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