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

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Autumn Flavors

Celebrating the season is the quintessential factor in culinary flavors and freshness- same as in life. If we learn how to enjoy the rhythms of the season we also learn a lot about ourselves. Growing up in a small village in Southern Italy surrounded by farms, hillsides, mountains, and waterways, you become incredibly aware of the sounds, the colors, the aroma of each changing season. Autumn has been one of my special seasons, for personal as well as culinary reasons. From the change of the colors of the vegetation, the rich textures of the fruit of the season, from nuts to figs, pomegranate, persimmons, wild mushrooms, tuberose, and roots, the smell of the earth the richness in flavors, is much deeper, much more decided,inspires the foods that we make during this season. As a young man having the freedom to run up in the mountains in the woods in search of the ovuli mushrooms, porcini mushrooms, pioppini mushrooms, smell the wild boar tracks, collecting the chestnuts and walnuts in their fields. I would see the excitement of my mother and the people in our neighborhood when I showed up with a basket of seasonal riches, as lifelong memories and as a chef I still feel the same joy when I cook for people using the colors, the flavors, the textures of the season. So now you know my excitement when, at Onotria we can finally start serving the wild boar prisciutto, wild boar papardelle, and the inherent excitement for the anticipation of the earth's most prized delicacy, the white truffle from Alba. Our specialty this season will be richer, like veal ossobucco, wild boar ossobucco and options for our friends who are gluten free and vegetarians, this season provides some of the most exciting flavors: casserole of polenta in seasonal vegetables spiked with persimmon and walnuts. Salute.

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