Americans have always been known for being a casual, down-to-earth nation of people. Our president once served hotdogs to the King and Queen of England.
Over the years, things have gotten even more laid back.
There once was a day when it was considered poor manners to wear a pair of jeans in a high-end restaurant -- that was probably when only the very wealthy went out to eat regularly.
These days, most of us want to eat great food while wearing a T-shirt and a pair of jorts.
Boca Raton has just received its newest epicurean yet homey eatery, 13 American Table. Executive Chef Anthony Fiorini, an alumnus of 32 East, serves up classic American fare with a strong multicultural influence.
Owners Albert and Melanie Aletto opened the spot on July 25. Their goal with the restaurant is to be a "Family-owned, new American restaurant focusing on food, great service, and delivering a consistent quality product in a humble welcoming environment."
Fiorini, who also spent time working at Danny Meyer's Union Square and in Italy, has created an ingredient-driven menu that incorporates international techniques with a relaxed American approach to fare. The menu ranges from BBQ pork belly ($15) and mac & cheese with breadcrumbs and chives ($10) to Florida grouper ceviche ($15) to ginger basted mahi ($26).
"We realized we had to have a concept," said general manager Oliver Tito. "We're American Table; America is made up of people from all over the world, who brought with them flavors from all over the world. Anthony [Fiorini] takes a Peruvian dish like ceviche and uses local ingredients and local terminology. What is American, really?"
Fiorini's background is Italian. Aside from his family ancestry, he has done a couple of cooking tours in Italy. Italian cuisine and techniques are his passion.
"When I had the first menu written, I kept looking at 13 American Table and saying, 'I have way too many Italian things on this menu,'" he said. "I'm all about my heritage and I'm really passionate about using good ingredients, simply prepared, and cooking from my heart. That is very Italian."
One of the highlights of the restaurant is the Josper oven. Imported from Spain, the specialty cooking apparatus uses mesquite charcoal to impart a slighty smokey flavor in dishes ranging from chicken, pork, and steaks to octopus and veggies.
For the bar program, the restaurant adheres as closely as possible to the American theme; most of the wines, spirits, and craft beers are produced in the United States. Drinks like the Game Changer ($11) with Spring 44 gin, cucumber lime press, and fresh basil and the It's Strawberry Thyme ($13), which includes Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, Carpano Antica Vermouth, fresh strawberries, thyme syrup, Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Bitters, and an Absinthe rinse are created with high-quality artisanal products.
Note to anyone with dietary issues: Fiorini and the rest of the staff are very accommodating, Much of the menu can be made without dairy and gluten-free options are available.
"Working for Danny Meyer, it was the house of yes," said Fiorini. "That's one thing I really learned working there and I have taken it with me. That's why he's such a success."
13 American Table is located at 451 E. Palmetto Park Road in Boca Raton. Call 561-409-2061, or visit facebook.com/pages/13-American-Table.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
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