Chef Tom Gray is opening Prati Italia™, a new Italian restaurant concept in early 2020. Prati Italia™ is Gray’s latest culinary venture and will take the place of his successful flagship restaurant, Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails, at the St. Johns Town Center.
Since opening in 2013, Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails has enjoyed success as the premier local restaurant at the St. Johns Town Center. When a Canadian restaurant chain with an earlier registered variation of the name “Moxie” made plans to expand into the Florida market, the apparent challenge also created an opportunity: an opportunity for Gray to introduce a concept that was completely new, yet close to his heart.
At age 17, in the earliest days of his culinary career, Gray was in charge of making fresh pasta for a local Italian restaurant in Jacksonville. He fell in love with the process. “Since that time, I have loved making pasta,” said Gray. “It is fascinating how you can take two or three simple ingredients like flour, water and eggs and transform them into a dish that is comforting and craveable. Over the years, I have always found ways to incorporate Italian-influenced dishes into every menu I create.”
Transforming Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails into Prati Italia™ is an opportunity for Gray to return to his roots, serving the dishes that have always inspired and informed his passion in the kitchen. “I’m a glass half full kind of guy,” said Gray, “and when it came down to it, I realized this was an exciting opportunity to introduce something new to Jacksonville and the Town Center.” Prati Italia™ will offer a contemporary menu of handmade pastas, Roman-style pizzas, and artisan cocktails prepared with careful attention to ingredient flavor, seasonality, and sourcing. “When I first enjoyed Roman-style pizza, which is generally baked in square pans and sold in square slices, I was hooked! I’m excited to bring it to my hometown when we open Prati Italia™,” said Gray.
The name Prati draws inspiration from Rome’s Prati neighborhood, a sophisticated and stylish, food-centric area that captures the charm and charisma of classic Rome. Chef Gray plans to embrace the approachability and warmth that emanates from much loved neighborhood restaurants. “Jacksonville is full of great neighborhoods, each with their own charm,” said Gray, “and we’ve worked hard to make Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails at the Town Center and Town Hall in San Marco feel like vital parts of their respective communities. Prati Italia™ will continue that same tradition of offering a welcoming, sociable space that people will be happy to call their own.”
Prati Italia™ is slated to open in mid-January 2020. When it opens, it will offer lunch Monday through Saturday, Sunday brunch, and nightly dinner with daily happy hour. Private dining and special events will also be available.
Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails will continue with regular lunch, brunch, dinner, and happy hour service through 2019. Popular Thanksgiving, Christmas, and holiday group dining events will remain on the calendar, culminating with a New Year’s Eve Celebration on Tuesday, December 31st. The New Year’s Eve Celebration will be Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails’ last day of service.