This year, Westwood’s Napa Valley Grille is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Fresh approaches and fresher ingredients are stewing in the kitchen, spearheaded by Executive Chef Joseph Gillard. To kick the year off on a sweet note, Gillard has prepared a romantic rustic wine country-inspired pre-fixe menu for Valentine’s Day at an extremely reasonable price: $49.

It’s more than likely you’re checking your wallet for extra cutie pie cash. You’d like to impress that special someone, whether you’re paying or going Dutch. And that’s where Napa Valley Grille connects the date-night dots. Their pre-fixe menu offers a plentiful four courses.

For starters, the amuse consists of a Mushroom Arancini Red Pepper Rouille. The first course offers a choice of Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail with Hearts of Palm Salad or Green Asparagus Soup. Treat yourself to either the Pan Seared Lake Superior White Fish with Crispy Bay Scallops and Minted English Peas or Roasted Sonoma Rack of Lamb for the main course. Finally, the dessert choices include Chocolate Truffle Cake and Rose Scented Crème Brulee.

It’s a night fit for a king and queen on a working (wo)man’s budget. The atmosphere at Napa Valley Grille manages to be open, with high ceilings and huge rooms, yet intimate. As the title implies, there’s wine aplenty, especially eye-catching is the wine cellar wall behind the bar that can be seen from either side.

As Wine Director Antonio Del Rivero explains, the eatery prides itself on being warm, friendly and neighborly. In fact, Gillard has launched the new, non-profit Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, a seasonal co-op of sorts. CSA members visit Napa Valley Grille each Wednesday and pick up their delivery of the farm’s produce, along with cooking tips and recipe cards from Gillard. Once a year, CSA “subscribers” meet at the restaurant for a celebratory dinner. Costs vary depending on the number of seasons customers sign up for, with 13-week seasons ranging from $455-$520.

As hard as it may be to believe, Napa Valley Grille isn’t just for lovers. Loners, packs of friends and sports enthusiasts congregate around its bar nightly for Happy Hour (Monday-Saturday, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m), plus Reverse Happy Hour (Monday-Saturday, 9 p.m. to midnight). The bar menu covers all the bases, with not a single dish over $7 (The most expensive appetizers being the Crispy Calamari and Grille Pizzette at $7 each.). A Natural Beef Slider or Baja Fish Taco is $2.50, and the ridiculously addicting Kobe Corn Dogs, Garlic and Herb Fries and Creamy Mac n Cheese will all set you back only $4 each. It’s a win-win situation.

Straying from the V-Day theme, Napa Valley Grille’s daily menu offers a string of outstanding meals. With fresh pasta being churned out daily, one must-try main is the Butternut Squash Tortelloni. Like butter, baby. Two other entrées that are worth the visit alone are the Colorado Lamb Shank and one of its signature dishes, Prime Tender Braised Short Rib.

The menu, recently redesigned, has a more modern flare. Accessible to vegetarians, the column that reads, “Sides,” lists Caramelized Brussels Sprouts, Red and Green Spinach, Mushroom Risotto, Sprouting Broccoli and more, so that a non-meat eater can fill up on a plate of flavorful veggies.

There are so many tasty small dishes, I couldn’t decide between the Napa Chopped Salad, Crab Cake or Hearth Roasted Clams and Mussels. The salad, with roasted beets, blue cheese, hearth nuts and toasted faro, won. Light and piquant, it was just what I needed to perk my taste buds up for the short rib.

What meal would be complete at a place with the word Napa in it without wine. Ask your waiter for recommendations, as their list is impressive. But really, no one would be the wiser if you chose a cocktail, like the Clementini (Hendrick’s Gin, fresh clementine, fresh mint), Vanilla Scented Pomegranate Mojito (vanilla bean infused 10 cane rum, pomegranate juice) or Cranberry Orange Sangria (tart cranberry and sweet orange flavors infused with cinnamon).

Better yet, combine the two with a Napa Breeze (California sparkling wine, Malibu rum, pineapple juice, grenadine).



For more information, call (310) 824-3322 or visit napavalleygrille.com.