Volare’s Chef Josh Moore brings passion to the Kitchen
Handling an 80-pound Opah is no easy feat. The fish is as slippery as it is colorful. It wouldn’t normally have its fins and tail this far from its home in the Pacific, but it was a special-order. You have to talk directly to the captain of the fishing vessel to get it like this, with the fins’ long spines intact. The best way to get a handle on it is with a long reach.
Volare’s executive chef and managing partner, Joshua Moore, grins as he holds the luminous fish for a photograph. When his arms need a break, he delicately slides the fish onto a baking tray and the glassware on the other side of the table tinkles melodiously with its weight.
He orders a big fish each Friday, and will start butchering this one as soon as it’s back in the kitchen. He gets an Opah in every couple months.
“It’s definitely a firm texture, but it’s a soft and delicate fish,” he says. It’s not as dense as a swordfish. “It still has a flake texture, a large flake. Real sweet and mild taste.”
The texture isn’t an afterthought. It’s a rare delight in Louisville to get capellini that feels light and fresh or a convincing linguini al dente, but it seems the rule at Volare. The devil is in the sear on a steak, the crispy skin on a roast duck, the buoyant pop of a perfectly poached shrimp.
The seasonal Inverno salad is a great example. With mild, roasted beets, tender aquaponic lettuce, crisp candied walnuts, creamy goat cheese, and just enough warm, tangy dressing to make everything glossy, it lets the diner assemble any number of perfect bites, each with their own delicious balance and subtle array of crunches.
Chef Moore is a newlywed. He and his bride (catering and events coordinator at Volare, Lindsay Moore) spent their 16-day October honeymoon in Italy and tasted everything they could. They ate at “Michelin Star famous places,” and “just little family places.” In romantic fashion, the experiences they shared have found their way onto the menu in several of the Volare menu’s winter updates.
The Capellini di Sorrento is squid-like in its presentation. The delicate noodles cascade, festooned with fresh rock shrimp, from a head-like, hollowed-out jumbo lemon. The lemon in the sauce is a member in a garlic, basil, cream, white-wine ensemble, none overpowering the mix. The chef found a distributor for the larger-than-average lemons used in the dish, but they don’t compare to the one he was served in Sorrento, which was the size of a mango.
Another recent change is the updated beef carpaccio, inspired by one they had in Rome with creamy Burrata cheese and caramelized shallots. Seven recent updates to the menu were directly influenced by the couple’s honeymoon trip.
Volare serves playful and contemporary Italian cuisine alongside classics that are done right. There’s a bar menu with pizzas, slider, and antipasti to go with live music. Diners can find comfort in the homestyle traditional pan-fried chicken parmigiana served with house-made marinara and topped with mozzarella that’s broiled to brown-dappled perfection.
Moore’s love affair with good food began early. As soon as he could reach the counter, he wanted to work with the things in his grandmother’s kitchen. He says his mother would leave him watching cartoons and come back to find him watching cooking shows. Moore’s lifelong study, including 23 years in Italian food alone, has paid off. The proof is in the Tiramisu.