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PRIMA Vini Wine Merchants Website

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About Us

The Prima Story

 Prima Restaurant is a celebration of food and family; both our own family, as well as the friends we choose for ourselves. Prima has been bringing together family and regional Italian cuisine around the same table for 40 years. Join us at our table, and become part of the Prima family.
About Us

Employment Opportunities At PRIMA



Menu Launch







Classic regional Italian flavors, and seasonal ingredients made daily with great care and passion under the supervision of Executive Chef, and owner Peter Chastain.

Wine Launch

World Class

Wine List

The Wines

of Northern Italy

Wine Director John Rittmaster, and Sommelier Frank Rothstein have worked tirelessly during their two decades at Prima to build a comprehensive, world class wine list specializing in the wines of Northern Italy.
Search Our Wine List

Private, Sommelier-Led Tastings

Private, Sommelier-Led Tastings:
We offer private, Sommelier-led wine tastings for parties of any size. These can be held in any of our private dining rooms or even in our wine shop next door, Prima Vini. We can curate the tasting theme to fit any palate or concept utilizing our 50-page wine list. Give us a chance to do what we do best and introduce you to the best wines that the world has to offer in a private and fun setting. This is the perfect ‘cocktail hour’ before any private function!

Awards and Press


and Press




The Contra Costa Times

“Contemporary and innovative Italian foods stand out at this cozy restaurant which sports a huge wine list and daily wine tastings. PRIMA is a fine place for an evening when you want to linger over dinner and a good wine. It’s also the place sit on the sidewalk patio and watch the hustle and bustle on Main Street.”

Contra Costa Times/Bay Area News Group Food and Wine Blog, “Prima Pinot Dinner a Hit,” by Jessica Yadegaran
May 21, 2009
Read Full Article

Prima Sommelier Frank Rothstein named Somm of the week in the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times.
May 28th 2014
Read Full Article

Diablo Magazine

“Crisp and Cool!” Prima Ristorante…offers some of the most innovative, exciting cocktails we’ve ever tried.
Read Full Article


Over the years, PRIMA has been recognized as a top restaurant and wine destination. Here are some of our more recent awards.

The San Francisco Chronicle: Critic’s Choice

“The best Pasta in the Bay Area” and “The best Place for Saturday Lunch”. “PRIMA demonstrates that wine tasting in a restaurant can be as appealing a prospect as ordering food… Prices are reasonable and the portions are nothing to complain about. PRIMA is a place that knows how to please its patrons.”

The San Francisco Chronicle: Michael Bauer

Bay Area Restaurants choose the best for their lists…
Michael Bauer, Chronicle Restaurant Critic June 17, 2002

Few restaurants have as extensive a wine program as Prima in Walnut Creek. With the advantage of also being a wine merchant, diners are treated to great pricing (most wines are a little more than doubled in mark up), and an inventory of more than 1,600 wines.

The list has great depth-there are more than 160 red wines from Piedmont alone-and what seems like just about every Gaja wine ever made. In addition, you’ll discover wines from up-and-coming regions, including five wines from Maremma in Tuscany.

The wines are stored at perfect cellar temperature, and the list is updated weekly. Prima also conducts educational seminars, tastings and produces a monthly newsletter.

Diablo Magazine: Best of the East Bay Awards


Best Italian Restaurant: 2003, 2004
Best Sommelier: J.D. Massler, 2002
Best Wine Tasting: 2001
Best Wine List: 1992-1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
Best Wine Store: 1998, 2000
Best Fine Dining: 2005
Best Italian: 2005, 2007

Wine Spectator Magazine “Best Award of Excellence”
Winner 1998-2014

Only 380 restaurants throughout the world have received this award. “PRIMA of Walnut Creek offers an incredible 1,500 wines at great prices.”

Wine Enthusiast Magazine “Wine Friendliest Restaurants in America”

Only 60 restaurants nationwide were accorded this award, which singles out excellence in wine service, storage, wine list creativity, and cuisine.

