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Travel 3 minutes 16 August 2019

Chefs’ Travel Black Book: Fabrizio Fiorani’s Food Guide To Rome

The renowned pastry chef, who has worked in many MICHELIN-starred restaurants around the world, shares his favourite desserts and dining spots in his home city.

Italy

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. This famous proverb aptly sums up how Italian pastry chef Fabrizio Fiorani generously dishes out dining recommendations in his home city of Rome. Fiorani, who is known for his zany dessert creations, from moulded chocolates to confections, says that travelling back to the Italian capital gives him a comforting sense of home-coming.

The 33-year-old, who is based in Italy, says: “Despite its problems, Rome remains one of the cities that are close to my heart as it is a perfect mix between tradition and modernity, and is full of stories. In summer, I love to walk along Via della Conciliazione looking at Saint Peter’s Basilica with a big ice cream in one hand.”
If Fiorani is craving for gelato, he visits Otaleg in Trastevere for freshly-made gelato. (Photo: Kenneth Goh)
If Fiorani is craving for gelato, he visits Otaleg in Trastevere for freshly-made gelato. (Photo: Kenneth Goh)
From licking up chocolate gelato in Trastevere to digging into pizza bianca near the historic Campo de’ Fiori, Fiorani has pounded the cobblestoned streets of Rome for his favourite dishes. After all, he spent 13 years honing his pastry craft at MICHELIN-starred restaurants in the city such as the three-MICHELIN-starred Restaurant La Pergola in Rome. He also worked in three-MICHELIN-starred Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence and one-MICHELIN-starred Il Pellicano in Tuscany.

In August 2014, he took the plunge and relocated to Tokyo to work as pastry chef at Restaurant Heinz Beck, before spending four years heading the pastry team at one-MICHELIN-starred Il Ristorante Luca Fantin by Italian chef Luca Fantin in Tokyo. However, it was at the Italian restaurant in Il Ristorante Luca Fantin where his imagination in desserts took flight. He gained international acclaim for his dashing desserts that are presented with creative flair.

Fiorani was the brains behind an unconventional tiramisu dessert that comprises chocolate-and-cookie glass frames perched on a red nose that resembles the chef’s, an upside-down apple pie and dainty petite fours that are crafted in the shape of Italy. In May, he left the restaurant, and is now a pastry consultant for hotels and food companies.

We pick Fiorani’s brain to find out his go-to spots for food and desserts.
One of Fiorani's favourite desserts spots in Rome is Pasticceria Grué. (Photo: Pasticceria Grué FB Page)
One of Fiorani's favourite desserts spots in Rome is Pasticceria Grué. (Photo: Pasticceria Grué FB Page)
1. What are your favourite places to go for pastries and desserts in Rome?

My favourite place to eat gelato in Roma is Otaleg (Otaleg is “gelato” spelt backwards) in Trastevere. Owner Marco Radicioni is a genius of gelato art and he churns out some of the best gelato in the city. There are classics, seasonal flavours and creative concoctions. He regularly creates new tastes using the best ingredients. You have to try gelato made with various single-origin chocolate.

One of the best pastry shop in Rome is Pasticceria Grue in Viale Regina Margherita. Here, you can find amazing brioche, croissant and pastry from early morning for a great breakfast. One of the must-tries here is the home-made panettone which is only available during the Christmas season.

2. Where are your favourite places to dine at in Rome?

I love Roscioli, which is in the historical center of Rome. It is a charming little deli that serves incredible delicatessen, freshly baked breads, and pizza bianca. Follow the recommendations of owners Alessandro and Pierluigi, and try, what I think is the best carbonara in the world, and the unbelievable version of club sandwich . Don’t leave without having an espresso at the end of the meal.

If I want to feel like home after a long trip, my only salvation is Trattoria Da Cesare al Casaletto in Via del Casaletto. The owner of the restaurant, Leonardo, will guide you to choose the best natural wine for your meal and suggest dishes to pair with the wine. I love the polpette di bollito (meatballs), scottadito lamb chops, and ricotta and visciole sweet pie.

I’m really big fan of pizzas, and one of my go-to places is Seu Pizza Illuminati in Via Angelo Bargoni. Pier Daniele is one of the most creative pizza chefs to watch — he makes fluffy and crispy dough that is filled with the best ingredients every day. One of my favourite pizzas is Valeria, which is named after Daniele’s wife and is a cross between Roman and Naples-style pizza. Valeria welcomes diners with her fantastic smile, so you’d have to try as much pizza as you can.

If you want to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city, here are a couple of suggestions for places to eat near the coast that are within a 30-minute drive from Rome. In Fregene, La Baia offers the best spaghetti con le telline (spaghetti with small clams). In Fiumicino, Pizzeria Sancho by the Di Lelio family carries on the tradition using local ingredients and Italian flour. A must-try is the Pizza With Porchetta In Potato Crust.

For terrace-dining with good views, I like the La Pergola, the only three-MICHELIN-starred restaurant in Rome. Heinz Beck and Simone Pinoli will make you feel at home with elegance and savoir faire. A must-try dish is the Fagottelli la Pergola, a liquid ravioli filled with carbonara sauce.
Fiorani loves the the three-MICHELIN-starred La Pergola for its elegant decor and impeccable service. (Photo: La Pergola FB Page)
Fiorani loves the the three-MICHELIN-starred La Pergola for its elegant decor and impeccable service. (Photo: La Pergola FB Page)
3. Which are your favourite markets or shops to get produce from in Rome?

I go to Piazza Campo de' Fiori, which is a cool market for the best vegetables and fruit. Mercato Testaccio at Via Beniamino Franklin is an unmissable gastronomic centre for all food lovers. It is a great place to buy fresh Italian meat and home-made fresh pasta.

4. Which is your favourite food neighbourhood in Rome?

I love Campo de' Fiori because you can have great Italian food here, from fried cod fillet at Dar Filettaro to amazing mortadella pizza at Roscioli Bakery.

5. If you could hop onto a plane and fly anywhere in the world for a meal, where would you choose to eat and why?

I would go to New York City, which is home to Bib Gourmand restaurant Katz’s Delicatessen that serves the best pastrami in the world and the three-MICHELIN-starred Eleven Madison Park for great food and service.

6. When you are not travelling, what are always in your home fridge?

A lot of fresh vegetables, almond milk, some Grana Padano cheese and salami.

RELATED: Click here to view the Chef’s Travel Black Book series 

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