Pastrami Goes Upscale
Matt Greco brings pastrami to Wente Vineyards.
Don’t be surprised to see a touch of Texas on the menu at the Restaurant at Wente Vineyards. New executive chef and Lone Star–native Matt Greco has added hominy fritters, rabbit chili (with rabbit bacon), and one of his favorites: lamb pastrami.
“I was trying to look to this country for inspiration, and charcuterie is so European influenced,” he says. “This is my take on American charcuterie.”
Strangely enough, Greco’s refocus on homegrown cuisine started while working for renowned French restaurateur Daniel Boulud in New York City. Rather than discussing béarnaise sauces or mise en place, the Michelin-starred chef spent his time chatting with Greco about barbecue.
“Since I was raised in Texas and grew up barbecuing in the backyard, he was more interested in me making barbecue than replicating French dishes,” recalls Greco. “Daniel is French, and he’s proud of that; he doesn’t try to cook Chinese. He taught us to bring a little of yourself to the table.”
For his pastrami, Greco uses lamb shoulder, which he debones, brines for a week, and then slow braises. He doesn’t season the meat with black pepper and coriander. Instead, he mixes those ingredients, along with a house-made pickling spice, into a tart aioli spread on rye bread crostini and topped with the thinly sliced pastrami, pickled onions, and cilantro.
This deconstructed approach results in a surprisingly light, refreshing take on the all-American sandwich while showing off Greco’s gourmet chops and Texas-bred love of meat.
“Wente has such a rich history in American food and wine,” he says. “I’m excited to bring food that’s rustic and simple, but refined.”