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, October 17, 2012

Restaurant Vision

In the age of the internet, instant gratification and unfounded, uneducated comments, one could spend all day, all month chasing his own tail to try and explain or justify their actions or state of mind. Creative minds do what they do instictively and passionately. It was never my vision to cook food for people because their stove doesn't work. It has never been my passion to let people relive some childhood emotion or memory. My vision has always been about fresh, exciting ingredients, put together in a knowledgeable, innovative way that excites the senses without being intimidating to the consumer. From my first consulting job in '78 to my latest project, my main goal is to create a place where diners feel at home, and the food is always interesting, delicious, and adds value to their experience. I was born and raised in a farm land with many thousands of years of human experiences the roads that I walked as a child have seen Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, Germanic and many other civilizations. When we are trying to express a concept or our thoughts, we have a very deep resevoir of knowledge and frame of reference. I do not use cheap themes, or gimmicks to attract serious and committed diners to my restaurants. From the commissioning of our spiral staircase and other rod iron railings by local artist Giovanni Capone, the silhouette murals of vineyards on the wall from local artist Aaron Norton, to the two original paintings of red and white grapes from the artist Michelli from Lake Garda, Italy; our real vinyard and garden in the front: nothing about Onotria is fake or pretending.
There is no fake ivy. Our goal is to create an organic environment for diners to come and have a fun time, experience amazing food, choose a great wine from our extensive, award winning wine list. So when you hear some people say "They may be a noisy place." I want you to know we play the ode to Don Giovanni by Puccini, the famous song "Libiam!" in which all of the participants were having a great time drinking, eating, and dancing, and that's just the way I like it. So for those who are seeking a quieter place, I suggest cemetery, church, temples, or just at home. And for those who believe erroneously that the prices are too high and our wines are too expensive, let me make you another suggestion, there are plenty of so -called restaurants that serve cheap food, and plenty of wine shops that serve cheap wines. But if you go out, remember that there are people working hard, supporting their families, and they are proud of their profession. Let's make it worth it. Its not always about you, its about the community we live in.
Salute, Master Chef Massimo Navarretta

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