The most intense national spotlight on Napa came when Ubuntu opened in 2007. This vegetarian restaurant and yoga studio was on many national best new restaurant lists. It also launched the career of Jeremy Fox, who is now at Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica, and Aaron London, who this year opened Al’s Place in the Mission, which was named by Bon Appetit magazine as this year’s best new restaurant in the United States.
After sitting empty for more than a year, the Ubuntu space was taken over two years ago by chef Sean O’Toole, who devised a meat-focused menu. In fact, Torc is the Gaelic term for boar.
The handsome interior with rock walls, high ceilings and a wood floor provides a great setting for food that includes not-to-be missed deviled eggs with pickled onions and bacon, and autumn fritto misto that now includes pumpkin blossoms, green beans and black garlic aioli. You can find something simple and satisfying, such as a tomato salad with burrata, basil and tomato vinaigrette, or more refined, such as seared foie gras with salted caramel, daikon and apples.
Main courses include a whole chicken for two, porchetta with squash blossoms and corn ragout; and short ribs with white grits and fennel tomato relish.
Not only is the meatless menu a thing of the past, but the upstairs yoga studio is now a private dining room.
1140 Main St., Napa; (707) 252-3292. www.torcnapa.com. Open for dinner Wednesday through Monday. Full bar. Main courses $17-$31.