Zagat Restaurant Guide

Prima Ristorante
Ranked among the top restaurants of the San Francisco Bay Area.
A ‘phenomenal’ 1,600-label cellar, 40-50 Wine By The Glass flights, ‘inventive’ vino dinners and a staff that knows the selection means ‘wine is the thing’ are the draws at this ‘lively’ Walnut Creek Italian; while the cooking might be an ‘afterthought’ for oenophiles, the high food rating means no one ‘needs an excuse to eat here’.”
Food: 24
Decor 21
Service 23




The Prima Story

The Prima Story


Our Story

When Michael and Janet Verlander rented the shoebox-sized storefront at 1522 North Main Street in Walnut Creek in May of 1977, they had no idea that 38 years later, it would have become the East Bay’s premier wine and food destination. It started as a deli with a cheese counter, a hot plate and a few racks of wine. But these were dynamic times, and Michael, driven by a passion for wine, quickly forged close relationships with some of California’s newest and best names in the wine business. Duckhorn, Silver Oak, Kistler and Au Bon Climat, for example, all sold their first vintages at Walnut Creek Wine & Cheese. Michael still tells of talking Dan Duckhorn out of 14 cases of his first vintage of Three Palms Merlot and selling it for the princely sum of $14 per bottle!

Everything changed when the Verlanders, while taking a rare vacation in Italy in the late eighties, had an epiphany while dining at Ristorante Belvedere atop La Morra hill in Barolo. They were so taken by it all that they decided to import their Piemontese experience to Walnut Creek. Walnut Creek Wine & Cheese became successively Prima Café, Prima Trattoria e Negozio di Vini, and finally PRIMA. With the change came expansion. The shoebox doubled in size with the addition of what is now the Caminetto fireplace dining room.

When I started at PRIMA as Wine Director in the spring of 1994, what is now our wood-burning oven and Enoteca dining room was a sushi bar, and the space now occupied by PRIMA Vini, our wine shop, was another restaurant. Things grew quickly as both the restaurant and wine store’s reputation spread. Then in 1999, the Verlanders recruited Chef Peter Chastain to run the kitchen, further cementing the restaurant’s place as one of the East Bay’stop wining and dining destinations.

Chef Peter and I purchased PRIMA from the Verlanders in 2005, and have since made it our mission to not only preserve the original Italian sensibility that drove the business’ metamorphosis, but to enhance it, making subtle refinements to the menu, the appearance of the dining space, and to a wine list that now numbers over 1300 selections, with a particular focus on the Italian wine that best suit our cuisine.

These days PRIMA is hitting on all cylinders. Under the guidance of outstanding General Manager Jordana Arey and Chef Peter’s unwavering focus on only the best organic seasonal ingredients, PRIMA has elevated the dining experience to one of the best in the Bay Area; while PRIMA Vini, with its friendly, professional and experienced staff, is known not only as Walnut Creek’s most respected source for the world’s rarest and most exciting wines, but also as an internet retailer of national repute

We hope you’ll experience PRIMA’s Italian sensibility with us soon.

John Rittmaster Owner/Wine Director

Hours & Directions

Hours & Directions




Monday – Saturday, 11:30am – 2:30pm


Monday – Thursday, 5:00pm – 9:00pm
Friday – Saturday, 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Sunday, 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Prima Bar

Monday – Saturday, 11:30am – Last Call
Sunday, 5pm – Last Call

Prima Vini ~ Our Wine Shop

Monday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm
Closed Sunday

Valet parking available during dining hours
Retail wines and spirits available for purchase during business hours.

Directions to Prima

Prima Ristorante

1522 North Main Street, Walnut Creek, CA
Google Map

Prima Vini

1520 North Main Street, Walnut Creek, CA

Heading North

Exit on the South Main Street exit. Head north on South Main following it past the Broadway shopping center. South Main will become North Main. We are located at 1522 North Main on the right. Valet Parking is in front of the restaurant. There is a $18 ($11 with validation) charge for Valet Parking. We also Validate Parking in the City Parking Garages located at Civic and Locust (the Regional Center for the Arts Parking Garage), Broadway and Cypress, and Locust just north of Mt Diablo Boulevard.

