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, November 28, 2012

Warm Holiday Wishes

      I want to wish the warmest to you and your family from Onotria, as well as from me, Massimo Navarretta, and my family. I want to bring back some of the Christmas traditions of the Southern Wine Region of Italy. Onotria Wine Country Cuisine occasionally gets its own narrations of cultural culinary experiences. We also bring back some of those celebrations because culinarily speaking we are a country close to the water. We didn't do a lot of spending and gift giving but we did do a lot of sitting and eating and enjoying conversation with our family and friends. One of the most amazing parts of the Christmas celebration was the feast of the food. Because of our vicinity to the sea, we would go and pick up Calamari, Seppia, Clams, Octopus, and all of that translated into the dinner for Christmas Eve. As well as all of the seasonal greens: the Rapini, the Escarole, and the Fennels, chestnuts, Porcini mushrooms, Ovuli. Which make our Mediterranean diet such a wonderful healthy diet.
     One of the best memories as a kid would be the excitement in finding the mushrooms and chestnuts. Also sitting by the fire and watching the chestnuts pop, because if you don't cut them, they will explode, and we would have particular enjoyment at watching the old ladies jumping when the chestnuts would pop out of the ashes, of course, these days we would get lawsuits, but it was still fun.
For our seventh year anniversary we would like to enjoy a piece of our tradition with you at Onotria. Through the month of December, we're going to create a menu that reflects those traditions with a twist and an innovative touch. We're going to do the octopus poached with black olives, fresh fennels and Pacchino tomatoes, garlic, EVOO, and oregano. Linguini with Calimari and fresh Rapini. And of course the omnipresent fresh Merluzzo or Cod in a cassoulet, over sweet potatoes in a Moscato wine sauce and green olives, or classic deep fried with beer batter in a lemon dry Vermut sauce. Roast chestnuts whipped with fresh Marscapone in a chocolate cup Ganache. Buon Natale a tutti and the best to your family. Salute!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Happy Birthday Onotria and Happy Thanksgiving!

Good morning Orange Country and happy birthday Onotria. Happy Birthday on your seventh year of amazing time and challenged time. More importantly happy birthday to an idea that has come. I had a hold in my mind for many years, a passion, a desire to deliver to the market a concept so simple, so basic, creating wonderful food from the earth to the table using natural herbs and spices, fruit, selecting the finest meat the greatest wild games,but more importantly, most importantly an environment where people can have a conversation. A dining experience like home. Something they're used to, where time is not important, nobody is pushing anyone out, no one is running around to try to turn you table and rush your experience. A place where food and wine and human relationships are at the center of it all. This is not just a money machine. There are no tricks, there is no mickey mouse, no distractive, undesired noise or music except for the good loud chatting of individuals having a great time and great converstations. Even more exciting than that, its all paired well with a great glass of wine, with a simple Dolcetto or a fantastic bottle of Sassicaia. The goal is always the same. If it belongs at your tables, enjoy it. Fulfill your enogastronomic desire.

At Onotria we keep alive the Roman concept of "Convivium" to enjoy an experience together. The Onotria menu was designed with that concept in mind, to be shared with the rest of the table, not because the portions are extra large, but rather exciting flavors and textures. The word we heard around the tables in our restaurant "You gotta taste this!" Even though we understand our modern life has different needs, we feel the need to stay connected at all times with our toys, please make the time to share those beautiful moments. When you exchange an eye glance, a word of encouragement, or a story a silly tale, a forkful of something that tastes so yummy that you want the other person to experience it. That is the food I love to make. It will be and still is the most beautiful and valuable time we have (human interaction.)

I don't see the world as a competition. I live in my own island, its called Onotria. The chef mind is an incredible place, where many ideas are sprung from just looking at something, when you're driving by Bristol and you realize that you have vineyards, a garden, and everything we grow, we use in our food. It seems a foreign concept to so many and at the end its just home to me and its become home to our customers. The biggest homage that I can attest to is the support we have. I know its easy if you are in New York, LA or Chicago where such a vast population goes out to dine and they love any kind of unique and new idea. but I love Orange County, I love my customers, because they get it. They understand what we do and they support us over these seven years, they really do understand. They understand our committment to quality and lifestyle, to truth and real product, real food: the farming, the vineyards the whole thing. We are going to serve you on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday all through the month of November, a fantastic old fashioned recipe. Pork shank slowly braised in a Persimmon Cherry Peppers Sherry Wine Sauce over Risotto of Spinach and Ricotta Salata. In this Thanksgiving season let me express my deep thanks from me, Veronica and the kids for giving us the opportunity to have such a great life. Also, thank you to all of my staff for supporting us in making this adventure so special. Please join me all through the month of November to share a Prosecco toast to testimony the fact that even through challenged time, we still have fun. Salute!