The Pearl of Great Price

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By Deirdre Bourdet

The Restaurant Pearl has anchored the corner of Franklin and Pearl Streets in downtown Napa for almost fifteen years, and is much beloved by locals with a taste for internationally-inflected wine country cuisine.  The steak soft tacos, the Guerrero-style grilled corn on the cob, and anything and everything seafood on the menu have cult followings.  But as the restaurant name suggests, the oysters are the most unique and fabulous things to eat there…  and the most fabulous time to eat said oysters is in the winter, on a chilly Saturday afternoon during the Oyster Extravaganza. Instead of offering sixteen different types of oysters whose names you will never remember, Pearl offers four different preparations of the same oyster: raw on the half shell with lemongrass mignonette and a peppery cocktail sauce; roasted with sweet butter and aged balsamic vinegar “Breton style;” roasted in a zippy and delicious barbecue sauce; and, my personal favorite, “Oysters Pearl”–topped with a homemade salsa verde and just the right amount of feta cheese crumbles, ever so slightly gratineed from the oven’s heat.  Don’t be dissuaded by the cheese with this seafood–the spare amount of feta is the perfect salty, toothsome accent to the rich and tangy tomatillo salsa, and truly makes the dish.  This preparation also perfectly complements the restaurant’s signature bread, spiked with chilies and rosemary and invariably served toasty warm and fresh.  That bread is irresistible, chewy, and perfect for a warming brunch, so don’t fight the urge.  Just order something that goes well with it.

Pearl’s oysters are normally available for $11.95 per half dozen, but during the Oyster Extravaganza, they’re only $1 each.  Two dozen of a mixed assortment makes a punchy and decadent brunch, particularly when paired with the surprisingly interesting prosecco on offer for $5 per glass. If oysters don’t fill you up, get an order of tacos to crown off the afternoon.  Like everything else at Pearl, both the fish (grilled, with asian slaw and wasabi vinaigrette) and the steak (ginger marinated flank steak with salsa verde and lime cream) are fresh, homemade, and built from the finest local ingredients available. And even better, both are under $10 per order.

There are many reasons locals love Pearl.  The Oyster Extravaganza is only one of them, but I think well worth a trip.  

Pearl Restaurant,
1339 Pearl Street, Napa, 707 224 9161
Lunch & Dinner Tues-Sat; Oyster Extravaganza Saturdays from 11:30-2:00.
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