Thursday, December 22, 2011

Well if you have not yet heard, Prato is officially open!  We are so enjoying welcoming friendly faces from Luma and new friends alike into our second restaurant.  This will officially be our last blog post but we hope you will follow us on Twitter @PratoWinterPark , "Like" us on Facebook , subscribe to our mailing list  and stay up to date on menu offerings and happenings via our website  We cannot wait to see you soon at Prato!

Buon appetito and ciao for now!

Friday, October 14, 2011

One Month Away!

            Today marks exactly one month until the proposed grand opening of Prato!  It seems like a few short weeks ago Chef Brandon and Chef Matt were touring Italy, searching for inspiration for the restaurant.  Our excitement intensifies daily as more details are decided from design to music to menu.  In regard to the food, guests can expect Italian standards, executed with an American twist, but we rather leave you in suspense as to the specifics, so as not to ruin the surprise!
            However, we can share with you a bit more about our wine program; most importantly perhaps, we plan to offer exclusively Italian and Spanish wines.  While this may seem limiting to some, we are eager for the possibilities this affords.  Firstly, Italy and Spain produce wines that present with great complexity and pair beautifully with food.  Of course, our wine list will include selections that exemplify recognized characteristics, but it will also incorporate wines that are surprisingly palatable for the loyal Napa Cabernet drinker.  There are over one thousand wine varietals, indigenous to Italy and we are enthusiastic about helping our guests to discover interesting and obscure selections.  From Barollo to Barbaresco, we will have something for everyone. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

            Yesterday, it was our pleasure to participate in the Blessings In A Backpack fundraiser; a program that assists Central Florida’s underprivileged children with their school supply needs.  While the men played golf at the Lake Nona Country Club, the women were treated to culinary demonstrations led by Chef Brandon and Chef Matt. 
The afternoon began with Chef Brandon highlighting the ease of pasta-making for adults and children alike and how by its very nature, it brings the family together.  While Pastry Chef, Brian Cernell guided the ladies through a simple pasta dough recipe, Chef Brandon and Chef Michael Tully assisted the ladies with rolling garganelli pasta.  Next, the ladies learned how to fill and fold tortellini pasta, utilizing our Laughing Bird Shrimp farce.  Finally, Chef Matt demonstrated how to create an egg based carbonara sauce and how to prepare tortellini alla scampi.
The best part of course, was that these lucky ladies were also among the first to sample Prato cuisine!  They indulged on the Prato Meatball, Tortellini alla Scampi and traditional Garganelli Carbonara. 
Historically, Luma has valued its relationship with the community and has strived to support worthy causes.  Prato will uphold this same standard and we look forward to participating in the Cows N’ Cabs fundraiser later this month, to benefit Coalition for the Homeless. 

Chef Matt plating his Tortellini alla Scampi

Chef Brandon and Chef Brian guiding the ladies through pasta-making

Monday, September 26, 2011

Acunto Pizza Ovens!

The ovens are here!  They arrived this morning after a long journey that originated in Naples, Italy, took them across the Atlantic via cargo boat, and delayed them in customs in New York.  Acunto, a third generation company of oven makers, which was founded in 1892, custom built these ovens for Prato.  When Chef Brandon and Chef Matt visited Naples this past summer, they met with the Gianni Acunto, the family patriarch and were impressed with how the ovens are constructed by hand, brick by brick.
As we mentioned in our last post, our wood burning ovens, are a staple of the both the Prato design and cuisine. The square footage of the rest of the kitchen is equal to the size of these two massive ovens!  Of course, we will use the ovens for firing our delicious pizzas but their wood burning signature will be utilized in many of other dishes including fire roasted tomatoes, fresh quail and Kurobuta pork.  In fact, these two wood burning ovens are the only ovens in the whole restaurant; therefore, anything that is to be cooked in an oven will be touched with their beautiful and smoky flavor.
Also exciting, last Thursdsay night, Prato made its culinary debut at the Vibrant Rioja Street Fair.  We served the Prato Meatball, a signature dish, served over a bed of crescenza cheese-Anson Mills polenta and finished with a cherry mostardo and ricotta salata.  The attendees loved the dish and we loved being able to share our food with guests and colleagues alike for the first time!

The Acunto Authenticity Certificate

                                                               The Handmaking Process

                                    Chef Matt and Brandon with Gianni Acunto

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Prato Perfect Pie!

