Los Olivos, the small township at the heart of Santa Barbara Wine Country, recently celebrated the opening of Mattei’s Tavern, a restaurant housed in an historic stagecoach stop originally founded in 1886. Felix Mattei, the property’s first restaurateur and hotelier, provided sustenance to travelers in the early days of the Southland.

New owners, Charles Banks and wife, Ali, (Terroir Selections, Mayacamas Vineyards) and Chef Robbie Wilson and wife, Emily Perry Wilson, have re-imagined Mattei’s Tavern, the result of which is a modern, warm and inviting interior that marries a luxe country aesthetic with contemporary design elements.

The new Mattei’s Tavern menu, conceptualized by the highly creative Robbie Wilson, features two culinary chapters, if you will, highlighting fare inspired by Felix Mattei, under the title “1886” and whimsical, modern fare under the chapter “2013”.

The “1886” chapter of the menu features, among other dishes, a thirty-two ounce, dry-aged Cote de Boeuf for two. The “2013” chapter of the menu features “Morro Bay’s Greatest Hits,” a dozen fresh oysters served on a vintage turn table with sweet shrimp, hamachi and a Tabasco “slushy”; “Crunchy Sea Creatures”, featuring a selection of fresh seafood prepared in a masa tempura, is served in an informal seaside sand bucket, with an uni tarter sauce, among other contemporary creative selections.

A born and bred Texan, Managing Partner and Chef, Robbie Wilson, has manned the stoves of some of the globe’s most lauded restaurants, including Maison Troisgros, Craft, and The French Laundry. Wilson also served as Executive Chef of Matsuhisa in Aspen. Under him, this branch of the world-renowned brand secured its highest Zagat rating.

In 2010, Wilson was sought by an emerging restaurant group in Nashville, Tennessee—M Street Entertainment Group–to head the culinary development of several yet-to-be-opened restaurants, and improve upon those in existence. From inception, Wilson designed, inspired and created the culinary aspects of celebrated spots Kayne Prime and Tavern, and enhanced the local favorite Whiskey Kitchen and decade-old Virago. As Culinary Director of the company, Wilson helmed this collection of diverse concepts as each one flourished in the press and with patrons.

Joining Wilson on the floor at Mattei’s Tavern is wife, Emily Perry Wilson and General Manager, Jason Smith both whom set the tone for friendly, warm hospitality.

Wine & Beverage Director Stephane Colling has created an international wine list, featuring local wines, as well as rare and coveted wines from around the world. Colling, who was born in Alsace, near Stasbourg, France, studied at Oxford University. His pedigree includes successful stints at the Michelin three-star Waterside Inn in Bray, England, The Castle in Tarrytown, New York, Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, and The Modern, where he served as Wine Director. In 2006, The Modern earned the Wine Spectator “Best of” Award of Excellence.

The restaurant property includes bocce ball courts and an outdoor pizza oven, as well as a dining area situated romantically within a small cornfield. “My wife Ali and I arrived here in the Santa Ynez Valley 13 years ago, says Banks. “Since then, we’ve planted some deep roots here. There are tremendous resources in this area for locally grown vegetables, fruits as well as great local purveyors of olive oil, meat, eggs, honey…you name it. It will be exciting to see what Robbie can create from the bounty Santa Ynez Valley provides,” he continues.

Wilson adds, “Our collective vision is to add to the food, wine and lifestyle culture of Los Olivos in ways that will honor its history, while also adding value to its vibrant future. This is a great American town, and it’s been a privilege to become a part of this community.”

To learn more about Mattei’s Tavern, please visit http://www.matteistavern.com/.


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