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

Friday, December 7, 2012

Passionate about Life and the Pursuit of Happiness

The peaceful silence of the morning sitting at Onotria staring out the windows, at the beautiful gardens vineyards. Thinking about things that are somewhat simple somewhat important, just reflecting on the daily affair and activities. I just made a beautiful salad, with fresh fennel, cucumbers, mixed seafood, clams, calamari, seppia, tossed in a fresh tangy lemon with a beautiful seasoning, drizzle of of olive oil and I cannot help but romanticize because the senses are so awakened, so vibrant. Life is a conquest, small, big, but a conquest. Every day, when we rise to the occasion we feel empowered, we feel free. Chefs are somewhat conquistadors. They don't pillage the neighborhood they just wander around to discover new places, new flavors, new spices. All of those are usually residing within the mind. So my advice to all wannabe cooks and chefs and home cookers, is jump on the boat, be a pirate, conquer,  find new frontiers.
 Don't do the obvious, don't do too repetitious, the palate is like life, it needs to be stimulated, be excited. for years and years you have been told what's good for you, and you found out there is not too much value in spinach, and now you know why you hate them because they were not that good after all. There are so many other exciting vegetables. Get off your butt, get away from your beige neighborhood, vanilla stores.Walk on the wild side, go to Little Saigon, go to Korea Town, the Chinese stores. When you go to the vegetable market don't just buy the same old granola mixed with worthless whitebreads. Go to the little asian stand where they grow all of those amazing green leafy vegetables. Buy yourself some fresh tumeric roots, shave it like you do with your ginger and garlic, with EVOO and spray it very lightly with a little water and salt. You'll be in heaven with the flavors, close your eyes, the flavors, textures, excitement.
 Life is a carnival, don't just sit in the living room looking at the same beige wall listening to the same idiot on TV talking about things that don't mean anything aside from trying to sell you another commercial. "Wait in thirty seconds. wait", don't, get up, buy yourself some fresh persimmon, taste it. They're just as exciting as apples and pears. Buy yourself some guava, some unique flavors you've never had before. Gorgueous beautiful little colorful ball, with yellow seeds inside. That's passionfruit my friend, passion, you've got to crack the shell to get into the passion. When you taste it to your palate it wakes up your passion. Its a tangy,sweet,  sour, beautiful lemon-y, melon-y flavors, deep and long absolutely stunning. It vibrates into your brain cells. That's eating, that's discovering, that's life. When you put that beautiful first spoonful of whipping cream that you never had before, its like mothers milk. Or taste the first slice of watermelon on a summer's day, that's just happiness. so you can sit on your couch in your lounge chair and wonder, or you can get off the couch and start living. So you all know what to do, just stop being afraid of it, just do it. Happy New Years from the bottom of my heart, and if you are as passionate about life as I am, you can come to the wild side, because here at Onotria we do things the right way. Slow, fun, silly, incredibily on target. Life is worth living. Like my buddy Roberto used to say, la vita e` bella.