Tony Mantuano Goes All-In On Upscaling Of Sports Food


© 2014 Galdones Photography
© 2014 Galdones PhotographyTony Mantuano will regulate over Cafe Spiaggia during a US Open in Queens for a subsequent dual weeks, afterwards heads home to Chicago to work on his stirring Wrigleyville grill with Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

“It’s a excellence days” of sports food, says Tony Mantuano, vocalization by phone from a drift of a Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during a U.S. Open in Queens, New York, that starts currently and runs for dual weeks. The sports world’s courtesy will be on a large names on a court, Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic. But a some-more than 700,000 fans who’ll attend a contest will get hungry, and they will be means to select from a many opposite assemblage of pop-up restaurants on a planet.

Mantuano will be there for his eighth loyal year, creation a tour from Chicago, home to his 34-year-old grill Spiaggia and a Café Spiaggia offshoot, to work his long-running booze bar and a lapse of a pop-up Café Spiaggia, that non-stop final year as one of a Open’s marquee standalone restaurants. There’s a Fuku, and Pat LaFrieda beef sandwiches, and a ubiquitous Grey Goose bar, and Esther Choi creation poke, JJ Johnson previewing his stirring Harlem grill with piri piri salmon and pineapple black rice out by Court 17, and most more.

It’s a menu makeover that’s not singular to tennis; we can find high-grade sushi and A-list burgers during Major League Baseball ballparks around a country, and increasingly, high-end restaurants usually outward a track doors. That’s a box in Atlanta, where Linton Hopkins partnered with a Braves to open a worldly steakhouse. And when a Cubs start a 2019 season, fans will be means to sup during a stirring grill from Mantuano and his new partner, Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

Here, Mantuano discusses these excellence days, his U.S. Open participation and his bromance with a Cubs skipper—who, it turns out, has a affinity for Cabernet Franc. (This talk has been edited and condensed.)

How did we initial start operative on a U.S. Open 8 years back?
We started out when my mother Cathy Mantuano and we wrote a cookbook called Wine Bar Food that came out around then, and a U.S. Open suspicion it’d be fun to do a booze bar. So we did it and it became a strike and they asked us to do a second booze bar inside Arthur Ashe Stadium on a bar level. Then final year they built a new building, a arrange of Mercedes-Benz salon on a initial building with a grill adult above, and they said, Would we cruise doing something there? we said, We could move a Café Spiaggia from Chicago and cocktail it up. They told us on Wednesday of final year that it was accessible and it’s a go and can we open by Monday? It was a challenge.

You seem to suffer a hurdles that using restaurants miles from home for dual weeks brings though, right?
It’s a mangle from a crazy other universe we come from. You unequivocally bond with a team. You work like crazy and we work prolonged and you’re like, I’m never gonna get by this. And during a finish we have this uncanny fondness to any other. It’s like a badge of honor, like we finished it. So it’s fun.

Back in 2011, Food Republic called your ouzo shrimp during a booze bar one of a best track cooking ever. What’s renouned on a booze bar menu now?
At a booze bar in Ashe, we went on a hunt for tasty pizza crust, and we found one that’s finished in Italy. we wanted something that didn’t have some-more than 5 or 6 mixture and no preservatives and pre-baked in a wood-burning oven in Italy and afterwards solidified and shipped here, and all we have to do is tip it and run it by a circuit belt oven. It’s turn one of a biggest sellers adult there. Pizza’s unequivocally all about a crust. It’s got to be delicious. we wouldn’t do it unless we found a membrane that was unbelievable.

After a Open, you’ll conduct behind to Chicago to work on a new grill outward Wrigley Field with Cubs manager Joe Maddon. What’s a story?
Joe would eat in Spiaggia now and then. He’s this laid behind man and loves food. Wrigleyville has turn Rickettsville; a Cubs owners, a Ricketts, unequivocally easy Wrigley Field to a early 20th century [grandeur], with pleasing pattern from terra cotta tiles that we never knew existed to building a greenspace that’s a park, and a hotel and 6 or 7 restaurants in a hotel that’s right subsequent to a stadium. The Cubs’ executive offices are right subsequent to a track and there’s a dilemma spot, and that’s where Joe and we are gonna put this restaurant.