            Our excitement grows every day as we move closer and closer to the opening of Prato as we hope yours does too!  We are busy with the many details involved in opening a restaurant including, obtaining licenses, construction planning and selecting plate ware. But as you saw on our last post about our cocktail tasting, restaurant planning does have its more delicious aspects.  Today, Chef Brandon and Chef Matt worked feverishly on a pizza tasting for the new restaurant.  We sampled a multitude of cheeses, tomato sauces and dough recipes in our efforts to create a perfect pie!  Through their "valient and stenuous efforts," we were able to identify the best pairing of hearty tomato sauce and flavorful cheese blend.  All of the pizzas we sampled today were incredibly delicious and they did not even have the benefit of the wood burning pizza oven that will be in place at Prato. This oven, one of the most exciting features of the new restaurant is being imported from Naples, Italy, created by a family of third generation pizza-oven manufacturers.
            Ready to sample what Prato has to offer?  Remember, your very first opportunity to do so is tomorrow, Thursday, September 22 at the Vibrant Rioja Street Fair at the Winter Park Farmer’s Market! 

                                   Chef Matt utilizing his well trained palette for our Prato pizza tasting

Friday, September 9, 2011


It is official: it has a name and it is PRATO!  Prato will be an upscale casual restaurant, whose namesake is the glorious region in Tuscany.  The menu will feature seasonally-inspired Italian specialties by Luma on Park’s celebrated chef, Brandon McGlamery.  Chef Brandon’s dishes will include light primi and insalata, house-made pastas, pizzas prepared in a custom-built wood burning oven, and inventive Italian entrées that utilize the best of local ingredients, such as sustainable seafood from Florida’s waters.   Our 4,500 square foot space will feature a contemporary design tempered with rustic elements such as an exposed brick wall, wood beamed ceilings, a long bar through the center of the restaurant, and patio seating year round.  The beverage program will highlight a wide variety of wines from venerable old world producers to esoteric gems, and the specially crafted cocktail program will feature both classics and more innovative selections.
            Being that it is Friday, we were inspired to start our painstaking research for Prato’s cocktail program.  Luma bartenders, Jeremy Crittenden and Dave Arnold offered some of their most imaginative and delectable cocktails to date, all of which were inspired by the many flavors and liquors of Italy. After sampling this plethora of libations, we found some truly unique and complex cocktails that we look forward to sharing with you.  We don’t want to give away too much just yet, but expect to find Campari, Grappa, Calvados and Prosecco-driven cocktails balanced by flavors of Blood Orange, Berries, Italian Herbs and Lemon!  

Tasting for Prato's Specialty Cocktails

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Road to Giusti, Part Two

Just when we were resigned to our fate of enjoying a generic a less than awe-inspiring lunch, as a result of the reservation confusion at Giusti, our guide waved us to a table.  In near disbelief, we asked “We get to eat here?”  “Yes, of course”, he responded as though it were obvious.  Apparently, their agonizing five minutes of conversation had been simple jovial banter between two Italians. 
            It is hard to say whether the suspense made what can only be described as a perfect meal, even more perfect.  From the moment we sat down, it was as though we were a part of the Giusti family, participants in an intimate culinary experience.  They toured us through their kitchen, allowed us to watch them prepare food and shared time-tested recipes.  Several bites into our meal, Matt and I shared a glance that expressed words we could not find: that this would be a meal we would never forget and a meal that would shape the direction of Matt’s entire career as a chef.  I could see the gears turning in his mind, absorbing the flavors and synthesizing the experience. 
While there were so many exquisite, yet simple dishes, but the one that most stood out was the gnocchi fritti.  They took us into the kitchen and Nonna (grandmother) guided us through the process of creating this spectacular dish.  First, the dough is hand rolled and cut for each order.  Next, the oil, heated in a cast iron pan, must be tested for just the right temperature, which she did with a spoon rather than any modern gauge.  The gnocchi are then quickly fried and served with culatello ham, a prized variety of prosciutto di Parma region.  Nonna even sent us home with her hand-written recipe, pictured below. The result was a savory, puff pastry-like dumpling of divine flavor.
The beautiful simplicity of the food, complimented by the authenticity that permeated Giusti, inspired in us an intense sense of gratitude.  I know this is the approach that Matt will strive to embody in the new restaurant.  We are eager to translate and share this sumptuous experience with you, our future guests.  Mille grazie per leggere!

