmistakable California bent. I’m intrigued by the sound of their “short-stack” of marinated apples, roasted fennel, and pecorino wrapped in pastry, and I can’t wait to try the oh-so-wintry potato-beet gnocchi in Gorgonzola walnut cream sauce. Alex is presently open Tue-Sat for lunch, Tue-Sun for dinner. 1140 Rutherford Rd. near Hwy. 29, Rutherford, 707-967-5500.
SUSHI HAKU opened last fall in an unassuming strip mall on Jefferson Street in Napa (locals: right near Comcast), filling the void left by the closure of Fujiya in the outlets earlier this year. Every town needs a solid, affordable sushi spot—but Napa especially so. Given all the overfed, overspent gourmands looking for something cheap(er) and healthy before their instant-onset gout prevents them from driving home, a place like Sushi Haku is absolutely essential. From hamachi kama and tuna tataki salad to escolar sashimi to 20 variations on tempura rolls, the place has you covered. And, just as importantly, the restaurant serves continuously all day, every day. 3206 Jefferson St. between Pueblo Ave. and Trancas St., Napa, 707-226-2996.
Last, but certainly not least, Richard Reddington’s new “Napa pizzeria” concept REDD WOOD is on track to open Thursday January 26th at Yountville’s Hotel Luca. Local interior designer Erin Martin has reworked the former Cantinetta Piero space into a contemporary wine country setting, complete with a custom-fabricated wine wall of cut metal tubing, and a “Wappo Hill”-emblazoned mailbox as an homage to the Mondavi family. The menu will be wood-fired pizzas, pastas, and seasonal selections, but the final menu items still haven’t been announced yet. In the meantime, try to make out the tiny print on the wine list in their fancy press photo. 6755 Washington St. at Pedroni St., Yountville, 707-299-5030.