Laura Cunningham, “the force that inspired the world class front-of-the-house magic for the French Laundry to compliment the wizardry of chef Thomas Keller”, will open a new Yountville restaurant called Vita named after her grandmother, Vita Morrell, who encouraged Laura to move ahead with the concept of a Sicilian, southern Italian restaurant. Jeffrey Cerciello and the team of the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group will manage the culinary side for Cunningham.
Vita will occupy the site formerly known as PJ Steak previously operated by Philippe Jeanty who still runs Bistro Jeanty here. The new 130 seat eatery will be the second largest in Yountville behind only Bottega, Michael Chiarello’s new restaurant which will seat between 169-184 when it opens sometime this fall in the V Marketplace, the old Vintage 1870.
PJ Steak was purchased last year from Jeanty by a small group of Napa Valley investors who sought to find an exceptional Italian chef for their restaurant. Cunningham expects to open Vita mid 2009 as she wants to make changes to the space.
Much of this news comes from the Yountville Sun July 3, 2008 article. This just solidifies Yountville’s dominance as the culinary capital of the Napa Valley, most likely California and probably the United States.