A few weeks back, I wrote a revealing profile on the new Chef over at Raviolis Osteria in Murrieta. His name is Chef Mazzaro and at the time of the interview, he talked not only a little bit about himself but also about the future of Raviolis Osteria. Chef Mazzaro imparted to me a vision of where he would like to take Raviolis Osteria… and it was a glimpse of a small little restaurant, an osteria, with some big new plans.
First of all, Raviolis Osteria has a whole new menu. I made the faux pas of asking Chef Mazzaro why a new menu… to which he answered, all Chefs bring with them their own “menu”… their repertoire much like a pianist who has his repertoire of music he plays. And I think the key word here is Chef. A Chef creates culinary art that expresses himself through execution, taste, and presentation. Therein lies the difference between a Chef and a cook, methinks.
We discussed Chef Mazzaro’s new menu. Albeit all the dishes on the menu sounded delicious, I decided to get the inside scoop on the Chef’s favorites. Here it is… Starting off with appetizers, Chef Mazzaro pointed out the Antipasto Italiano and the Frittura del Golfo from the menu. Having tasted the antipasto, I can personally vouch for this one. The particular selection of cold cuts, cheeses, and fresh mozzarella and tomatoes was a delightful way to start the meal. The Frittura del Golfo is comprised of fried shrimp, artichoke hearts, and calamari with marinara sauce. This sounded more substantial and quite an interesting trio with the fried artichoke hearts particularly tantalizing. Hmmm… perhaps next time.
As for the salad, Chef Mazzaro espoused that one couldn’t go wrong with the Arugula e Parmiggiano which is comprised of fresh arugula and tomatoes topped with shaved parmiggiano. The drizzle of fresh squeezed lemon and olive oil completes this fresh and simple salad. Of course, being an avid lover of Caesar salad, my particular choice one afternoon was just that with an added grilled chicken on top. It turned out to be very good as well.
As for the main entrée, his recommendation of the Spaghetti alla Pescatora was well noted by this writer. A sweeping composition of seafood comprised of shrimps, scallops, mussels, clams in a spicy tomato sauce with touches of garlic and white wine. However, when push came to shove one evening, I had to try my perennial favorite of Linguine alle Vongole comprised simply of clams, garlic, white wine, and Italian parsley. Albeit the simplicity, one is delighted by a powerhouse of flavors… All these pasta entrees are a little over ten dollars and comparable to the Italian pasta dish I recently had over at the Four Seasons for many, many more dollars.
To exemplify fine Italian cuisine and showcase his culinary artistry, Chef Mazzaro also offers specials of the evening which are higher in price but well worth the extra money… especially on those special occasions when one would like to make it a night and enjoy some fine dining. One special I tried was a grilled salmon… absolutely divine.
And if one just wants a good Italian pizza, they offer La Pizza Napoletana – pizza Napoli style with a thin crust dough and a wide variety of toppings. Baked in a wood oven that gets the temperature so high that it cooks in a minute, the quickness ensures that the toppings retain their fresh taste. I think one just cannot go wrong with a slice or two with some good Italian wine.
Lastly, I was told that their desserts are a constantly changing variety offered on a dessert tray with a few staples, among which the apple tart was pointed out as Chef Mazzaro’s favorite. I was also very happy to hear that two of my absolute favorites are offered here as well, the crème brulee and tiramisu. I don’t generally do dessert but I have a feeling one of these days I will get a craving and I will know just where to go.
There are also upcoming plans to expand this little osteria with the space vacant right next door. This will accommodate an expanded kitchen and presentation area for the cooking classes Chef Mazarro plans to offer in the coming New Year. I was given the impression that it will be conducted much like the Emeril Live cooking show and I wanted to sign up right then and there! And also starting in early 2012, Chef Mazarro will offer patrons the ultimate fine dining experience with special evenings of exquisite cuisine paired with fine Italian wines.
So as I wrote in my profile of Ravioli Osteria’s new Chef , I had expressed the hope at that time that Chef Mazarro with his regular trips back to Italy would bring back a little bit of Italy each time. Well, his vision of Raviolis Osteria definitely promises that.. Salute!