For Val Morano Sagliocco, who combines a passion for gardening with a love of food, there have been many labors of love in recent years that we have covered in WAG.
We met him for lunch recently at Lago, the restaurant in Harrison’s Silver Lake section where he is managing partner. There he told us that he has recently finished installing an Indian sandstone patio at an estate on Mamaroneck’s Premium Point. The estate once belonged to John Kluge, who founded Metromedia, which later became the basis for the Fox TV network. At one time, Kluge was the richest man in the United States and Sagliocco’s grandfather, Angelo Morano — who founded Morano Landscape Garden Design in Mamaroneck, which Sagliocco now directs — was his landscaper.
“My grandfather built (Kluge’s) patio 35 years ago, and he did all the maintenance on the property,” Sagliocco said. “He saw all the celebrities who came and went. One year during a party, there was a surprise thunderstorm and the tent collapsed. At 9 p.m., Kluge called my grandfather to come up to fix the problem. He was very grateful to my grandfather and connected him to Sinatra and other celebrities.”
When Kluge moved to Virginia, he wanted Morano to come down on a regular basis to care for his new grounds. However, Morano’s wife (Sagliocco’s grandmother), Benita, thought that was a bit much, and the family lost touch with the Kluges. But not with his former Westchester estate.
Morano Landscape Garden Design is not Sagliocco’s only gardening business. He is president of Ridgeway Garden Center in White Plains and next spring will open Morano Gardens on Weaver and Palmer streets in Larchmont.
As he talked about these plans, we sampled some tweaks to the Lago menu — light, luscious seafood-stuffed prawns, a chicken and mushroom lasagna — to go with such hearty staples as eggplant parmigiana and rigatoni Bolognese. Sagliocco, never at a loss for a venture, is also president of Oliveto Morano and by the end of this year plans to have extra virgin olive oil — made from some 2,000 olive trees on his family’s ancestral estate in Italy’s Calabria region — for purchase at Lago.
Meanwhile, Sagliocco’s Café la Fondita will have its grand opening on Nov. 2 just in time for the Day of the Dead festival, as it offers tastes of Latin American cultures from Mexico to Colombia.
WAG first introduced you to La Fondita — whose name means “Hole in the Wall,” after the original takeout eatery on a corner of Central Avenue in Mamaroneck — a year ago. At that time, we told you not only about the flavors of Latin America that it embraces but the sights as well — an entrance mural of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico, by artist Suzanne Bellehumeur; a Frida Kahlo-like mural of Old Mexico and Sagliocco’s photographs of Central and South America.
As we polish off another lovely Lago lunch, he mentions what is perhaps his biggest news of all: He and wife Francisca Ferreira will welcome a baby girl in December.
Clearly, Sagliocco’s creative in every way.