When Chef Curtis Di Fede first visited Japan nearly three years ago, he was smitten.
So much so that he’s been back nine times since then.
It also prompted him to leave his partnership with the Southern Italian restaurant Oenotri in Napa in 2014 to strike out on his own to open his own version of a Japanese izakaya, Miminashi, this summer in Napa. I had a chance to try it recently, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.
The space is moody, incredibly dim, and intimate with its substantial, block wood tables and simple wooden chairs. It makes you feel as if you have stumbled inside a special little place that only insiders know about.
That’s especially true because the entire doorway is made up of hand-carved wood. You have no clue as to what lies inside until you pull open the door to reveal one of the most dramatic ceilings I’ve ever seen. It’s made entirely of wood, pitched like a temple, soaring upwards and narrowing the higher it ascends.