This is the fifth post in the series titled Weekend in Sonoma + Napa. Other posts in this series include Cafe La Haye, Exploring Sonoma Plaza, Sonoma Canopy Tours – Ziplining Among the Redwood Trees, and St. Jean Cinq Cepages Release Party
We first heard about Torc from one of our food and wine loving friends, Robert Kamen, proprietor of Kamen Estate Wines. Robert has traveled the world and seeks out incredible food finds everywhere (like this unforgettable hidden find in Alba). Needless to say, we really trust his food opinion.
This past trip, he introduced us to Torc, a new American restaurant right in the heart of downtown Napa. Torc took over the space that Ubuntu (the well-known vegetarian Michelin-starred restaurant) formerly occupied. Torc means “wild bull” in Gaelic, a nod to Chef O’Toole’s Irish heritage.
The towering 30+ foot ceilings and exposed brick walls make the space feel open yet still warm and cozy at the same time. There’s a huge bar as well as an open kitchen in the back.
Chef-owner Sean O’Toole is originally from Boston yet has spent most of his culinary career on the west coast, spending time at Quince, Cotogna, and the Mina group, amongst many others, before opening Torc with his wife Cynthia. His menu showcases influences from all around the world.
On a given day, you might see Japanese hamachi crudo, Italian white Alba truffle pasta, Spanish jamon Iberico, American hush puppies, and creamy coconut basmati rice (Indian?) on the menu. At the same time, you will see a strong emphasis on ingredients from local farms. Chef O’Toole makes a point of highlighting those purveyors on the menu.
It was early fall, so heirloom tomatoes were still in season. We started out with a lovely Tomato Salad ($15). The star of the show was the gorgeous slices of tomatoes from Tenbrink Farms, a family-owned farm in Suisun Valley, California that plants over 100 varieties of tomatoes.
These came on top of a burrata cheese fonduta (almost like liquid cheese!), basil, a splash of Titi’s olive oil (from Hudson Vineyards, California), and delightfully crispy melba toast. The flavors were phenomenal. I loved both the quality of all the individual components and how well this summer-inspired dish came together.
We also had the White Crane Spring Ranch Lettuces ($13), a refreshing and light salad consisting of local greens, Arkansas black apple, pomegranate, and walnut in a buttermilk blue cheese dressing.
Our mid course was decadent but so worth it. Chef O’Toole had recently obtained some beautiful white truffles from Alba. After eating many meals in Alba during white truffle season, I am quite certain that the best ways to enjoy white truffles is to eat them with something very, very simple.
Torc’s version ($47) was perfect, with generous shavings of tartufo bianco di Alba (white Alba truffles) over hand cut Tagliatelle tossed in a butter and cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano) sauce.
It was divine, and totally took me back to that unforgettable trip in Italy.
For our main course, we enjoyed the Prime Dry-Aged New York Strip for 2 ($85), which came with Nantes carrots, Swanton Farm broccoli, macaroni gratin, and beef jus. It was good. Frankly, I don’t remember too much about the meat because my mind was still occupied with the white truffles, a tough act to follow!
We ended our meal with several desserts, including their signature and rich Dark Chocolate Marquise ($10), a dense, flourless, dark chocolate cake served with hazelnut, lace crisp, and salted caramel ice cream.
All in all, Torc is a great place to enjoy a meal while you’re in Napa. If it’s truffle season, definitely run there to try their simple pasta with white truffles. But even if it’s not, the food is still very, very good. Chef O’Toole is a talented chef, sources excellent ingredients, and provides a really enjoyable experience with the excellent service the restaurant provides.
1140 Main Street
Napa, CA 94559