What Has Fabio Trabocchi’s New York Welcome Been Like?

Chef Fabio Trabocchi recently left Maestro in McLean for New York’s SoHo. Photograph courtesy of Maestro.

Back in August, chef Fabio Trabocchi left the country-clubby elegance at Maestro in the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner for New York’s SoHo, where he presides over the kitchen at the more casually chic Fiamma. Now that Trabocchi—and the crew of 12 he brought from Maestro—have had some time to adjust, how are New Yorkers taking to his mod-Italian artistry?

New York magazine’s Insatiable Critic (a.k.a. Gael Greene) calls the “movie-star handsome” chef’s cooking a “complex dazzle.” There’s “voluptuous” burrata, “with tomato, three ways, arranged like jewels” and “taste-stirring” Dover sole layered with olives, red pepper, and lemon zest. And yet. “At times a too-intense sauce sabotages an otherwise brilliant notion. . . . Roasted turbot with cipollini and housemade pancetta showily draped in thin slices of raw mushroom would be splendid rescued from the nuggety swamp it sits in.”

Meanwhile, New York food blog Grub Street deconstructs Trabocchi’s porchetta, “the most intensely rural and down-market of dishes.” Not in Trabocchi’s sous-vide-happy, fennel-pollen-sprinkling hands it’s not.

At the New York Times, Florence Fabricant gives Trabocchi a longer, biography-heavy profile. She calls his arrival at Fiamma “big news” and a “coup” for restaurateur Stephen Hanson. (His B.R. Guest restaurant group also owns more pedestrian spots like Ruby Foo’s and Dos Caminos.) Trabocchi, who is now a partner in Fiamma, tells Fabricant he’d always had his sights set on Manhattan; it was just a matter of the right time.



Over at Eater, there’s an IM-style report from an early friends-and-family preview.

eaterhq: And how about chef Fabio Trabocchi?
iheartchefs: dinner was lovely. not the A+ it was in DC, but that’s understandable. I ate in DC when he was solidly in the zone. He’s just getting into NYC.
eaterhq: got it
iheartchefs: but some of it is home run.
iheartchefs: he’ll end up one of NYC’s best.
eaterhq: outlandish prediction, check.

Even the DailyCandy gals cop to “bellies rumbling.” They offer up Trabocchi’s recipe for Le Marche-style risotto with lemon and cinnamon.

On Gourmet magazine’s blog Choptalk, editor Ruth Reichl says the chef is “off to a running start” with dishes that are “small, pretty, and precise.” Remember those Maestro signatures, lobster ravioli and carpaccio-wrapped tofu? They’re both here, the ravioli “cooked to gossamer lightness,” the carpaccio made from “adorable slivers of Wagyu.” Still, she wonders whether “New Yorkers, who have never been kind to fancy Italian food, will take to his style.”

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.