The evolution of epicurean expression that is Massimo Navarretta has taken many beautiful forms along the more than 30 year journey. Along the way, I’ve been fortunate enough to express myself with restaurants like Enoteca, Scampi, and now Onotria. Growing up on a farm in the vibrant agricultural Italian town of Caserta I stay true to my roots and it is expressed in every dish, as I share glimpses of the first flavors introduced to me as a boy. Starting from my travels in culinary school, I came to understand how through food I could clearly express the essence of each regional cuisine.

Forging relationships with what were, at that time unknown artisanal wine producers (who would later become known as the great producers of their respective regions), I isolated the pronounced flavors inherent in the soil and paired them with local ingredients and intensifying the flavors of each hand crafted dish. This creative and calculated gamble has lead to one of the finest and most sought after cellars in Orange County, coupled with a menu offering dishes whose flavors are complimentary down to your last bite. I am pleased and honored to have you as my guest.

Mangia bene, vivi felice

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Windows to My Artistic Soul


For certain, all Artists have their own beliefs,and in accordance with this credo I want to submit a thesis.Many years of marketing has caused a lot confusion in the market place,I want to express a simple art ,edible art,.that is deep in knowledge of the product.but also has the objective of health and taste,.these are things very easy to get.We have to follow the nature and seasons.The Restaurant Onotria is born under this plan.Years of classical education in the kitchen have served to make me understand what it is that I do not like..Sauces saturated from sugar,salt and fat.monolithic flavors,puzzling combinations,just because you can. I made important culinary choice.,changing the sauces from fat to fruit.creating tastes more natural and healthy.,looking for symmetries of taste new scents,closer to the natural essence ,using the specific herbs we can cut salt and sugar and obtain some fresh and exciting flavors,rediscover the use of fresh spices that give the palate new sensation,but they also have health benefits..The presentation of the dishes is  very simple and understandable.the complexities are in the structure of the flavors.the final destination of all the food is to pair well with the wines.Under these conditions the egocentrism of the chef must be minimized,this is a tango dance,it is very beautiful thing when is done right.Mary Natural Chicken marinated in lemon thyme,origano,rosemary and garlic.brick-press drizzle of EVOO.

Friday, August 17, 2012

cult personality

This morning while working in the garden at Onotria at around  five a thought occurred to me.  Perhaps it  is better to explain our lives and our passions. Everything around the world, the culture of food, our customs and way of life have always been a point of interest to me. As an artist when you believe in your skills and your creativity it is easy to confuse people and a passionate approach can sometimes come off as strong, arrogant and unapproachable. In general, mostly because people don't really know you. Most chefs and colleagues are the dearest people who put forth hard work and especially love serving people. Many people around us who make a lot of noise, creating the perception cult personalities and in most cases they are not really true. I love to share to amuse and be amused. I love sincerity, to be stimulated intellectually.  I enjoy having fun and trying new things. So if people want to feel closer and get to know me, just come over in the morning and work in the vineyard.  We'll have coffee and chat. This year the vines are beautiful and the grapes are exceptional. We are going to make another splendid wine and uncork our last vintage on the first week of September. Salute Massimo.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

crudo e scapece

During the summer days my uncle Nicholas and I went to the port of Pozzuoli early in the morning waiting for the fishermen to arrive with their boats filled with the local catch.  It was always a celebration, a real party filled with the gaiety of song and noise of fresh fish boxes off loaded and quickly and taken to the colorful stands. The things imprinted in my mind were that of frenzied activity.  A fish market filled with people, a concert of song, the traditional and historic way used to attract attention of the people.  The dance began with various negotiation techniques passed down through generations.  .I learned early in life that fishermen have varied techniques to show and sell fresh fish and one in particular resonates with me until today.  Some fishermen would place live eel in the barrel along with the fish to create the allusion of live fish. My uncle enjoyed poking fun at the fishermen, sometimes disclosing their tricks. There was a great deal of respect for the fishermen and their work and to show  the freshest catch gave him the (Crudo) the raw Tuna, Sword fish or live gamberi rossi a, rare red shrimp from our waters. This summer I want to present some dishes that I knew as child ,crudo and scapece and introducing  the two preparation very common in the Mediterranean, going back to the dawn of time.  The American market place was introduced to Japanese Sashimi (crudo) and South American (Cevice). Not in anyway detracting from the national pride of these two nations, I want the record to show, Italians have been enjoying these specialties for a millennia.  If you visit Pompei you will notice immediately an important mosaic work depicts a a raw bar found scene in Pompei's port after the eruption of Vesuvius 69 AD. We used the ingredients such as the very precious lemons and fine herbs from the Amalfi coast to marinate the  fresh fish of the day. A very nice and unique tasting dish is Scapece of fresh Shrimp from Belize in lime passion fruit over mango slice pave avocado accent. Fresh Alaska scallops, crudo over cured fennel and Maui onions with scents of habanero and bergamotto. Happy sunny days.

Friday, August 10, 2012

From Farm to Fork

From the garden to the table, seriously you really can have your cake and eat it too.  We are spoiled here in California with a very friendly climate conducive to growing great veggies.  You can not only eat well, but lose weight while doing so.  This is my breakfast at Onotira and yes i lost 26 lbs. eating delicious healthy organic products straight out of the Onotria garden.  You too can do it with a smile and the grace of God in all of us.  Buongiorno amici!  give you love it is needed.