JoLe is a Contemporary American Restaurant owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Matt and Sonjia Spector, chef and pastry chef, respectively. Learn more about their story, then taste their creations for yourself on our California Wine Country vacation.
What is the vision behind JoLe and how is it being received?
Our vision from the very beginning has been to provide a top-notch fine dining experience, in a more casual, fun atmosphere. We want people to enjoy good food and the people they are with.
Where does the name JoLe come from?
Out two sons: Joe (11) and Jacob Levi (8).
What does the term ‘farm-to-table’ mean to you?
Fresh, seasonal and always-changing. We print our menus in house, which means we can change them daily depending on what comes in that day. You will probably never see the same menu twice at JoLe.
Tell us about your background. What inspired you to open a restaurant?
Both Matt and myself worked in many venues before deciding to open one of our own. After four wonderful years at our first restaurant Matyson in Philadelphia, we were eager for our next challenge. Northern California was calling, so we sold the restaurant, packed up the kids, and headed west. We happily landed in the quaint wine and spa town of Calistoga, enjoying the bounty of ingredients that the area has to offer.
What is the most rewarding part about your job?
Locals that come in numerous times per week and new customers that make a point to tell us how special their experience has been.
What excites you most about Calistoga, California?
We settled in Calistoga because the restaurant space was the right situation for us, and we loved being in a small town with foot traffic. We also liked being associated with the Mount View Hotel. This part of the world holds a special place in our hearts, as we were married here in 2001.
What are the five must-do’s while traveling in the Napa Valley?
1. Drive the Silverado Trail from top to bottom
2. Schedule a tasting at Jericho Canyon Vineyards
3. Sit at the bar of a great restaurant and meet a local winemaker
4. Pick up something you didn’t think your needed at Blackbird in Calistoga
5. Meet Jeff and Sally Manfredi at Calistoga Pottery, where they have been making beautiful pottery for over 30 years.
What should our guests most look forward to at JoLe?
For a quick, casual fix they should check out our awesome bar menu. For a more in depth dining experience, order a tasting menu of four, five or six courses. James, our manager and wine director, will pair wines with every course. It’s a great way to taste a lot of different dishes and wines without breaking the bank.
Do you have an especially memorable story from your many years in the restaurant industry?
In January 2001, at our first restaurant in Philadelphia, my water broke while I was standing at the host station. I was 30 weeks pregnant with our first child, and thought I just wet my pants because I was laughing so hard. Little did I know, our son Joe was born the next day.
Famous Coconut Cream Pie
Makes 1 nine-inch pie
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
3 1/4 ounces macadamia nuts, lightly toasted and cooled
6 3/4 ounces all purpose flour
2 ounces sugar
4 ounces unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
3/4 tsp. heavy cream
Process the nuts in a food processor with a little of the sugar until almost a powder.
Mix flour, nuts, sugar, and butter with paddle in KitchenAid until crumbly.
Add yolks and cream and mix just until combined into a dough.
Press dough into a 9-inch pie pan and blind bake with pie weights until golden brown.
2 1/2 cups canned coconut milk
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut shavings, toasted until golden brown
1/4 cup cornstarch
10 egg yolks
1 gelatin sheet, softened in cold water
1 ounce unsalted butter
In a heavy pot, warm coconut milk, milk, sugar, vanilla bean, and toasted coconut until very hot but not boiling.
Remove from heat and let steep 1 hour.
In a medium bowl, whisk cornstarch and egg yolks until smooth. Set aside.
Temper milk mixture into egg mixture, combine completely, then strain through a chinois into a clean pot.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until bubbling and thick.
Remove the custard from the heat and immediately stir in the butter and softened gelatin until totally melted.
Immediately pour the custard into the cooled shell, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until set.
To serve, top pie with whipped cream and more toasted coconut.