Chef Michael McNeilly is raising the culinary bar in New Braunfels. Growing up in New York with an Italian grandmother and an Irish grandmother, food was a big part of life. Holidays were large gatherings with huge feasts boasting traditional Italian fare, hundreds of lobsters, and other fresh foods. Michael always had a passion for food and living with his Italian grandmother gave him a solid background for preparing traditional cuisine. His Irish grandmother introduced him to the art of baking bread and also had a garden in her back yard that churned out pounds of fresh herbs and vegetables.
It is this strong foundation of local, fresh, slow food prepared in the traditional way that he brings to the 188 menu.
When Michael was 27 he moved to Austin, TX and jumped right into the food scene. He has done a little of everything - from cooking at a cajun restaurant on 6th street to Flemmings Steak House and North Italia. He eventually worked his way up to Executive Chef at Trattoria Lisina in Driftwood, TX. It was there he first experienced working directly with farmers and ranchers who bring in fresh meat and produce. Recipes revolve around the availability of the food and not the other way around. This allowed him to return to his roots and prepare food in more traditional ways. After spending two years as the Executive Chef of a hotel in Las Vegas the Westgate, he is back in Texas and ready to cut his teeth on the New Braunfels food scene.
Chef Michael McNeilly is bringing fresh farm to table recipes with an Italian flair to the already delectable 188 South menu. The menu will change seasonally depending on what is fresh and available. Chef McNeilly will be working with local ranchers and farmers as well as utilizing the hydroponic herb garden in the kitchen.
“Anything you taste at this restaurant is going to taste like the big leagues.”
True Italian food is slow food. It is a cuisine of love, and there is a reason why. Michael explains that when you start taking short cuts, you miss the point.
“There is a reason why grandmas did it this way and their grandmas did it. That is the way it is supposed to be done. I can bang out a sauce in 5 minutes or a meat sauce in a pan in 6 minutes. You can taste a big difference in my sauce that goes for 3.5 hours or my Bolognese that goes for 4 hours. You find a depth of flavor - the layering of flavors. Sometimes when I taste something it just tastes like tomatoes and garlic. But if you can have it homogenize and blend the flavors it’s like - holy cow that tastes good!”
You will not find Chef McNeilly or his team taking short cuts. He will be sourcing the best of the best. Of all of the new dishes on the menu at 188 South, he is most excited about the Veal Porter House. All of the pasta will be made in house and will include traditional varieties such as Bucatini. He will be playing funky cuts of meat that no one else has the guts to prepare and bringing you charcuterie that is truly some of the best in the country.
When you dine at 188, you are sure to have an unforgettable gastronomic experience.