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Dennis Max's Assaggio del Forno to Open February 20

Assaggio del Forno, an eatery positioned to "take diners on a

food journey" around Italy, is scheduled to open February 20 in Regency Court in west Boca Raton. Patrick Broadhead, formerly at Max's Grille, has been named executive chef.

Translated as "taste of the oven," the west Boca restaurant will showcase Neapolitan pizzas with

artisan ingredients as well as "our interpretation" of dishes from various regions of Italy.

Max asserts Assaggio as "more of

a gathering place" than his recently opened Frank and Dino's, with an open kitchen and an

old-school, train-station flapper board above the

cook's line to display specials. The restaurant will seat 170 inside as

well as include extensive patio seating.

In a phone call today, Max cited one of his first restaurants, the former Max's Place in Miami, which he had opened in the mid-'80s, as representative of his passion for Italian cuisine.

"Back then, we had a wood-burning oven, and the city didn't know what to

do with it," he said, citing the difficulty in securing permits as well

as customers' reactions to the concept. Max's place spawned Prezzo in

Boca Raton, a similar concept that centered on artisan pizzas that

he sold in the late 1990s. "This is the evolution of a generation," he

says regarding the debut of the new restaurant.


Max and silent investor Fred Stampone traveled extensively in

New York, Philly, Chicago, and Italy to cull ideas for the restaurant. As the case is with

Frank & Dino's and Max's Harvest, this kitchen will adhere to local

and sustainable produce and meats

where it's economically feasible, especially during the winter South

Florida growing season. (San Marzano tomatoes, olive oils, meats, and

cheeses: obviously not local.) Right now, Max's Harvest is the only

restaurant in

the group that's 100 percent local and sustainable, confirms Max.


At

peak, Dennis Max had holdings in 17 South Florida restaurants, including

Cafe Maxx, which opened in 1984. He calls the present a "rebuilding

phase" during which his group is identifying real estate, raising

capital, opening, and managing restaurants. His next restaurant, Burt

& Max's, which he'll run with Burt Rapoport, is slated to debut in the former

Boca Burger space this fall.


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