hurrah-our friend had a birthday and we were invited to help celebrate! We joined him and a couple other friends at Prato in Winter Park. We met in the doorway and while it was a warm evening it felt open, green, cool and dark inside-a total relief from the day. And wonders will never cease because we got to sit immersed in the the hurry of the kitchen. We sat at a counter high table that must be for prep and we were between the expediter and a station filled with dishes, condiments and the kitchen itself. I judiciously chose my seat so I could watch plates being cooked, plated, finished, and garnished. Cooks with their heads down and a quiet determined hustle in an extremely open concept. This is before we even take ten seconds to look at the menu. But then we fall into that reverie that is an outstanding menu. How do you choose between the options when they all sound amazing? Prato has a classic Italian menu made seasonal with local ingredients.
I started with an aperitivo called bevanda fragola, a refreshing gin, strawberry puree and ginger drink that has wannabe’s totally populating my pinterest happy hour page! Herbal and strawberry drinks are a hot weather dream come true. We were treated to a dish of warm olives and the most gigantic capers. I love capers! We had a couple of starters including the most tender meatballs with cipollini agrodolce and beef carpaccio with grilled artichokes and amazing salty dry pecorino. I ordered pizza – the widowmaker. Prato has an amazing pizza oven and the crust was thin and blistered in my favorite way. It had arugula, sausage and an egg. Delicious. Next time I would probably go for the pasta because Z had a primi plate of mustard spaghettini cacio e pepe that I tasted and horribly wanted to steal. I have searched the internet for other mustard pastas. So incredible-savory and addictive. Cacio e pepe is a miracle sauce-only basically two ingredients, cheese and pepper in pasta water. I do not understand it but when done well is a revelation of ingredients and flavor. He also had some Cape Canaveral Flounder with orzetto and cauliflower caponata. The mildest whitest fish we have ever seen with a beautiful sear. I don’t often walk away from a meal thinking how absolutely beautiful the ingredients and flavors are. The pride and care in each dish was so apparent. This is my favorite kind of eating.