Chef Joao “Juca” Oliveira began his culinary journey at the ripe-old age of 17 when he arrived in New York City from his native Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
What started off as a random job became a lifetime passion. In a very short time, Juca moved up the ranks in one of the busiest kitchens in Manhattan-that of Bice Restaurant. By age 22, Juca was the restaurant’s executive chef serving 1000 meals daily.
Continuing to work for Bice, he was asked to open and run Bice restaurants in Washington, D.C. and Palm Beach.
It was at age 24 that Chef Juca moved to Miami and became Executive Chef of the trendy South Beach hotspot I Tre Merli where regular patrons included Mickey Rourke, Eddie Murphy, Prince, and Madonna.
When he moved to Brickell he noticed the area was lacking an Italian restaurant. In 1994, he opened the doors to Tutto Pasta and it became an instant success. In 1997, he followed with Tutto Pizza which until this day is still the only pizzeria in the area with a wood-burning brick oven.
He now brings his love of Italian cuisine to Key Biscayne, Florida. Located in Galleria Mall, Tutto Pizza & Pasta is a welcoming trattoria where one feels comfortable dining with the entire family. Yet its casual elegance paired with its delicious menu and attractive wine list makes this neighborhood gem a perfect date spot as well.
The opening of Tutto Pizza & Pasta has given Chef Juca the opportunity to once again return to the kitchen and do what he does best: create. His menu is traditional Italian yet there is an excitement to it. From the Polenta served with wild mushroom, mascarpone cheese and white truffle oil to the handmade Cavatelli simply prepared with organic cherry tomatoes, olive oil garlic and basil, you taste the freshness in every bite of every dish. “I try to use as many local and organic ingredients as I can find,” says Chef Juca. “I feel you can taste the difference.”
He is also enjoying incorporating the firewood-burning oven in the preparation of many of his entrees. For example, the Branzino in caper-butter, white wine lemon and parsley and the traditional Lasagna made with ground tenderloin, porcini mushrooms, and fresh mozzarella are prepared in the firewood-burning pizza oven adding to the depth in flavor.
In this menu you will also find a few favorites from his other restaurants such as his signature Pear and Gorgonzola Ravioli and Panini Truffato.
Chef Juca prides himself in making his own pasta and desserts in house. “All the pasta served in the restaurant is made daily in my pasta factory on Coral Way.” His signature desserts which include the Pave and Soffiato di Guayaba are also made at the restaurant.
The restaurant has been received with open arms by Key Biscayne residents. Since its opening on December 2, 2013, the Chef hasn’t been able to take a break. But Chef Juca wouldn’t have it any other way. “The kitchen doesn’t tire me, it revitalizes me. It isn’t work, it is my passion and I think that makes a difference.” It surely does make a difference and you can taste that difference in every bite.
Tutto Pizza & Pasta, 328 Crandon Blvd. Suite 111, Key Biscayne, Florida 33149 (305) 361-2224, www.tuttopizzapasta.com