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What to order at Napa Valley Grille at MOA?

I'm traveling to Bloomington for business on Wednesday, and our only stops are sadly the MOA and the airport. It looks like Napa Valley Grille is a good bet for dinner. What would you local hounds recommend we order? I've seen mixed reviews online - some dishes seem much better than others.

Also, if you think we should steer clear of NVG, do you have alternate suggestions?


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  1. I haven't been to most of the restaurants in MOA but friends love Tucci Benucch. I've heard raves specifically for their butternut squash ravioli but I'm not sure if that's a seasonal item.

    1. Do you have to eat at the MOA?

      I think Tucci B is probably your best bet, however, you probably have better italian options in worchester.

      Or California Cafe? I know they have a decent wine list there.

      Welcome to MSP - if you can dine elsewhere let us know.

      1. Me, I've never set foot in the mega-mall, much less eaten there, but that doesn't stop me from chiming in with an idea, in case you do end up at the Napa Valley Grille.

        City Pages declared that NVG's burger is the Best Burger of 2007. Here's the link:


        1. The last time I ate at Napa Valley Grille was about three years ago. It was pretty underwhelming. I think the California Cafe is better (though not fabulous, either).

          My preferred choice would be the Twin City Grill (what's with all these "grills" in the mall, anyway?), which does a nice job with burgers, steaks, and fish.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Jordan

            Good call Jordan -

            I have actually eaten there and its pretty solid for a mall.

          2. Eatin,

            The Mall of America and its immediate surroundings are among the toughest places in the metro area to find a good meal. I guess I'll be the contrarian so far and say Napa Valley Grill is actually your best bet, especially if, as it looks, your meal will be expensed.

            Here's a link to their dinner menu:


            The California Cafe is owned by the same people with the same "executive chef". Here is the link to their menu:


            Napa Valley Grill, as you can tell from the menu is a bit pricier, focused on meat/fish/game, whereas California Cafe has the pasta/seafood/wood-fired focus. From the few times I've been there and what I've heard, the changes they made over the last 12-18 months have improved them back to good dining options, especially in that part of town (although they're WAY too expensive for what you get if your company isn't footing the bill).

            I haven't eaten enough at these places to give you a definitive high-and-low rundown of everything on the menu. The ribeye at Napa Valley was fine, as was a meal of soup/salad/appetizers. Nothing negative stands out. My last experience at California Cafe was during a hardcore healthy eating season -- so I chose the salmon which wasn't any better than what I can make at home (although I absolutely destroyed some salmon steaks on the grill for Mother's Day this year -- how embarrassing that was. One of my worst cooking disasters ever and with such an easy thing to cook). So I guess your "what to order at Napa Valley Grill" subject line doesn't get a direct answer other than, "whatever you order, it will probably be fine, much better than anything else in the mall, as long as you expect something along the lines of upscale hotel food and aren't paying the $34 for the ribeye".

            In my visits over the years, Tucci Bennuch is no better than Macaroni Grill and my disdain for Twin City Grill as the worst excuse for a restaurant the Lettuce Entertain You conglomerate (which has several perfectly good restaurants nationwide) could try and pass off on hungry mall diners is well documented on this board. If you're going that route, the Wolfgang Puck Express, a burger at Johnny Rocket's or even Famous Dave's would all be better options.

            1. Thank you all for the input! I've detected a chink in my boss' armor and it seems he may be up for going somewhere other than the mall. We're staying at the Sofitel in Bloomington. I don't want to go too far, but is there anyplace chowish within a 20 minute drive? He doesn't eat sushi or Indian, but otherwise I think we're pretty open to anything good.

              Kate - yep, we have some really good Italian food in Worcester. We're pretty fortunate in the northeast to have a great variety of ethnic restaurants. But I'm psyched to visit MN since I've never been anywhere in the midwest except Chicago!

              3 Replies
              1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                Oooh - if you get to leave the hotel/airport/MOA, you have a good chance of finding good food! Although the area around the MOA and the airport is a culinary wasteland, there are some nice places that aren't too far away. Here's a related thread from 2005:


                Since your boss doesn't like Indian food, I won't recommend my favorite bare-bones vegetarian place near the MOA (India Cafe). Instead, I'd suggest these places:

                Al Vento, 5001 34th Ave. S, Minneapolis
                Upscale neighborhood bistro serving delicious (and slightly pricy) southern Italian food. We don't have many good Italian joints in town, but this is one of the best.

                Buon Giorno 951 Sibley Memorial Hwy, Lilydale - almost St.Paul
                Fancy-schmancy Italian food; good if the company is paying! I recommend the appetizers or anything that relies on the great cheese or meats from the deli. I've been less thrilled with the main courses, but I haven't been there for a while, and others report happiness.

                And maybe:
                First Course, 5607 Chicago Ave S, Mpls.; 612.825.6900
                http://www.citypages.com/dish/detail.... - old review from 2002
                I haven't been here, so I'm recommending it solely on the location. This place gets very mixed reviews - some love it, and some find it so-so, and some have had problems with the tempermental chef/owner.


                That's all I can think of, for now. I hope some others can chip in with ideas.

                Good luck!


                1. re: AnneInMpls

                  Anne, thank you so much for the research. Whatever we decide to do, I'll report back with full details!

                  1. re: AnneInMpls

                    Head's up - Buon Giorno's sit down side is called I nonni. Its excellent. & you can use open table now......

                    Avoid the tuna, order extra gnocci. & lots of red. Might be on the outside (just by a few) of 20 mins from Sofitel. Depending on traffic.

                    How big is your party? They have a wine room that is good for a larger party (8 +) but then you might have to use a smaller menu.

                    Sofitel to the mall is a chain wasteland. sorry.

                    If you all like steaks (I'm from MA and I love the steak out here much better!) there are a lot of excellent spots out here as well. But they might be outside of the 20 min range.

                    Really, you can get anywhere in 30 mins. as long as its not prime rush hour. Not like MA.

                2. Thanks to all of you who tried to steer me in the right direction. We did end up at Napa Valley Grille, after a thrilling stint in the Mall of America's amusement park. The MOA was completely cheesy, but we had a good time anyway. The NVG was about as you all described. The atmosphere was decent, wine list was very nice, and the food was underwhelming. Both of my travel companions had pork tenderloin, and were happy with their meals. I had a rabbit ragout over ravioli. It was tasty, but lacked the depth of flavor you would expect from a really good ragout. The rabbit might as well have been chicken. Just nothing special. We did have a very nice cheese plate appetizer, and the creme brulee was done right.

                  So all in all, a decent business dinner. Pacing and service were good, the place was clean, and we had a fun time.