A SoCal Food Icon’s Tour of Her Favorite Spots in Ojai
Nancy Silverton is the chef-owner of the Mozza Restaurant Group, and knows all about living the good life in Ojai
Long before she was the queen of Italian-American cooking and a Netflix star, Silverton was visiting the bucolic Southern California town of Ojai on family trips. She now curates cooking demos at Ojai Valley Inn’s new Farmhouse culinary center featuring luminaries such as butcher Dario Cecchini.
The sprawling, Spanish colonial–style, Wallace Neff–designed Ojai Valley Inn has been a mainstay in the area, and The Farmhouse, designed by Howard Backen, is the largest addition to the property in years. While others golf, Silverton focuses on culinary activities. “You need to visit the apiary,” she says. “You can dress up like a beekeeper and spend time learning about the bees and honey and the hives.”
On weekends, Silverton hits up La Plaza Market in Fillmore for an early lunch. “A guy sets up an enormous grill in the parking lot and cooks chickens that are just delicious. They have the most beautiful array of aguas frescas and salsas.” She’s a regular at the Sunday farmers’ market, shopping for seasonal finds like pixie tangerines and other produce, and at Kate’s Bread, a Sunday-only pop-up bakery hosted in her parents’ garage and workshop.
Silverton likes hitting the secondhand shops in Santa Paula and Fillmore when she’s on hunt for milk glasses, and she loves Bart’s Books, Ojai’s storied used bookstore housed in the rooms and courtyard of a sprawling ranch house.
East Ojai Drive is the main stretch, and Silverton notes that it’s touristy, but just to the right degree. For a break from shopping and eating, she likes to go to The Ojai Vineyard’s tasting room, which stocks 300 of the vineyard’s bottlings and offers tasting flights that include vintages up to 20 years old.
Silverton recommends visitors book a tour of the Turtle Conservancy sanctuary, a nonprofit organization with one of the world’s largest collections of rare and endangered turtles (membership required, $500). And enjoy magic hour if you can. “Evening is when the pink hour happens,” says Silverton. The sun sets over the hills and casts a spectacular rosy hue over the Topa Topa Mountains.