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Satisfying Saturdays
Prima Ristorante

92 PRIMA RISTORANTE 1552 North Main Street, Walnut Creek, California (925) 935-7780

By Steven Eliot

Back in the 1970s, during the early days of California’s rapidly growing food and wine revolution, one of my favorite local haunts for fine wines was the Walnut Creek Wine and Cheese Company, and I have remained devotees of the place as it evolved over the years into Contra Costa County’s premier Itailan restaurant, Prima Ristorante. In many ways an iconic reflection of the innovation, increasing sophistication and professionalism that has made the San Francisco Bay area one of America’s most exciting culinary communities, Prima Ristorante is today headed by Executive Chef/Owner Peter Chastain. Local seasonal and sustainably-produced ingredients are Prima’s mantra, and the restaurant’s ever-changing menu of regional Italian cuisine consistently reflects sophistication, balance and restraint.

I have found its remarkable pastas preparations flavorful without being weighty, and Prima’s delicate gnocchi are as good as any I have ever encountered. I still recall a perfectly prepared gazpacho of late- summer tomatoes and a Fava Bean Risotto that was at once both light and remarkably deep in flavor. The evening’s secondi of savory braised rabbit was the kind of accomplished and utterly delicious entrée that guarantees repeated visits. The service is impeccable, professional and informed and never intrusive, and the décor is warm, rustic and upscale all at the same time.

With hundreds of listings that range from simple, refreshing Proseccos to rare, vintage Champagnes, and from well-aged Brunello to classic clarets , Grand Cru Burgundies and hard-to-find California collectables, the outstanding wine list is in itself reason enough for a visit and is a reminder that wine has from day one been a pivotal concern and real passion for Prima. Wine director/owner and sixteen- year Prima veteran, John Rittmaster oversees the restaurant’s collection as well as Prima Vini, a full service wine store that is located just one door away and a must-visit destination for any wine lover.


The news, as reported by The

“Last week, in eastern Washington State, a ton of the Mourvedre– such as is used in Chateauneuf-du- Pape - was stolen from a vineyard in Benton County. The Mourvedre vines were picked clean of $40,000 of grapes but the Cabernet Sauvignon fruit nearby was left untouched. Mr McBride, a partner at Grand Reve Vintners, said: “They were professionals. For somebody to think “Gosh, I have just got to have that Mourvedre” takes a real wine geek.”

And it is not only human hands that the farmers have to guard against: birds, squirrels and even bears can be responsible for disappearing crops, while in South Africa, baboons caused so many problems for winemakers near Cape Town by feasting on the Sauvignon Blanc crop that “baboon monitors” had to be hired.”

CGCW Comments:

If that ton of Mourvèdre was worth $40,000, we will be a monkey’s uncle. No wonder the baboons are stealing the stuff. And that was no wine geek in any event. No “wine geek” is stealing Mourvèdre and leaving the Cabernet Sauvignon. That is just further evidence of the work of baboons.

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