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 entrĂ©es 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