Giorgio Rapicavoli considers himself a lucky man. With a little ingenuity, the chef/partner of Eating House in Coral Gables has kept his employees working since the March 17 order that closed restaurant dining rooms. He began making pasta kits for customers to take home, and his weekend takeout brunch has been successful as well. "I have a healthy family, and I'm able to keep my crew employed," he says. "These days, that's all I need."
Now, Rapicavoli and partner Alexander Casanova are gearing up for one of his busiest days: April 20, otherwise known as 420 Day. Since 2012, the chef has offered an immersive dinner special at his restaurant, serving a multicourse "stoner" menu accompanied by themed movies and music. Past dishes have included cold pizza, bagel bites, lo mein, and brownies.
This year, he needed to tailor the offerings for takeout. Eventually, he came up with a five-course meal, and each offering is inspired by a different weed strain. "I had to figure out how we could celebrate the day with a really fun menu but have the dishes transportable," he says. "There are some things — like fries — that just don't travel well."
Priced at $42.0, the dinner starts with an Acapulco Gold-themed avocado and elote dish and finishes with a Maui Wowie passionfruit panna cotta. The meal is clearly a tribute to pot, but Rapicavoli opts to not infuse any of the dishes with CBD. "We just really want it to be about the food," the chef explains. "I want people to come to Eating House because the dishes are going to be killer. I don't want it to be about the CBD. It's about the food and the music and the vibe."
On the topic of vibe, Rapicavoli has some ideas for setting the mood at home. "Obviously, there are classic stoner films like Pineapple Express or Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke, but a lot of people like smoking weed and watching Planet Earth," he says. If music is your jam, the chef suggests a playlist of reggae with "good, positive vibes."
And you might want to indulge in a little weed.
Rapicavoli can't wrap his head around why recreational marijuana use isn't yet legal in Florida. "It's unfortunate because in other places it's a thriving business that employees people and puts tax dollars back into the state. There's still this stigma that people who smoke are lazy stoners, but there are lawyers and doctors — and even a U.S. president — that smoked weed."
He says he'd rather be around people who smoke weed than people who drink too much. "It's really not that big of a deal. It's not some crazy process. It's just a plant. And that's just talking about recreational use. Let's not even get started on the medicinal benefits."
Rapicavoli prefers to keep the details of his personal habits personal, other than to note that with a toddler around the house, he wards off coronavirus-related angst by self-medicating with meditation. "I've been doing meditation at home and spending more time with my family. I have an 18-month-old, and we spend about an hour a day with him at the little playground we built." He also helps feed first responders and cooks dinner every night before catching up on Curb Your Enthusiasm.
And he's giving plenty of thought to how his experience running a business during a pandemic might shift his business model in the future. "Honestly, I'll probably continue to offer those pasta kits permanently," he says. "I might even have to hire someone just for that at some point."
But for now, there's 420 to look forward to. "I'm just happy that I can keep my employees working," Rapicavoli says. "They're actually going to pull in overtime this week. This is such a close-knit crew. They're employees, but they're also friends."
The Eating House "420 2 Go" dinner menu will be available this Monday, April 20, from 3 to 9 p.m. (normally Eating House is closed Monday). The price for the five-course dinner is $42 per person, with a minimum of two per order. Dinners are available for takeout or delivery, which costs $5 within five miles of the restaurant and $10 within ten miles. Ordering well in advance is strongly advised: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305-448-6524.
- Acapulco Gold. Elote guacamole with lime crema, queso cotija, burnt corn, cilantro, and adobo chips
OG Cheese. Philly cheesesteak mac 'n' cheese with braised short rib, black truffle, and crispy onions
Super Lemon Haze. Lemon pepper hot chicken with lemon-buttermilk ranch and brown butter brioche
Maui Wowie. Passionfruit panna cotta with guava jam, caramelized pineapple, and lime
Girl Scout Cookie. Samoa pancakes with coconut caramel, dark chocolate, and cookie crumble
Eating House Miami. 804 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables; 305-448-6524; eatinghousemiami.com.