Heading East

Exit 24 at the first Walnut Creek exit on Mount Diablo Boulevard (take care not to exit on Mount Diablo in Lafayette).You will exit directly onto Mt Diablo Boulevard heading east. At the fourth signal light, turn left on Bonanza (there is a left turn lane). At the second light, Bonanza dead ends into North Main Street. Turn left on North Main Street. We are located 1/2 block up Main on the right hand side of the street. Valet Parking is in front of the restaurant. There is a $18 ($11 with validation) charge for Valet Parking. We also Validate Parking in the City Parking Garages located at Civic and Locust (the Regional Center for the Arts Parking Garage), Broadway and Cypress, and Locust just north of Mt Diablo Boulevard.

Heading South

Exit on the North Main Exit taking the “South” exit option. Head south on Main Street driving about 1 mile into the downtown district. We are located in the second block south of Civic Drive on the left just past Lincoln. If you wish to use our Valet Parking, you”ll need to go around the block to have your car facing in the correct direction. To do this, turn right on Civic. Proceed one block and turn left on Locust. Proceed one block and turn left on Bonanza. Proceed one block back to North Main Street and turn left. We are located mid-block on the right. Valet Parking is in front of the restaurant. There is a $18 ($11 with validation) charge for Valet Parking.


Contact Us

Contact Us


Peter Chastain

Executive Chef / Owner

Special Events

Contact us for more information

John Rittmaster

Wine Director / Owner

Frank Rothstein

Sommelier / Wine Shop Manager

Peter Andrews

Sales and Marketing Manager


Employment Opportunities At PRIMA



Hours & Directions

Mother’s Day Lunch

Happy Mother’s Day


Salmone Affumicato   Smoked Salmon and Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese with Condimenti   18

Ricotta al Forno   Baked Truffled Ricotta with Crostini   13

Carciofi alla Griglia    Grilled Whole Artichoke with Meyer Lemon Aioli   12

Crostini di Fave   Cibatta Toasts with Fava Beans, Pecorino Toscano and Extra Virgin Olive Oil   15

Bresaola    Air Dried Beef with Truffle Oil, Arugula, Lemon and Parmigiano   16

Affettati Assortiti     Prosciutto, Speck, Mortadella, Salumi and Parmigiano   17/34

Astice   Half Maine Lobster with Avocado, Spring Lettuces, Tarragon   38

Zuppa    English Pea and Potato Passato   12


Insalata Mista    Red and Green Baby Oak Leaf Lettuces, Red Wine Shallot Vinaigrette   11

Rucola    Wild Arugula, White Mushrooms, Red Onion, Truffle Oil and Lemon   15

Barbietole   Baby Beet and Farro Salad, Goat Cheese and Balsamic Vinaigrette   16

Caesar Salad   13

Piatti del Giorno

Cannelloni    Filled with Ricotta and Spinach in Pomarola   22

Casoncelli    Housemade Pasta Filled with Porcini and Ricotta, Guanciale Croccante   25

Tagliatelle    Classic Emilian Meat Sauce   23

Insalata di Mare   Grilled Prawns and Calamari Salad with Arugula, Farro, Roasted Peppers

  Cherry Tomatoes, Lemon Oregano Dressing   28

Frittata di Zucchini    Frittata with Zucchini and Pecorino Sardo  18

Salmone   Wild King Salmon Roasted with Delta Asparagus, Salsa Verde, New Potatoes   38

Pollastrino   Mary’s Chicken Roasted in the Wood Oven with Braised Fennel and Fava Beans   28

Battuta      Grilled Piemontese Rib Eye Minute Steak ‘Pizzaiola’

   Wild Arugula, Roasted Potatoes   36



        *Corkage $25 per 750ml bottle, limit two per table

  *20% Gratuity will be added to tables of 5 or more guests

  *Consuming raw or undercooked foods such as fish, poultry, meats or eggs may increase the risk of food borne illness