About Us

CARLO CAVALLO
Executive Chef and President

Carlo Cavallo was working as a research associate in genetic engineering at the University of California Medical Center in Los Angeles when a friend convinced him he should become a chef. It didn’t take much convincing, as Carlo was already catering lavish dinner parties for the Doctors and administrators of the hospital to earn extra money. Cavallo had been cooking his whole life. I come from a close Italian family and cooking was always a family affair at our Villa in Verona. I started cooking at a very young age” says Cavallo. He also comes from a close family tradition of excellent cooks. His father and his grandmother, who trained with the chef of the royal court of Savoy are both superb chefs.

A dual citizen of the United States and Italy, Cavallo grew up shuttling between New York and Verona where the family maintains a second home. It was his good friend and well-known fashion designer Marco Delli who got Cavallo seriously thinking about becoming a Chef. In 1990, Delli, whose family owns several acclaimed restaurants in Italy, got Cavallo a job as a Pastry chef at his family’s restaurant L’Assassino in Milan, a favorite celebrity dining spot. Cavallo spent a year and a half cooking at L’Assassino, quickly working his way up to Sous Chef. He then took a job as the Chef de Cuisine at the famous Belmonte Hotel in Lugano, Switzerland, where he perfected his talents in French Provencal cuisine.

Returning to Los Angeles in 1993, Cavallo spent the next three years as the Executive Chef for Italian Restaurant group which managed Giorgio Armani’s Restaurants in Beverly Hills, Boston and Costa Mesa where he developed an ardent following from the Hollywood celebrities that frequently dined there. At Armani, Cavallo received excellent reviews and was honored in 1994 as the “Best New Chef of the Year” in Los Angeles Magazine.

Cavallo next took a position for a year as Executive Chef at the Hyatt Sainte Claire Hotel in San Jose. He was in charge of the Restaurant, Bakery / Cafe and Banquet facilities that had revenues in excess of 10 million dollars. He oversaw the food and beverage for the NHL All-star weekend and Major League soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes inaugural season-opening Gala.
In 1996, Cavallo was hired as Corporate Executive Chef/Director of Operations for the D’Angelo Corporation. He oversaw Restaurants in Mill Valley, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Palo Alto. He launched D’Angelo catering which oversees all the Banquet facilities at the Hotel Aqua, Mill Valley Inn and Tiburon Inn. He designed and opened two restaurants and their largest hotel, Hotel Aqua.

In November 1999, Carlo Cavallo opened Meritage Martini Oyster Bar & Grille, which is now considered one of the wine country best restaurants. It is the perennial winner of Best Seafood Restaurant in Napa and Sonoma County eight years running. Carlo won consecutive Best Overall Martini awards in 2009 and 2010 at Martini Madness showcasing his mixology skills. Chef Carlo is current winner of 2009 Best Beef in America Chef’s Challenge put on by National Cattlemen’s Association. For Cavallo, Meritage offers the perfect venue to blend his European heritage with California’s wine country sophistication. He is one of the founders of the Sonoma Valley Olive Festival and serves as it’s Culinary Director.

Chef Carlo is a culinary instructor at the Award-winning Ramekins cooking school and has currently opened his own private cooking school in Napa Valley. Villetta Cavallo operates as high end hands-on cooking school Biodynamic garden, and vineyard. It recently hosted 25 Fortune 500 CEO’s for a private Iron Chef Class and has been featured in the New York Times Savor Magazine.

Chef Carlo serves as Executive Chef and caterer for several Sonoma Valley and Napa Valley wineries for private winery functions. He was recently the featured as Star Chef for the Sonoma Showcase of Food & Wine. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers and has the title of Culinary Director of the Sonoma Valley Wine Auction.


Chef Carlo has appeared on many national and international Television programs such as the FoodNetwork, CNN’s On the Menu, NBC “In Wine Country”, PBS and ABC morning news. He has been featured on Japanese and French Television programs. His recipes and restaurants have been featured in the New York times, Los Angeles Times, Gourmet, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, La Cucina Italiana, Chef magazine, Conde Naste, Food and Wine, San Francisco Chronicle, Press Democrat, and Marin Independent Journal as well as several other publications.

He has cooked for Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi on a regular basis, the English Earl of Kent, as well as another European aristocracy. He was selected to cater a luncheon for the Pentagon’s Lieutenant General Joseph H. Wehrle and 30 foreign liaison Brigadier Generals from around the world. Chef Carlo’s catering company has done events for the Italian, Mexican, Egyptian and Russian embassies featuring such dignitaries as Felipe Calderon, President of Mexico, Governor of Michoacan Leonel Godoy, Italian Ambassador Giovanni Castellaneta, Russian Ambassador Sergey Ivanovich, and Egyptian Ambassador Sameh Shoukry.

Some of his celebrity clients Luciano Pavarotti, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Joey Pantoleone, Pricilla Presley, John Lasseter, Cynthia Nixon, George Lucas, Michael Keaton, Courtney Cox, Ed Asner, Alan Alda, Dustin Hoffman, Rod Stewart, Carlos Santana, and Sammy Hagar. Chef Carlo likes to downplay his celebrity chef status by saying, “ It’s not about who you are cooking for, it’s about the preparing great food and enjoying good company.