Hidden off of Southard Street across from Fausto’s is Luigi’s Secret Recipes, an Italian restaurant with gourmet cuisine disguised as a pizzeria.
“Fresh ingredients make a huge difference, there is no microwaves or freezers in my restaurant. Everything is made from scratch and entrees would be double the price at fine dining restaurants,” said owner Luigi Pacelli.
Pacelli, originally from Connecticut, is from a family of chefs. His father owned a pizzeria and he has been making pies since he was a young teenager. He gained further chef experience in Bar Harbor, Maine, where he was a chef at an upscale restaurant called Casual Fine Dining. There he changed menu items four times a year to coordinate the vegetables and fruits in season in the fertile farm country of the Northeast.
“Cooking is my passion,” said Pacelli with pride. “Nothing is better than somebody trying something you made in your kitchen and saying it is amazing.”
Luigi brought out a beet salad to start — oven roasted beets stuffed with goat cheese, topped with pine nuts and homemade tarragon vinaigrette served on a bed of greens.
“When the beet is roasted, it is sweeter. Gold beets and red beets taste almost the same but the contrast of colors is visually appealing. The flavor of the goat cheese blends perfectly with the beet,” said Pacelli.
Other featured salads include Caprese, Greek, Ceasar and the spicy tuna — seared tuna with avocado, mixed greens and spicy aioli. But the salads just break the ice. The menu features an epic list of sandwiches, calzones, Stromboli and pizzas.
All sandwiches are served on a panini and come with the highest quality of meat according to Pacelli. The prosciutto is imported from Italy, meats are fresh cut and sandwiches are pressed to combine the succulent meat, cheeses and vegetables into a blast of flavor. Some of the more popular sandwiches are the Italian, ham and Swiss, pesto chicken and the “Stoner.”
The Stoner is a foot-and-a-half-long monster of a sub with Prosciutto Di Parma, Capicola, Sopressata, ham, provolone, sliced mozzarella, tomato, avocado, pickled red onion, jalapeño, garlic, aioli, oil and vinegar and a touch of Sriracha. It is seldom finished by a single person … but has been done, Pacelli said. The size does not compromise the quality and every last bite is worth savoring according to numerous customers.
Pizza is of course the most popular item on the menu and they deliver. Sicilian, small and large pies are all available with white or wheat dough. The Hawaiian pizza is made with fresh cut pineapple chucks and top-notch ham. Pacelli said his chef skills are able to appease the most difficult critics.
“In my two and a half years open I have had only two complaints, which is unheard of,” he said. “I hope to open a fine dining establishment within a few years.”
Of course there is dessert. Cinnamon knots and cannoli with some secret ingredients are on the menu and soon Pacelli will be adding tiramisu. Give them a call at 305-292-4962, like their Facebook at www.facebook.com/luigissecretrecipes and go to their website at luigissecretrecipes.com. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.