When Executive Chef Joe Natoli enters 619 Ocean View – the Sawgrass Marriott’s oceanfront restaurant in Ponte Vedra Beach – he is instantly reminded of Salina, the small Italian island near Sicily where his father was raised which he visited often as a child.
Casting his arms wide to the waves crashing right outside the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows, Natoli said, “Every day, when I see this I’m like, ‘Wow, this reminds me of Italy. That’s kind of where Coastal Italian came from.”“Coastal Italian” is the theme of 619 Ocean View’s new menu. Drawing on his memories of the Italian coast and the farm-fresh produce so prevalent in its cuisine, Natoli and his culinary team have crafted a new menu that combines Italian tradition with produce from local First Coast farms.
“It’s really using our local ingredients,” Natoli said, “and making them stand out with an old-world tradition.”
New menu offerings include traditional entrees with an Italian twist – from Frutti di Mare and Chicken Milanese to Grilled Swordfish Siciliana to Braised Short Ribs with Papardell and Lobster and Butternut Squash Ravioli. Appetizers include focaccia spread with slow-roasted elephant garlic, a charcuterie featuring a variety meats, cheeses and house-marinated olives, and arancini stuffed with either mozzarella or house-made Italian sausage.
“The exciting thing about this menu is that 98 percent of it is prepared in-house,” Natoli said. “There is very little that is being brought in.”That extends to 619 Ocean View’s new dessert menu, which includes house-made delicacies such as a chocolate budini and lemon semolina cake. And in keeping with the restaurant’s commitment to develop partnerships with local farms and purveyors, the restaurant has begun working with local ice cream parlor Christy’s Dream to offer home-made ice cream flavors created exclusively for the restaurant.
“They’re making a maraschino cherry and vanilla ice cream and a sea salt caramel ice cream just for us,” said Marya Moore, general manager of the Sawgrass Marriott’s Cabana Beach Club. “It’s an awesome partnership that will continue to grow.”
Natoli credits the talents of chefs Nick Ocheltree, Tyler Kimbrell and their team with helping him to bring a bit of the Italian coast to Florida’s First Coast.”
“I have some culinary geniuses in the kitchen,” he said. “I’m tasting now what I remember growing up in Italy.”