Napolitan Ristorante Continues to Impress Guests in Fort Myers - SAN MATTEO

Joe Manco's journey to this point has been a serendipitous one. While his roots lie in Napoli, Italy, he had long harbored a desire to settle in the United States. His opportunity came when he secured a job in Naples, Florida, at Rossopomodoro’s inaugural U.S. franchise. Subsequently, he made his way to New York City, where he amassed a collection of accolades and experiences, including multiple titles as World Champion Pizza Maker and roles as executive chef for renowned figures like Iron Chef judge Donatella Arpaia. Together with Calvacchi, he co-owned the acclaimed Mani in Pasta in the East Village.

However, the upheaval brought by the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a change of direction. "My wife suggested we explore new horizons," shared Manco. "So, we returned to Naples, and it felt more enchanting than ever."

Initially intending to open a restaurant in their hometown, fate intervened when a friend recommended Aldos Italian Table & Bar. Stepping into the establishment, Manco immediately sensed a connection.

"As soon as I walked through the door, I knew this was the kind of place I envisioned owning," he reflected. "It felt like home." Initially hired as a pizza maker, he swiftly rose to become head chef.

When the opportunity to acquire the restaurant presented itself, Manco and Calvacchi joined forces with Casella, known for his success with the popular San Matteo on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Together, they envisioned a culinary experience that melded authentic Italian flavors with modern innovation.

In San Matteo's bustling dining room, Manco's presence is ubiquitous — from personally welcoming guests to crafting pizzas and preparing pasta. He ensures every aspect of the dining experience is meticulously curated, often working late into the night to uphold his exacting standards.

The menu reflects this commitment to excellence, featuring a blend of Italian-American classics and innovative creations. While retaining some beloved dishes from Aldos, such as fettuccine alfredo and marsala, the majority of the menu bears Manco's signature touch.

"We strive to elevate the dining experience," he emphasized. "And it's gratifying to see that about 80 percent of our patrons embrace our new offerings."

Among the standout dishes is the Montanara pizza, undergoing a three-step cooking process for unparalleled flavor. Another highlight is the Figliata, boasting a one-pound Burrata filled with Stracciatella cream and accompanied by Prosciutto di Parma, olives, arugula, and cherry tomatoes.

With passion and dedication, Giuseppe Manco and his team at San Matteo Italian Restaurant & Bar continue to redefine the culinary landscape, one exquisite dish at a time.


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