Food GPS

The City of Napa, which doubles as the county seat, often gets second billing to Yountville, a smaller city that’s ground zero for The Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, along with talented chefs like Richard Reddington and Michael Chiarello. However, restaurants like Torc are helping to make south county even more formidable. Chef Sean O’Toole, a Massachusetts native who previously cooked at high-profile restaurants like Cotogna and Quince in San Francisco, and Cafe Boulud and Tabla in New York, has his own culinary showcase. I squeezed in two meals at Torc during my visit to Napa for the wine-focused Bud Break Boot Camp, and every dish hit the mark, but none so squarely as the Milk Chocolate Caramel Bar ($9).

When I spoke with O’Toole after brunch, he preached layered textures and ingredients, and they were certainly in effect for this standout dessert. The bar consisted of four layers: crispy feuilletine, fluffy sunflower mousse, milk chocolate mousse, and chocolate caramel ganache. Coconut foam, chocolate snow and candied sunflower seeds capped the bar. Decorative chocolate sauce graced the plate, along with creamy quenelle of toasted sunflower ice cream.

The Examiner

Excuse the alphabet soup but TORC in Napa is the latest and hottest restaurant on the Napa scene. Only open for a few weeks, Chef Sean O'Toole's latest endeavor is quickly capturing the hearts and palates of Napa locals! OMG (Oh my God!) is clearly in order for this well situated and welcoming eatery. One would be well advised to get in before it explodes and it takes weeks to get a reservation. TORC is a reference to wild boar, a send up to Sean'sGaelic heritage where wild boar represents feasts and hospitality. In a phrase - rustic wine country chic!

Napa Valley Register

Napa welcomes a new restaurant to its downtown food and wine roster next week when chef Sean O’Toole returns with a contemporary American eatery in the space that once housed Ubuntu. While it is not his first restaurant, it is the first culinary operation where he is not only executive chef but also proprietor. A few years ago, O’Toole crafted the menus for the restaurant in Yountville’s Bardessono hotel, a post he held for two years.

Urban Daddy

Your remaining weekends in 2013 are filling up fast, and there’s one unchecked resolution for the year:
“Eat heritage pork with cheddar grits on the hallowed grounds of an old yoga studio.”
Close call. Really came down to the wire there.


There is new life in the former Ubuntu restaurant and yoga studio in Napa, which has been closed for two years. Chef Sean O'Toole will open a contemporary American restaurant called TORC at 1140 Main Street on November 25. Opening dishes include Hudson Ranch heritage pork with cheddar grits, collard greens and mustard sauce, housemade strozzapreti with pecorino Romano, tellicherry pepper and dino kale and a roasted chicken for two with black spice, coconut rice and spicy bok choy. It will be the first eatery for O'Toole, whose resume includes stints at Quince andBardessono.


Dinner at the recently opened Torc was merely a couple of minutes away, and it was such a pleasure to be back in the beautiful Ubuntu space. The place was hopping. Chef-owner Sean O’Toole is totally rocking some great flavors on this menu—he borrows from an international pantry, with the can’t-miss sweet potato pakoras keeping company with his unique pasta dishes (like housemade bucatini in a wild boar ragù with cocoa and hit of lime), and a stellar roasted chicken for two that took a trip all over Asia. Desserts by Elizabeth Gentry will rock your world (don’t hold back here). I’ll be writing about this one more soon, but I will say I had a twinge of jealousy we don’t have this restaurant in SF

SF Eater

The former Ubuntu space in Napa has returned to the culinary scene in the form ofTorc, a contemporary American restaurant from chef/proprietor Sean O'Toole. It's a labor of love for the chef, who sharpened his skills in the kitchens of QuinceCotognaBardessono, and the Mina Group restaurants before opening this, his first solo project. The restaurant is named after the Gaelic word for "boar," which appears on O'Toole's family coat of arms, and while the food won't be Gaelic-inspired, O'Toole sees the motif as a symbol of a lively and hospitable dining experience.