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NYC Chef Matthew Lightner Headed to Napa, Taking Over The Thomas and Fagiani's Bar

The highly acclaimed former chef of Atera will debut Ninebark in August.

The dining room at The Thomas.
The dining room at The Thomas.
Yelp/Crumbs I.

Three years after the debut of Napa's The Thomas and Fagiani's Bar, the high-profile spot will undergo another transformation. Per Inside ScoopAvroKO, the hospitality group behind the concept, has recruited two-Michelin starred chef Matthew Lightner to helm the three-story restaurant, which will be known as NINEBARK.

The chef, formerly of New York's Atera, will technically become the "head of West coast culinary operations" for AvroKo, heading up NINEBARK and other AvroKo projects in Napa. And though he's most recently blazed a highly acclaimed path in NYC, Lightner's trajectory began on the West coast. After culinary school, he started his career in Oregon, followed by California, then Noma in Copenhagan and Mugaritz in Spain. After opening NYC's Atera in 2012 and earning two Michelin stars (among other accolades), the chef left that kitchen in March. Now it's Napa full steam ahead, starting with the relaunch of The Thomas and Fagiani's slated for August 1.

The menu at NINEBARK will take a nod from the chef's time at Mugaritz and otherwise focus on using local ingredients to great effect. Apparently there'll be lots of smoking, grilling and marinating and an emphasis on seafood dishes like savory porridge with smoked fish, heirloom rice and sourdough, though that's all the intel available on the food front at the moment. On the beverage side of things, AvroKo's beverage director Eben Freeman (also an ex-New Yorker) will head up the cocktail program, emphasizing the amazing produce of Napa with a lot of fresh juices and fruit essences, as well as beer cocktails with local breweries.

Prior to the opening of The Thomas and Fagiani's, the notorious building stood empty for 37 years after a mysterious, unsolved murder took place there in the '70s. But, murders aside, it's basically a three-story amusement park of dining that will include: a bar and dining area on the ground floor, a second floor with an open kitchen and chef's table, and a rooftop-garden dining area and bar on the top floor. There'll also be loungey options up top, with vintage plaid blankets strewn about for those cool Napa Valley evenings.

As the head of West coast culinary operations, Lightner is also heavily involved in an upcoming project in Calistoga, as well as more Napa-based project down the line. For now, NINEBARK is currently slated for August 1, but we'll keep you updated on new developments, menus and more.

The Thomas and Fagiani's

813 Main St, Napa, CA 94559 (707) 226-7821 Visit Website