UPDATED 12:13 p.m. Tuesday, December 4: Naumko alerted us that because the tax collector's office system is down, the restaurant can't pull their permits this week. They've pushed the opening date to December 14.
Craft beer and food enthusiast Daniel Naumko will realize a long-held dream
this Friday December 14 when he opens the doors to his west Boca restaurant Sybarite Pig. The project is a manifestation of his primary passions: Indulgent cuisine and well-made beer.
"The only time I'm happy is when I'm in the kitchen," Naumko said.
Sybarite Pig now occupies the plaza space previously filled by Wicked Awesome Snackbar, a cool space which closed this fall after the owner became overwhelmed by the long hours demanded in the operation of a restaurant. Naumko -- who has
big very big plans for the space -- said he knows "it's going to be tough" but he's ready for the challenge.
"I could do it all day, every day," Naumko said. "This is a dream come true for me. I see it as a way of life."
Long a craft beer geek, Naumko has traveled extenisvely to learn more about the art of brewing. He undertook a solo cross-country tour of American breweries, spending weeks learning from the masters behind some of the best microbrews in San Diego, Portland, and Delaware. He even traveled to Berlin to learn more about the finer points of brewing classic European recipes.
"I really wanted to learn what was going on," said Naumko, who lived in South Florida before moving to Houston several years ago. He moved back to Florida this year specifically to open Sybarite Pig.
He hopes to share some of his extensive beer knowledge -- he's a home brewer himself -- with the growing craft beer community in Palm Beach and Broward counties. The bar at Sybarite Pig will be equipped with as many drafts as space will allow, and a cooler will hold bottles of rare, hard-to-find, and special crafts. Expect to find Florida beers (Naumko is a big fan of Sunshine State favorites like Cigar City Brewing) as well as other in-demand labels. He also has hopes of cellaring some of the high-ABV brews and bringing them out at later dates, once they've reached their prime.
Beer also will make its way into some of the culinary treats. Naumko has a history of using suds in his recipes, having won the Houston Beer Experiment in March of this year. The cooking challenge called for the use of beer and Naumko's spicy guava with wheat beer lamb stew took first place from the judges and third place from the audience.
Naumko had intended to turn his cooking prowess into an entrepreneurial career in Houston, but the high cost of doing business there kept stalling the project. When he saw the listing for Wicked Awesome, he knew it was a good fit. He missed living in Florida and his project was ready to come to life, so he moved back to South Florida.
As the name (and more on that later) suggests, the culinary offerings at Sybarite Pig will be meaty, rich, and indulgent. The atmosphere? Not so much.
"I don't like pompous," Naumko said. "It will be elegant dishes and interesting ingredients, but a rustic, down-to-Earth environment. It's all about beer in the end."
A charcuterie program eventually will play a big part in the menu, as Naumko makes his own sausage and other fixings. He also will make his own stocks to be used in a variety of dishes, like a parsley puree and a pea puree. There are plans for lots of "Mason Jar stuff" like savory and sweet pickles, housemade kimchee, jellies, and chutneys. In terms of cooking, Naumko favors the sous vide method ("it makes a beef short rib taste like beef butter"), so tender meats will be a regular fixture on a menu that will be "dynamic" and ever evolving.
The restaurant will work with a pastry chef to bake all breasds in-house, as well as fun desserts, like beer-centric cookies and other oddities like a chocolate bacon cookie. Naumko would like to churn his own ice cream at the bar, particularly using beer as the primary ingredient. It's something he's tried before and would like to give as an option to his guests. The restaurant will source from local farms for things like pork, produce, and more.
Sybarite Pig is strictly a happy hour/dinner place. They'll open at 4 p.m. daily, except for Mondays, when they'll be closed all day to give Naumko time to make sausage. A musician himself, Naumko would like to host bands in the small space, which can comfortably seat 30 to 40 people. Outdoor seating in a small adjacent picnic area provides additional room, which may be used for pig roasts down the line. Service is different from the norm in that customers will come in and order at the bar and take a seat before food is brought out to them.
As to his restaurant's moniker, Naumko recognizes that "some people don't like the name," a "brand" he's been operating under for some time.
"I believe in the concept behind the name," Naumko said.
Naumko, who is Venezuelan by birth, said the title was given to him by a friend who attended the weekly "Culinary Thursdays" that Naumko and friends used to host at his home in Sunrise several years ago. That particular guest had just tried an incredibly rich chestnut soup that Naumko had made and told him in Spanish; "You really are a Sybarite pig."
"In Venezuela, it's more of a compliment," Naumko said, explaining that it means someone is devoted to elegance and indulgence.
"I'm always looking for interesting cuisine and ingredients," Naumko said.
A grand opening party for the restaurant is planned for
this Friday December 14.
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