Around two years ago, Chef Tom Gray and Sarah Marie Johnston faced a difficult decision.
The husband-and-wife team learned that, due to copyright issues, they would no longer be able to use the name “Moxie” at their St. Johns Town Center eatery, Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails.
Rather than being discouraged, Gray and Johnston – who also own and operate Town Hall in San Marco – used it as an opportunity, embarking on a rebranding effort that culminated in the restaurant’s relaunch last month as Prati Italia.
Named for a food-centric neighborhood in Rome, Prati Italia features an Italian-inspired lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch menu crafted by Gray. Highlights include “The Quinn” Pizza, a Roman-style pizza with garlic cream sauce, mozzarella and fontina cheeses, truffle oil, chives, and mushrooms sourced locally from Son & Skye Mushrooms in Ponte Vedra; ricotta ravioli with homemade ricotta, black pepper, Pecorino cheese, and lemon; gnocchi with oxtail ragu, truffle butter, and Parmigiano; and a 13-layer crispy lasagna with Bolognese, marinara, provolone, Parmigiano, garlic cream sauce, and fresh herbs. Moxie’s popular pimento cheese was reinvented as a Roman-style pimento cheese pizza.
Extensive vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options are available – something Gray and Johnston made a priority. Another priority was responsible sourcing, with the eatery making use of over two dozen local suppliers.
The restaurant’s dining room received a refresh led by Atlanta, GA-based ai3, which also designed the original Moxie space. Splashes of emerald green and white are seen throughout the renovated dining room, as well as new upholstery and windows that open up the downstairs private event room while offering improved soundproofing. Much of the upstairs portion of the restaurant remains as it was during the Moxie era, still featuring private dining space and a bar.
A handful of Italian-style cocktails were also introduced to complement the new menu, including The Corleone, a martini-like drink made with Manifest Distilling gin, and an Aperol spritz with orange-cilantro-vanilla shrub. The bar still offers its daily happy hour from 3:00 to 6:30 PM.
To learn more about Prati Italia, check out the restaurant’s website.