Most restaurant owners toiled for others, honing their skills and working on the plan to open their own restaurant. This was true for Angele partners Bettina and Claude Rouas. Bettina started her career as a manager at The French Laundry restaurant and refined her skills as general manager of  Bistro Jeanty and Bistro Don Giovanni.

Claude Rouas opened the legendary French restaurant L’Etoile on Nob Hill in San Francisco. Less than two decades later, he again redefined haute living with world-class Auberge du Soleil, a Relais & Chateaux resort in Rutherford before opening Angele in 2002. He is also a partner of Chef Richard Reddington in the Yountville restaurant Redd.

Angele is a delightful French bistro set on the Napa riverfront in the heart of downtown. The restaurant is located in the historic 1890’s ship chandlery now known as the Hatt Building. The outside patio is one of the most pleasant places to dine in the Valley. Inside exposed beams, hardwood floors and colorful artwork evoke images of a country restaurant in Provence.

The bar is a popular spot for Happy Hour either with friends or alone. If you are by yourself

Angele Restaurant, Napa, California

there’s a rack beside the bar with newspapers and magazines for your reading pleasure. Nice touch.

Start with fried deviled eggs, with a crème fraiche mouse and pickled jalapeno or the pork belly fritters, boquerones and a lemon Champagne aioli. Our main course was a delicious braised half chicken Provencale; with nicoise olives, capers, Yukon gold potatoes and English peas. Paired with a crisp local Chardonnay, it was a particularly satisfying meal.

For dessert we chose a warm apple and walnut bread pudding, almond streusel and bourbon crème Anglaise and paired it with a Chateau Roumieu-Lacoste Sauternes.

The California/French centered wine list has interesting choices and reasonable pricing.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Any meal on the outside terrace beside the river is charming.

You’ll “feel like you’re in France” at this unique bistro in Napa known for its “terrific” takes on French country classics and “delightful” riverfront setting; add in attentive service and a “wonderful” wine list for a “not-to-be-missed” experience that’s “destination dining for locals and tourists” alike. ZAGAT