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A tradition of talent

Chef and Owner Alex Grisanti prepares a caprese salad at Elfo’s on S. Germantown Road. Grisanti moved the restaurant to Germantown in 2008. His father, Ronnie, will open a new restaurant in Collierville by month’s end.

By Julie Ray

“The whole world is moving out here,” said Chef Alex Grisanti, owner and chef of Elfo’s at 2285 S. Germantown Road.
Grisanti is referring to businesses and residents moving to Shelby County’s suburbs. In his case, the move is specific to Germantown.
Elfo’s made the move in 2008, bringing his fourth-generation epicurean skills to Germantown from Memphis.
Being brought up in the industry helps when it comes to knowing your way around a kitchen and keeping customers happy. Grisanti, however, brings so much more.
Grisanti offers his Northern Italian cuisine with years of experience working at Rinaldo Grisanti and Sons with his father and operating the original Elfo’s in Chickasaw Oaks.
He has studied under the direction of the leading chefs in Italia, is a certified ACF Chef and has degrees in Nutrition from Johnson Wales and Pastry Arts from the Culinary Institute of America.
The tradition, talent and formal culinary education are obvious to the pallet. Even an inexperienced diner can appreciate the vibrant taste and texture of his creation.
Special to the menu is the eggplant Parmesan made with locally grown Japanese eggplant, goat cheese risotto and homemade sweet and hearty tomato sauce. Of course, the customer favorites will always be the lobster pizza and toasted ravioli.
Bartender Jason Backus said that he sees ‘tweets’ of everything on the menu as “customer favorites.” And while at the bar, just know that Backus has some tricks up his sleeve when it comes to wine pairings and drink suggestions. It was very hard to stump the knowledgeable barkeep.
“Our portions are large,” Backus warned. “That’s the best thing about working behind the bar. Customers will say, ‘Try this, Jason, this is so good.’ And, ‘I can’t eat it all.’ Let’s just say that I eat pretty well here.”
Grisanti and Backus know the customers by name and favorite dish or drink. Calling over a server, Grisanti said, “take care of table two. They’ll probably want the lobster pizza.”
Sure enough that’s exactly what ended up at table two.
And it is no wonder the community has been receptive to the talented chef and his attentive staff, Elfo’s is involved in community events from Millington to Collierville.  At the Germantown Festival, Elfo’s specializes in funnel cakes for the Houston High School cheer girls, where his daughter attends school.
The Germantown Horse Show is lucky to have Grisanti prepare a two-day lunch for participants. He is a supporter of the St. Jude Golf Classic, Germantown Performing Arts Center, Arts Memphis and sits on the board of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation.
“All the Master Chiefs in Millington that are deployed to Europe and want the same flavor come here,” boasted Grisanti. “Oh, they all want me to come out there and cook for them. I wouldn’t mind it, but, you know.”
Between the community involvement, daily operations, three daughters, one son and a wife, Grisanti’s plate is a bit full.
That didn’t stop him from writing two cookbooks, “Wild Abundance” and “Fine Dining Tennessee Style,” which can be purchased at alexgrisanti.com.
Better yet, let Chef Alex Grisanti cook it for you.  Elfo’s is open from 4 p.m. until you leave.

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