After NapaSport opened its doors in south Napa in March, I’ve visited several times, each time noting that its welcoming feel has made it a daily spot for a number of guests; the bar is always at least half full no matter what time of the day, early lunch, afternoon or dinner time.
Of course, the new restaurant is more than just a sports bar: it also has a fine dining area, a private dining room, and take-out window; and with the opening of the outside patio, it seems to me that NapaSport is well on its way to becoming a Napa favorite.
The variety of clientele ranges from wine industry and hospitality folks to sports fans and foodies. Talking to a number of diners, I’ve found the average guest has established a favorite or two items on the food and beverage menu.
Owners Michael and Krista Galyen can be spotted on a daily basis greeting visitors and explaining the restaurant’s concept to first-time dinners. By their side are a handful of industry professionals including Steve Middler, a familiar face throughout the Napa Valley and San Francisco who made a name for himself at a handful of well-known eateries including Morimoto Napa, the Kimpton Group and Bottega in Yountville.
Also on the management side is James Crane, who was part of the Fieldwork Brewery Team at the Oxbow and Craig Rekhdal who’s cut his teeth at a some local popular spots like Bistro Don Giovanni, Bottega and most recently Basalt.
On the kitchen side Chef Liz Strole is working on new dishes. Last time I stopped by, she had me try a decadent lobster macaroni and cheese that showed a balance between the creamy rich textures and pieces of lobster; it is making its menu debut shortly. I hear potato skins are also on the horizon.
“The atmosphere is quite varied. We have a good amount of families, winery teams and industry support,” Michael Galyen said.
“Large groups is an area that is starting to see growth as we evolve. Guests are starting to realize the potential and recognize the value and quality of our restaurant,” he added.
The team takes great pride in listening to the locals and evolving the menus as they go. Proof of this is the the beer list, which is now featuring Mare Island Brewery and Sonoma Springs on tap, aiming for a strong local presence.
The NapaSport Burger ($16) has become a staple creating a buzz and a lot of repeat orders; however it was not easy to master, according to Galyen, who said the bun took several tries until it got to what it is today. Aside from the bun, the meat consists of ground “Omaha prime,” Michael says with a proud grin.
Another customer favorite is the steak program. “Guests are pleasantly surprised when they see the caliber of our steak by the ounce proposition,” Galyen said. “We serve high quality cuts including American Wagyu.”
Luckily for the health conscious, there is a variety of options that include salads and vegetables such as the Hummus Trio ($12), which features house made hummus in three styles with a range of crudités and pita bread. The result is quite the plating with a plethora of colors and textures — and no guilt.
In my experience, one can’t get enough boneless chicken wings, ($12). Perfectly crisp, they come in two presentations, Teriyaki and Buffalo. The latter packs a punch and is highly addictive.
Other favorites of mine include the Grilled Prawn Cocktail ($15) served with a deconstructed guacamole, it delivers a range of flavors and textures from charred to sweet and creamy layers of the avocado.
On the sweet side definitely some not-to-be missed items include the Mud Pie, (which has become a signature), the Cocolate Mint Rice Krispies and the pie of the day made by Michael’s mom, Linda. Pies are on a rotating platform that includes a spot-on blueberry pie and, if you’re lucky, you can catch the lemon curd pie which is just delightful.
On the beverage side, an emphasis on Napa Valley wines is available by the glass and throughout the list. There are a few favorites on my world, the Hansell ‘Sabella’ Chardonnay offered on the bottle list delivers a serious and expressive wine at a value hard to find.
On the cocktail list, some of the most popular concoctions include the Bruce Lee Matcha green tea-infused vodka served with a ginger simple syrup, ginger beer and turmeric bitters garnished with a visually pleasing long cucumber slice wrapped around the glass — sure makes for a healthy and easy to drink beverage.
The Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage offers a richer profile. Bacon-infused rye whiskey, Amaro Averna and house-made chili bitters offers a memorable experience with a long lasting zing from the unusual ingredients. It’s served with a maple glazed bacon chip that satisfies a ‘savage’ craving.
Due to the present excitement of the NBA playoffs and the adventurous nature, the ‘Stephen Curry’ cocktail is a must have; made with vodka, blueberry Shrub, Jozen Uonoma Junmai Sake from Niigata, Japan, it is visually appealing and thirst quenching.
A peculiar aspect of this eatery is the multifaceted dining experience, guests can opt for a casual fine dining experience in the main room with an elegant tone away from the visual stimulation or the bar side with televisions all around playing sports all day.
The recently unveiled Happy Hour is from 2:30 to 6 p.m. everyday, when everything is priced below $10, including bar snacks, beer, wine, cocktails and spirits.
The patio offers a different experience with roughly 40 seats, shared activity zone and plans to include live music on weekends. It’s an option to take advantage of the weather complimented by a caressing South Napa breeze.
Another aspect of NapaSport is the to-go window. “We feature a daily dinner prepared and ready to enjoy with the family at home,” Galyen said. “Options are all very different and they all have a following but the most popular, hands down, are Turkey Thursday and Ribs Friday.”
There is a generous serving presented for $20 a person but certainly shareable. The hours for take out are until 2:30 for lunch every day, 5 to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 5 to 11 p.m. on weekends.
When asked about the parking, which is an inevitable concern for all due to the movie theater, restaurants, hotel and gym, Galyen said he is taking care of the aspect with complimentary valet parking for all NapaSport diners on Friday and Saturday, which is when the highest demand for a precious parking spot occurs.
There is overall a consensus that NapaSport is a great addition to the Napa Valley landscape with its varied experience options for a date night, business meeting, birthday, game day and casual occasions.
Worth noting the hours of operation are from 11 a.m. through 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends. Out of those hours from 5 p.m. on the main dining room is open. What if your favorite team is playing? Rest assured NapaSport will be open as long as the game takes.
NapaSport is at 145 Gasser Drive, Napa. The menu and other information can be found at napasport.restaurant. For reservations, call 707-927-5956; take-out, 707-266-1216; and events 707-927-3428.
NapaSport Shrimp Cocktail
4 U-10 shrimp, peeled (except for tail) and deveined
1 lime wedge
1 slice red onion
3 cherry tomatoes
3 oz. cocktail sauce
1 sprig cilantro
Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and grill until cooked through. Lightly oil the lime wedge, avocado, and red onion, and season with salt and pepper. Grill until lightly charred. Dice the cherry tomatoes into quarters and dice the red onion and avocado. Gently toss everything together. Spoon the cocktail sauce into a bowl and put the avocado/tomato mixture on top. Pick the cilantro leaves off the stems and place the leaves on top of the tomato mixture. Dip the shrimp in and eat.
1 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tsp. prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. NapaSport Hot Sauce
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
NapaSport Hot Sauce
1 lb. red Fresno chilies
6 cloves garlic
2 cups rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 red bell pepper
Cut the stems off the red fresnos and rough chop the chilis. Take the seeds out of the red bell pepper and discard them. Rough chop half the red bell pepper and add to the red fresnos. Put all ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce head to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour. Blend everything in a blender and strain it through a fine mesh strainer.