George Quattromani, the executive chef at Mar Vista on Longboat Key, has a laid-back approach to life that matches his workplace along Intracoastal Mile Marker #39. He begins every morning with a cup of coffee and a leisurely drive to the Key, closes up the kitchen after busy dinners, and returns home to the comforts of his family. His latest culinary passion: Cooking with local ingredients.
We’ve heard that the Chiles Group is now branching out to incorporate several related businesses into its brand. Can you tell us about these new ventures and how they relate to Mar Vista?
We have an opportunity to work with local farms, local winemakers and local fisherman to bring the absolute best of what South Florida has to offer, “from farm to fork” and “Gulf to table.” Ed Chiles has now taken that to another level by becoming a partner of two local farms. We’re now harvesting organic lettuces and produce from these farms and using them on a daily basis. Ed’s involvement in Lola Wines with local winemaker, Seth Cripe, gives us the opportunity to pair our fresh, coastal offerings with great wines from Napa Valley, Sonoma and the Russian River.
Walk me through a typical workday.
After I arrive at work, I get to talk to my diverse kitchen staff, and together we plan the menu for lunch that day. When the lunch rush starts to slow down a little, it gives me an opportunity to get in the kitchen and be a little more creative before dinner starts. Once the dinner menu is finished, we can figure out what is working and what is not when it comes to what we are going to put on the daily dinner menu. Every day is different, so I get to be creative.
How do you relax?
By spending time with my family and restoring my ‘71 Chevy Nova.
In your opinion, why is Mar Vista such a unique restaurant?
Mar Vista is unique because it hasn’t changed in years. It’s a place where you can come in and get anything from a burger to red curry sea bass. To be able to sit under the trees and have lunch or dinner is quite the experience. We have creative food and unique ambiance. You’ll find nowhere else like it anywhere close to here.
How do you keep the menu fresh and diversified?
Great fresh, local ingredients are a great start. Learning to leave a dish alone and not over-season or sauce a good dinner is important. Finding the odd or different item to let the guest try is rewarding for me.
BOTTARGA PASTA WITH GUANCIALE
2 ounces guanciale (Italian cured hog jowl, or substitute with bacon)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Bottarga caviar (locally grown)
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Dash of red pepper flakes
Package of capellini pasta
Slice guanciale and sauté it in olive oil until it is crisp around the edges. Reserve rendered quanciale and save the oil. Boil Cappellini until al dente. Toss hot pasta out of the pot, leave a bit of pasta water in the bowl, and add the reserved oil and another dash of olive oil, along with a dash of red pepper flakes. Add bottarga and Parmesan cheese, and toss. Sprinkle a little bottarga and crunchy fresh breadcrumbs on top, and serve.
Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant and Pub is at 760 Broadway St., Longboat Key. 383-2391; marvista.groupersandwich.com.