Written by: Jay Forman
With the opening of the central/southern Italian trattoria a Mano in November, chef Adolfo Garcia has increased his portfolio to partnership in three holdings, rounded out by Rio Mar and La Boca. And while the cuisines served at each are disparate (Italian, Spanish and Argentine, respectively), they are all united by Garcia’s essential philosophy:
unadulterated, traditional fare. Garcia doesn’t go for fusion or mash-ups; he is interested in roots cooking.
The beginnings of A Mano – Italian for “by hand” – started with a meeting of the minds between Garcia and his chef/partner Joshua Smith. “Josh started working with me at Rio Mar and we got to talking about it there,” Garcia says. “Italian food is his passion. Traditional cooking is mine. I used to have to tell him, ‘Quit cooking Italian – this is a Spanish restaurant!’ Point is, he got a lot of his inspiration from Italy; that was his passion.”
Garcia noted Smith’s love of authentic Italian and also saw a niche to be filled in a city where Italian fare is predominately cross-pollinated with Creole influence. “The opportunity arose and I asked, ‘Are you ready?’ and Josh said, ‘Yeah, I’m ready,’” Garcia says. “I kind of stacked the deck for him and brought in a lot of my best guys from Rio Mar, and said, OK tear it up.”
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