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Eat and Drink
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, May 20, 2015 4 years ago

Recipe for Success: George Armstrong

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General Manager, Treviso | 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota
by: Nick Reichert Arts & Entertainment Editor

No one was surprised when George Armstrong hooked up a 4,000-pound beef smoker to his car and drove it all the way from Fort Worth, Texas, back to Sarasota.

Armstrong, manager of the Italian-centered Treviso restaurant, loves to experiment, not only at his business but in his home kitchen, too.

“I was born in the kitchen,” says Armstrong. “When my parents would go on errands or leave the house, I’d cook.”

He entered the restaurant industry in his adopted hometown of Austin, Texas, and since then has clocked experience at a variety of restaurants: DaRuMa in Naples, and two former Sarasota restaurants — the Australian-themed Dundee’s on the Bay and the Horse Feathers Grill and Lounge.

Now, Armstrong oversees Treviso’s menu, along with Executive Chef Jeff Trefry.

“We try to stay with the Italian theme and use subtle ideas,” says Armstrong. “We change our menu every week and gear it toward events or plays happening across the street at the Asolo Repertory Theatre and the Sarasota Ballet.”

One idea that’s not so subtle? Barbecue. That smoker Armstrong hauled back along with his 12-year-old son now rests behind the Treviso restaurant. Each Monday you can spot Trefry manning the grill, cooking up Texas-style barbecue.

Barbecue at an Italian restaurant? Could be the newest food-fusion trend.

When Armstrong is off duty he’s still experimenting. His favorite dish to cook at home is shrimp-and-sausage gumbo. The trick is adding the rest of the seasoning when the stock is boiling, he says.

“I think the biggest death of a manager is the box syndrome,” says Armstrong. “If you don’t see outside the box, you lose focus on the product and get tied up in the environment. Treat every day like it’s new.”

Getting the dish
George Armstrong and his kitchen staff begin preparing the tenderloin for steak au poivre the day before they plan on serving it. Armstrong says the vegetables are from a local purveyor and the steaks are from Grand Western, out of Fort Lauderdale, which also provides meat for Mattison’s.

“Steak au poivre is visually appetizing, and it’s simple and not overdone with heavy sauces,” says Armstrong. “And a lot of the time we like to pair this tenderloin with a Chilean sea bass.”

Treviso
Hours: Lunch: 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.
Dinner: 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Known for: Expressing its Italian roots through creative dishes and adapting the menu for various events.
Info: Call 360-7390 or visit trevisorestraurant.com

Nick Reichert writes about Sarasota fine arts, including theater, dance, opera, music and visual art. He graduated from Wake Forest University in 2013. Follow @TheNickReichert on Twitter for regular updates.

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