- Chef Brandon McGlamery

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Road to Giusti, Part One

            Despite there being only four tables and one server, and that it is closed for the entire month of August AND that it is only open for lunch, Hosteria Giusti is considered the quintessential Modena eatery.  This family operated restaurant was founded in 1605 as Salumeria Giusti and is rumored to be the oldest deli in the world.  Even Mario Batali has named it as his Modena favorite, so as you may imagine, it is as difficult to get a table there as a last minute reservation at The French Laundry. 
            While in Italy, we were fortunate enough to work with Atlanta-based travel guide Peter Morich, who as a friend of the Hosteria Giusti, was able to get us a reservation.  Walking hurriedly up a non-descript Modena alley, I could not help but be reminded of my own beginnings as a chef, as I watched Chef Matt racing ahead of me.  It was obvious that as Matt rushed toward our reservation, he was eager for so much more than food: he was embarking on his journey as a chef, searching for divine inspiration and a way to crack the intangible culinary code as the owners of Giusti obviously had.  The scene bore an uncanny resemblance to my own travels through France and Spain ten years prior, as just like Matt was now, I was pursuing a spiritual understanding of cuisine. 
With our Italian guide in tow, we rushed up the medieval lane that leads to Giusti, so as not to be late for our 1:00 PM reservation.  By the very nature of the culture, little rushing takes place anywhere in Italy, which attests to the great sense of urgency and importance this appointment carried.  When we finally arrived, we were greeted by the sumptuous aromas of Northern Italian cuisine and a man who explained simply that our reservation was not today; rather, it had been yesterday.  Our disappointment and frustration was palpable and though there were available tables in the restaurant, we would have readily eaten on the floor if that were an option.  For the next five minutes, our guide negotiated with the man in Italian, as the fate of our whole stay in Modena hung in the balance.  It felt like one of the longest five minute intervals of our lives.
Be sure to subscribe to the blog to read the conclusion of the Road to Giusti later this week. 

-- Chef Brandon McGlamery

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Restaurant, Already a Community Partner

            After more than a month back home stateside, Chef Brandon and Chef Matt still feel inspired from their Italian travels. Everyday they’re moving forward getting the new restaurant off the ground. Speaking of ground, the concrete foundation was poured today in the new space, meaning it’s not too long before we conceptualize lighting, décor and every other aesthetic element! Although, the restaurant’s name has yet to be released, it’s already taking on a prominent role in the community.
            On Thursday, September 22nd, Orlando food writer, Scott Joseph will couple with Vibrant Rioja, to host an exciting food and wine event at the Winter Park Farmers’ Market. This event, featuring 40 to 60 wines from the Rioja region of Spain, will highlight the top culinary talent from Central Florida. Not only will Luma on Park’s Chef Brandon McGlamery offer a dish thoughtfully crafted to compliment the complex flavors of Rioja, but be sure to also visit Chef Matt Cargo, from our new restaurant down the street, hosting a separate booth serving a signature dish. Want to know more about the new restaurant? Are you curious about how the authentically Italian flavors will translate to the American palette?  Be sure to attend!
            Tickets are set to go on sale through Scott Joseph’s website, Tuesday, August 30th.  Sign up at the link below to be the first to know about it! 

Chef Matt Cargo, on the dirt floor, soon to be no more!

Chef Brandon McGlamery discussing design details!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pasta fatta in casa!

Wheat fields in Parma, Italy

"Pasta fatta in casa" will be theme for our blog today!   Since our first discussions of our new menu were in the early infancy- we knew that we wanted  ALL the pasta that is served to be made in house.  Everything will be made by hand.  After the trip to Italy, the chef's discovered so much about the importance of flour and the quality of wheat. Wheat and water: a primer to the most recognizable food in all of the Italian cuisine. After perusing the internet and all of the Italian books in house I came across a quote that fits the idea of the blog for today. “There is a famous scene in a film that is a cult classic in Italy called, Un Americano a Roma. The beloved Italian actor Alberto Sordi tries his best to eat like an American, snubbing the plate of pasta that has been left out for him in favor of the unappetizing “Americana” concoction he’s made for himself. But it’s hopeless-after just a few unpleasant mouthfuls, he can resist no longer. He grabs the bowl of spaghetti and plunges his fork into it with passion and desire that just about anyone in the world over would recognize- the insatiable love for PASTA. What is it about this food that makes adults lust for it beyond reason and children squeal with delight? If you ask an Italian to explain it, the question will most likely be met with a laugh, a shake of the head and look towards the heavens: clearly, it is not something to put into words (!

Needless to say we would need numerous blog postings to discuss the importance of the quality of flour in making the pasta dough. This is a part of the journey we are taking in opening a new restaurant.  Getting a perfect consistency and moisture content for each pasta flavor, its shape, and it's journey from boiling water to the sauce, and then to the bowl. 

