There's an exciting new old school steak house in New Haven. The New Haven Register tells all...
Executive chef and restaurateur Attilio Marini has a simple explanation for why he decided to open the Cast Iron Chef Chop House and Oyster Bar at 660 State St.
“I fell in love with New Haven,” he said.
“My real estate agent was helping me find a location; he told me to come take a look, and I knew on first sight the space was perfect.”
Marini, 46, has been part of an international restaurant family for decades. Born in Montreal, where his parents settled after their native Rome, the Marini clan left Canada and wound up in Bridgeport,starting Marisa’s Restaurant in 1989. Marisa’s then moved to Trumbull in 1997.
Marini references fate often, starting with his name: Attilio Caesar Marini. “Attilio was my grandfather on my dad’s side. Caesar, my grandpa on my mom’s side. The two greatest conquerors in history…I was destined for leadership!” he said with a laugh . He attended college to study finance and intended a career in corporate law. But the kitchen proved to be a more compelling draw.
Cooking with cast iron first piqued Marini’s interest 15 years ago, after he spotted a cover of Saveur magazine featuring a porterhouse in a cast-iron pan. A self-taught chef, he experimented with the element infrequently at Marisa’s, but dreamed of having a platform to satisfy fully his new fascination.
“A cast-iron skillet is a a nostalgic piece of equipment,” Attilio observed. “No matter your ethnicity, you can relate to it. Everyone had a grandmother with a cast-iron pan, a necessity for Southern-fried chicken, corn bread, the list goes on. I wanted to take something old and do it a new way.
“Nothing has the versatility, the impact of cast iron. I’ve turned so many customers on to it. Most notably, it’s helped me usher in a new age of civil dining, versus merely eating,” he said. “Most of my food is prepared in a well-seasoned pan; that same pan is brought to the table at 550°F…sizzling hot! And the meal remains hot for a full 20 minutes…facilitating digestion and leisurely conversation. Cast iron is the magic metal that allows people to dine properly again.”
The chef with the cast iron pan (“Cast Iron Chef”is a trademarked moniker and unaffiliated with the television series) said he pays close attention to sourcing and preparation.
“My intention for the Cast Iron Chef Chop House is to create an old-school steakhouse, along the lines of New York’s Old Homestead or Peter Luger’s. I butcher on-premises…pre-cuts from the wholesaler are expensive…so I pass those savings along to my patrons.