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

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.

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