Since the chef's returned from Italy. They have been on a mission to learn, experiment and take in all that pasta making by hand is about.  Trial and error (with lots of error) is how the chef’s are learning.   Brandon has estimated he has tossed over 100 kilograms of pasta, because it did not pass the test. The chef's are on the hunt for perfecting each recipe before it hits the table. Fresh pasta making is such a complicated yet such a rewarding procedure. When you get to the right consistency and moisture level, when you choose the shape and sauce to match, it is such an accomplishment. The Chef’s decide on what sauce they are going to be making first, for instance the bolognese here at Luma, they prefer a sturdy shape, like strozzapretti, and then extrude it in a special machine from Italy. This allows them to make any desired shape or flavored pasta that they have in their repoitre.  If a delicate egg pasta is desired, say garganelli,  for a garlicky shrimp sugo (sauce), then they will cut and roll it by hand on a special grooved wooden board. 

There are so many things to take into consideration when hand rolling or extruding fresh pasta. There are many grades of flour from semolina or durham to some of the very finely ground flours like tipo (type) 00.  Choosing the right flour is only the beginning.  The chef's are working with all the different grades of flour and moisture contents to create the perfect pasta. They have used flours such as farro, rye,  and chesnut;  the moisture has been added in many multiple forms, in either liquid or puree form,  such as alleppo pepper,  garlic chive , ramp green, egg, whole milk, beet juice, and the list goes on. This is a very exciting time where we are learning new ideas and concepts,  but also remaining true, with respect for tradition and quality, which was echoed on their trip to Italy. 

They learned so much, and are so thrilled to be able to share it with you back home!
And they are just getting started!  Arrivederci for now!

pasta dough for the maccherotto

making our maccherotto for the Bolognese sauce

individually hand rolled garganelli pasta

some of our brass dies. We started with four and now
we receive two new dies every month to keep the excitement alive!

fresh egg tagliatelle

housemade agnolotti

house made strozzapreti pasta
allepo pepper bigoli

green garlic fusilli
matt filling freshly rolled beet pasta with braise swiss sward
fresh english pea torteliini
matt filling freshly rolled farm egg pasta with
lobster marscapone

corn Agnollotti (which is on Luma's menu tonight), a recipe that
Brandon learned while working underneath Thomas Keller

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

From Italy to park ave

"da pizza americano," inspired from their trip to Italy. Chef Brandon McGlamery and Chef Matt Cargo testing and tasting  pizzas in preparation for the new restaurant

Sunday, July 10, 2011

"Ci sei mancato molto," we missed you a lot

Hey everyone! Long time no talk or should I say blog. Don't fret! We are here to stay! As the blog title states, we are just beginning this journey, and there is so much more to come! Thanks to everyone for following us! There are so many new exciting things in the future but until then we have more pictures of Italy. Pizza is the subject for today!! 

more beautiful pictures of the coast!

Chef Brandon talking to the pizzaiolo's of the kitchen- (certified pizza makers in Naples)

Olive oil

Italian flour, it's very important to have the best


Pizza margarita in Naples (neapolitan style)

Look at the crust, perfezione!

Beautiful pizza ovens!

Before the chef's left Naples they had to go and taste some authentic Napolian pizza. The restaurant that is pictured above, is set with the beautiful view of the coast.  The pizza was prepared by certified pizzaiolo's, that have perfected the art. You must become certified, to be considered a pizzaiolo/a. Becoming a world class pizzaiolo requires commitment and training in the tradition of Italian artisan pizza making. It is an art and is classified as one in Italy. There are many different styles and preparations of pizza throughout the Italian regions, making the chef's journey very enjoyable and educational. Trying all the different styles to bring the authenticity and tradition to Winter Park.

The pictures below are from Sorrento, Italy. Sorrento is a small town wonderfully located over white steep cliffs and offers a fantastic view over the Bay of Naples. Brandon and Matt were headed to Sorrento to see "one of the most famous products of the Italian gastronomic tradition." The pizza "a metro" which means a long and rectangular pizza. It can be several meters in length. A bright invention "patented" by Gigino Dell'Amura, who at the beginning of the thirties established the bases for the transformation of the historical family bakery in the biggest Pizza-Restaurant of the world, whose fame spread beyond the national borders.  A new name has been added to the primary one, "The University of Pizza", suggested by the variety and deliciousness of the pizzas produced in this Pizza restaurant. It was once said that " It's impossible to explain or to tell about the secrets of such success if you have never had the pleasure, at least once in your life, to taste, one of the most unexcelled, superhuman pizzas!"

Headed to Sorrento, Italy

university students making the authentic rectangle shaped pizza

What a classroom to have?! At the kitchen in the University

"Delight of the stomach, of the sense of smell and of the sight,"
 Professor Carlo Zecchi at the University of Pizza

You can have multiple pizzas on one rectangle shaped dough. Many different ingredients, allowing family style and sharing for everyone. Tradition is important ensuring one of the most important ingredients in Italy, family. Until we meet again, arrivederci!