Tra Vigne, the Italian restaurant that has operated in St. Helena for more than a quarter century, failed a routine Napa County health inspection last month.
The eatery at 1050 Charter Oak Ave. received a 52-point deduction following the June 27 survey, which was conducted by the Department of Planning, Building and Environmental Services. Food facilities receive a failing mark if more than 30 points are deducted.
In response, the restaurant on Tuesday completed a series of fixes that included new refrigerators and repairs to the floor and pipes, according to Bill Higgins. He is the co-owner of Real Restaurants, which administers and promotes Tra Vigne and 11 other Bay Area eateries, according to the company website. Tra Vigne did not close during repairs, he said.
Food service facilities that fail an inspection will receive a re-inspection the county within 30 days, according to Stacey Harrington, the department’s environmental management coordinator. A follow-up visit was scheduled for this week, with the second inspection to come later, she said.
According to Napa County’s inspection report, violations at Tra Vigne included:
- Poor temperature control of cold foods such as produce, which state law requires to be kept at 41 degrees or lower, and of hot foods, which must be maintained at 135 degrees or warmer;
- A backed-up hand-washing sink that caused water to overflow on the floor;
- A roach observed in the chef’s office;
- A lack of screens on the patio area and of adequate weather-stripping on the doors and walk-in refrigerator; and
- Floors, walls and ceilings in need of repair, which inspectors said would ease cleaning and vermin-proofing.
County inspectors called for a follow-up survey of Tra Vigne’s refrigeration, pest control and wastewater issues, but pointed to the building itself as the central problem.
“Facility should seriously discuss the integrity of the building and its ability to maintain the food facility in compliance; the facility is deteriorating,” inspectors wrote.
On Tuesday, less than two hours after the completion of repairs, Higgins said the repairs had addressed the county’s complaints but conceded upkeep of Tra Vigne’s ivy-lined stone-block building is a constant problem.
“It’s perpetual there,” he said of the restaurant, which opened in 1987. “It doesn’t seem like big deal outside, but it’s an over 40-year-old building. It’s like the Golden Gate Bridge; we are in a constant state of dealing with maintenance in that building, from the roof to the basement – more than we’d like, but that’s the way it is.”
Many of Tra Vigne’s temperature control problems came from refrigerators unable to consistently keep food at or below 41 degrees, a state requirement for commercial kitchens since 1997, according to Harrington, of the county. Many older coolers once used in eateries maintained only a 45-degree temperature, she said.
County records list 14 inspections of Tra Vigne since 2009, with its highest deduction being 30 points on July 23, 2012. Deductions of more than 20 points trigger a return visit by inspectors within 60 days.