Mediterranean inspired, Italian focused and locally farmed:
Villa Locale opens on Basin Ave
Locavore: (New Oxford American Dictionary's word of the year) "someone who seeks locally produced food".
'Farm to table' restaurants are sprouting up sporadically around the country, but it is a new restaurant in the Mojave Desert that is taking the locavore concept one step further by planning a menu that will be 'seed to table' focused. The new Villa Locale, opening in July, is located in the midst of the desert, equidistant between Las Vegas and Death Valley in the town of Pahrump, NV.
The idea began in 2007 when veteran east coast restaurateur Lucia Sangiorgio, known for her award-winning Sangiorgio's and Foro Italico restaurants in northern New Jersey, took a trip out west to see her children. She decided to explore the region and became enamored with the nearby Pahrump Valley. She says, "I was visiting their Fall Festival and simply fell in love; I looked around and saw tremendous potential for something very special." Lucia relocated to Pahrump and became active in the local food community, racking up several first place ribbons for her home-baked breads and organically-grown Italian Long "Cuccuzza Longa" Squash, which she cultivates from heirloom seeds originating from Mezzojuso, Sicily.
"Within months of moving to the desert I knew that I needed to share this food with others" says Lucia. With two well-respected restaurants under her belt that generated a celebrity following during their tenure, the idea of starting a new restaurant exclusively focusing on locally grown and produced ingredients in a radically different location was a challenge she was ready to tackle. Lucia convinced her son Joe Muscaglione and family friend Michael Power to join her in creating a restaurant that would highlight the area.
It was this vision that inspired Joe to purchase a small homestead in Pahrump. The group began organic gardening - planting fruit and nut trees, vegetables, herbs and flowers - and sustainable farming. "I was blown away by the incredible diversity of what we were able to grow in the desert, the quality is superb with intense and complex flavors," explains Muscaglione. Power, who organically farmed and brewed beer as a hobby in his native Australia adds "Because of the extreme climate, the plants go through tremendous stress, which concentrates and intensifies the fruit. We are also using chemical-free, untreated artisan well water to nourish everything we farm."
"The menu will change daily according to what's in season and available" says Joe. "We have a very long growing season, so some of our crops are available year-round-making our supply far more consistent than in other locations."
The 1.5-acre homestead features multiple types of basil, mint, cilantro, parsley, lemon balm, dill, fennel, chamomile, sage, thyme, broccoli, broccoli rape, carrots, beets, celery, cucumbers, artichoke, cardoons, peas, fava beans, green beans, eggplant, zucchini, grapes, apricots, plums, apples, cherries, pears, figs, pomegranates, lettuce, cantaloupe, watermelon, olives and much more.
Any foodstuffs needed for the restaurant not home-grown will be sourced from nearby farms and businesses.
With a long history of restaurant successes and a passion for food and farming, Sangiorgio, Muscaglione and Power believe they are creating something very special that diners will want to experience. Villa Locale's proximity to Las Vegas, less than one hour by car, makes the restaurant easily accessible to tourists and locals alike looking for a true locavore experience.
Villa Locale will be located at 670 Basin Ave, Pahrump, NV. The restaurant will seat 24 inside and 24 outside.
About Lucia Sangiorgio
Lucia Sangiorgio owned and operated the award-winning Sangiorgio's Ristorante in Hudson County New Jersey from 1976-1985. After Sangiorgio's, Lucia opened Foro Italico which became known as one of New Jersey's premier Italian restaurants. Wine Spectator magazine honored Foro Italico with their "Award of Excellence" several years in a row. Among her loyal diners were Shania Twain, Whitney Houston, the cast of the Sopranos, players from the Giants, the late Abe Vigoda and many others. After leaving the restaurant business in NJ, Lucia continued to study and celebrate food by enrolling and completing a pastry course at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. Today, Lucia lives in Pahrump where she works with her partners on the opening of Villa Locale.
About Joe Muscaglione
Joe Muscaglione started his love affair with food at Sangiorgio's Ristorante, working in the kitchen and dining room. Inspired, he decided to move to Sicily where he spent five years with friends and family intimately learning the restaurant business. Upon his return, Joe worked as the Wine Director at Babbo in New York City for his friends Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali. He has also apprenticed in kitchens with David Bouley, Charlie Trotter, and life-long friend, Zod Arifai chef/owner of the venerable BLU restaurant in Montclair.
Joe was the chef/owner of Trattoria Mezzojuso where he received New Jersey Monthly's "Best New Restaurant" award his first year and "Best Italian Restaurant" two years in a row. He relocated to Las Vegas where he was named Beverage Director for TAO Groups and opened TAO Asian Bistro and TAO Club. Currently, he is the Vice President of BEVI Beverage -a small importer and distributor of boutique wines and beers and is working with his partners on the upcoming opening of Villa Locale.