Bistro Don Giovanni - Napa


I admit it. When I have a bad meal at a restaurant, I’m not just disappointed — I’m offended. How dare a restaurant sell bad food to an innocent guest like me? It wastes food, money, and calories.

These are the thoughts that Bistro Don Giovanni brings to mind. Every dish was doused in oil and unevenly flavored. I was so offended that I didn’t even order dessert, because I care for dessert too much. Instead, Chad and I fought over the bill, volleying back and forth with “No, you shouldn’t have to pay for this meal…”

Maybe this place survives because it’s right off the highway after the town of Napa, where people who’ve just gotten to the Valley look for a place to eat; or maybe we were there on a very off day; or maybe, it’s all just a matter of taste. I prefer to use my blog as a way to share things that I like, but in a case like this, I feel like others, especially those visiting the Valley with only a few meals to enjoy, should be warned. Another warning: only one men’s room and one women’s room for the entire place. Be prepared for a line. Also, our waitress barely gave us the time of day (and I’m not usually picky about service).

Gio Martini

This is the Mintarita. Given the preparation and glass, I don’t know why it’s not called a Mintini. We also couldn’t figure out how it got onto the menu — those chopped bits of mint on top are not meant for a drink. They get stuck in your teeth and on your lips. They have bad texture in liquid. Chad said it was like drinking out of a pond. That’s why herbs should be muddled in drinks. We had no spoon to skim them off, but then the drink itself wasn’t worth drinking either. It had an unpleasantly sharp flavor combination of tequila, mint, and lime juice… even though, if properly done, I think it could work. And that lime in there is already squeezed. Is a fresh lime wedge too much to ask for?

Gio Bruschetta

My appetizer was the Bruschetta with Sonoma Duck Rillettes, Melted Leeks, and Aged Balsamic. Taste: salty olive oil and greens.

Gio olives

Chad got the Bistro Marinated Olives. We weren’t warned that they are apparently fresh marinated olives, or a variety that we’re not familiar with. They were rather water-y with a citrus and floral flavor. The floral element made Chad nauseous (admittedly, he’s sensitive to it), but I was indifferent to them — I found them bland.

Gio Pasta

My Penne Bolognese with Sonoma Duck Ragu, Aged Provolone, and Sage. Nutmeg should have been given top billing on this one, b/c it overwhelmed the whole dish. I was expecting the dish to be earthy and almost smoky from the ingredients listed, but it was nutmeg-y and unnaturally sweet. At least the provolone cut through it a little. There were sage leaves in it, but I couldn’t taste them. The duck was tender, though, except for a coupe chewy pieces. Oh, and the oil… the oil…

Gio Pizza

Chad got the Pizza Toscano Salame with Caramelized Onions, Roasted Garlic, and Cambozola. This one truly won the Bathed in Oil Award. It was dripping with it (where it wasn’t welled up in craters), and since it was so thin crusted, it looked like it was half oil in profile. And it was so sweet, I think from how the onions and garlic were prepared, and it made the cambozola so sweet, too.

That was the end of our meal. And we ran, ran, ran.

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