How’d we confirm that a partnership with a ball manager could work?
It’s something that we started articulate about, and afterwards we met his partners from his grill in Tampa called Ava, and we get along with them unequivocally well. We spent time final Dec in Hazelton, PA with Joe meditative of pattern and what was critical to him—food and some of a influences of his upbringing. Half his family is Italian, a other half’s Polish. Then before a deteriorate started in February, we spent time with him and a partners in Tampa, so we got a clarity of what Joe likes, from his being during Spiaggia, from his background. We did some investigate together. we wish him to be happy. we listened to what he wanted in a grill and booze is critical to Joe. Joe competence be one of a usually managers who has a potion of red booze in front of him during his post-game interviews.

What does he drink?
He has his favorites. The grape that he seems to be enjoying these days when we final saw him was Cabernet Franc. And that’s arrange of a uncanny grape for people to like. It’s opposite than Cabernet Sauvignon, and it shows that he understands wine; he digs a small deeper. He’s enjoyed Italian booze during Spiaggia and Café Spiaggia as well. He’ll send a few players in and say, Make certain we give them some of this wine. Guys will come in and I’ll say, Joe wanted we to try this booze and Anthony Rizzo will say, Ah, c’mon, that man will splash anything. It’s a lot of fun to be with these guys.

How is it as a restaurateur in Chicago, with a Cubs and White Sox. Do we have to stay agnostic?
I’m a Cubs fan usually since we grew adult in Kenosha, WI that is an hour north of Chicago, and in those days of march we had WGN, a superstation. You’d get any singular Cub game. Wrigley didn’t have lights until a late ’80s so when I’m opening home from propagandize we could locate a finish of a game. I’m not dubious during all.

How do we feel about a awaiting of opening a business with a Cubs manager?
We’ve finished a investigate to know any other unequivocally well. we feel unequivocally good about it. It’s not a sports bar and it’s stairs from a entrance. It’s right subsequent to Wrigley. There’s copiousness of places where people can get a drink and a prohibited dog. We did a week pop-up where a Cubs take one benefaction mount and give it to certain chefs, and we usually finished ours. We were doing fun things like griddled mortadella sandwiches with giardiniera—something we wouldn’t design during a sporting event. And it’s time. You can still eat whatever we want, though there and here during a U.S. Open, people wish to eat anything and everything. They spend some-more money. They don’t eat before they come. So a time for good food during sporting events, it’s a excellence days, it’s unequivocally changing.

You’re kind of a colonize of upscale sports food.
That’s gonna be on my gravestone.

Lastly, what’s new during Spiaggia? How do we keep it fresh?
For me it’s about mentoring a right people. You know, Joe Flamm usually won Top Chef Season 15 and he’s a star now, and he’s been with me for roughly 5 years. Beforehand it was Sarah Grueneberg, who won a Beard endowment final year and has her possess restaurant, Monteverde, in Chicago. Before her it was Missy Robbins, who of march now has Lilia in Brooklyn. We’re all unequivocally good friends. That’s usually a approach we do things. we know Joe [Flamm]’s time competence be opening though Joe is unequivocally pure with me, like, Let’s find we a subsequent guy. We send people to Italy when they come on house to learn from people that we schooled from. It’s unequivocally all about mentoring for me during this point—bringing on immature people and examination that talent freshness and steering tem in a right direction.

What do we tell a immature cook about creation Italian food for a Chicago audience?
One of a reasons that Spiaggia has been around for 34 years is that we stay loyal to Italy though during a same time Italy evolves too, so it’s usually a matter of gripping your finger on a beat of what’s going on around a world. You uncover adult with passion, we uncover adult inspired and I’ll feed you. As for mentoring chefs, it’s whatever we need to know. One thing we need to know is that Italian food is about morality and ingredients. You gotta adore Italian food. That’s important. All a people we talked about have Italian souls.


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