Paul Franson, Taste of the Valley: Bob Mondavi's vision for the Oxbow realized – Napa Valley Register

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Margrit and Robert Mondavi in the kitchen preparing food in their home in 2001.
Paul Franson
When the Napa flood project was approved by voters more than 25 years ago, Bob Mondavi envisioned a renaissance in the Oxbow district, then filled will modest homes long occupied by Italian-American families.
To jumpstart the development, he and Margrit donated $20 million to build what became Copia and were also founding donors for the Oxbow School across the river.
It took a while for a lot more to happen thanks to 9/11, a recession, the slow pace of completion of the flood project, and, more recently, earthquakes, fires and pestilence, but his vision is certainly being realized.
The Oxbow District has become as big an attraction as downtown Napa across the First Street Bridge, and there’s more to come.
As would be expected for a food-focused center with more than 20 vendors, changes are constant and normal at the Oxbow Public Market. Of late, however, there have been some interesting moves within the market, not just in and out.
It started with Vineyard 29’s Cru tasting room’s move to First Street Napa, opening up its space in the large metal building at the northwest corner on McKinstry.
Fieldwork Brewing Company’s taproom moved out of the main market into that larger space along the Oxbow Commons.
In addition to getting a larger space, it also now offers foods, though you’re still welcome to bring your own from elsewhere in the market.
With space opening inside the main hall, Christopher and Martina Kostow of Charter Oak and Meadowood signed up to bring the “Jew-ish” Loveski deli there.
We’re all curious about how Jewish and how Jew-ish the famed chef of the three Michelin starred Restaurant at Meadowood will make it, but he promises at least some authenticity.
Loveski, by the way, was his family’s name before it somehow was changed in the immigration process (My name used to have two “s’s” in it in the Swedish fashion, in fact.)
They’re expecting it to open next month.
Last fall, Kitchen Door left its semi-separate space off the main market hall and is expected to open in First Street Napa in the old visitor center across from Compline soon.
That left an opening for Catherine Berger’s C Casa Taqueria to take over that space for a full cantina. It’s still a few months away, however.
The market hasn’t announced who will take the present C Casa booth yet.
Two other interesting changes are that Kara of Kara’s Cupcakes split her space to squeeze in rosé-focused Bar Lucia while 5 Dot Ranch went the other way, taking over the adjacent space formerly occupied by Three Twins Ice Cream and adding offerings besides eats (including ice cream and pastries) as Milestone Provisions.
I should also give a shout to the only non-food or beverage vendor in the Oxbow Public Market, Napa Bookmine, but even it sells lots of cookbooks, I suspect.
A lot has been happening in the Oxbow District outside the Oxbow Public market, too:
Napario is open on the Napa River a block south of the market. It’s a large garden, home furnishings, and clothing store combined with an event space with both well-ventilated inside room and a patio along the river.
Eventually, they hope to have both a café with coffee and food as well as wine tasting in the space. It’s at 943 River St. They’ll be having a grand opening and Valentine’s party on Feb. 12.
The expansion of the nearby Studio at Feast It Forward into the adjacent space now called The Yard suggests a carnival as much as anything, but the stage and various structures are intended for events.
They’ve already hosted quite a few for local politicians and others. Expect the area to be jumping as the weather (and Covid) improves. So much happens there, and so quickly, that it’s a big challenge to track it, but you can sign up for their newsletter at and follow Feast It Forward on Facebook.
Last week, I talked about all the attractions at Copia. In addition, the South Garden across First Street is supposed to become Oxbow Yard with a microbrewery and event space, but not much seems to be happening there at this point. If and when it does, parking in the area will become hopeless, I fear.
Speaking of hotels, one is proposed at the corner of First and Soscol and extending over the Wine Train tracks!
And the Wine Train’s plans to replace the existing depot with a hotel (and depot) is still moving forward, just slowly like everything else these days.
The same is true of the extension of the Westin south into the open space.
That sounds like a lot of hotels. We’ll see how many get built.
Finally, a sad note. The owners of Ca’ Momi Oesteria have closed, citing, “economic downturns, earthquakes, fires, unreal labor shortages, and a pandemic.”
They started with a pizzeria in the Oxbow Public Market, then graduated to their own space on First Street in Napa. 
Offering many authentic Italian specialties from various parts of Italy including the owners’ home near Venice, it was one of my favorite restaurants. Let’s hope it’s soon replaced.
Paul Franson publishes a weekly newsletter NapaLife. Request a copy from [email protected].
With our weekly newsletter packed with the latest in everything food.
The owners of Ca’ Momi Osteria have announced via Facebook that they have permanently closed their restaurant in downtown Napa.

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Margrit and Robert Mondavi in the kitchen preparing food in their home in 2001.
Paul Franson
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