By exploring their local neighborhoods, Napa residents and visitors can find restaurants with a unique and rich history. The region is becoming known for its outstanding cuisine along with its spectacular wineries, and now Napa restaurants such as Downtown Joe’s Brewery and Restaurant are developing a reputation for providing unforgettable dining experiences. In this latest article, the team at Downtown Joe’s Brewery and Restaurant highlights their beginnings and their growth in recent years.

It was in 1993 when local residents Joe and Nancye Peatman bought the Willits Brewery in the Oberon building. They brought in third-generation Italian restauranteur Joe Ruffino as a specialist and retained the Willits brewmaster Brian Hunt. This is the time when Downtown Joe’s Brewery and Restaurant was launched! The restaurant has been built on a foundation of Italian tradition. 

Joe Peatman’s maternal family emigrated to the United States in the 1800s, with his great grandfather Angelo arriving in 1880 when he was just 19 years of age. The family became known figures throughout Napa, as Angelo Brovelli’s son Ed owned Basalt Rock in downtown Napa throughout the early part of the 20th century.

Modern Day Downtown Joes

In 2004, Joe Ruffino moved on from the restaurant business and Joe and Nancye Peatman have been leading the restaurant ever since, working to maintain the tradition of operating one of the top family friendly restaurants in Napa while presenting down to earth service in an engaging style. 

Some of Joe’s family lived in the Italian neighborhood in San Francisco, North Beach. Joe’s Uncle Mario was a great family cook and always desired to be a restauranteur. A staple in Mario’s house was his cioppino. Cioppino is made from the extra fish left from trimming up fillets and is an Italian tradition since the San Francisco docks in the 1890’s. In the 1930’s the North Beach took this home classic and started serving it. Uncle Mario’s high quality cioppino dish is still served and has been a staple of Downtown Joe’s Brewery and Restaurant for several years.

The restaurant has continued to prosper in recent years alongside the growth in Napa as a tourist destination. The restaurant is now surrounded by new wine businesses and restaurants as Napa’s popularity among wine connoisseurs rises. But Downtown Joe’s Brewery and Restaurant retains that close connection with the Old Napa and is one of the few establishments in the area with a history that stretches back decades.

Downtown Joe’s Brewery and Restaurant is now considered one of the premiere restaurants for family friendly dining in Napa and their welcoming staff are available throughout the day to introduce patrons to their menu items and to take bookings for group, family, and private events. It’s a Napa restaurant with a fascinating history and great future potential. To learn more, contact the team at Downtown Joe’s Brewery and Restaurant now at 707-258-2337 or visit their business website at

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