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Fiamma

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anyone have a link to this topic fiamma nyc probaly old micheal white was the chef

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Update:

Fabio Tribocchi is now Chef/Partner at Fiamma. Fabio was formerly at Maestro at the Ritz-Carlton McLean Va. Has anyone been to Fiamma since the change at the pass?

Jmahl


The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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Update: 

Fabio Tribocchi is now Chef/Partner at Fiamma.  Fabio was formerly at Maestro at the Ritz-Carlton McLean Va.  Has anyone been to Fiamma since the change at the pass?

Jmahl

Well, great... that saves me a trip to D.C. More good eating in NYC. :biggrin:

I heard that White is now over at L'Impero?


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

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Yes, it very veryvery very good.

Go.

You won't regret it.

The guys a genius. The room is better than it was before, but still not the best, but the food is about to be considered amongst the best in the city.

go now.

I cant really comment on the dessert program, seems above adequate.

also the sommoliers rock, bigtime.


does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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Update: 

Fabio Tribocchi is now Chef/Partner at Fiamma.  Fabio was formerly at Maestro at the Ritz-Carlton McLean Va.  Has anyone been to Fiamma since the change at the pass?

Jmahl

Well, great... that saves me a trip to D.C. More good eating in NYC. :biggrin:

I heard that White is now over at L'Impero?

Yes, White is now the Exec Chef at both L'Impero and Alto...basically took over for Conant at both. The menus seem slightly more traditional than when Conant was there, and they're trying to define them by having Alto be more "Northern" and L'Impero be more "Southern".

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I'm planning on going soon.

Richman has some interesting points about what is and isn't "Italian"...but it's an old debate.

I mean, A Voce is classified as Italian...but it's pretty French to me...

but I guess that's modern restaurant cuisine in general...it's really pretty globalized...

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I'll be going towards the end of the month. I'm very much looking forward to it.

As for what is Italian, it is many things, not one. Trabocchi is most certainly Italian. If the restaurant were in Italy would it still be questioned as to whether or not it is "Italian"?


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Following this topic the question of whether or not Fiamma is Italian is a pertinent one. My wife and I had the pleasure of dining there this past Friday evening with eGullet Society members Hathor and JosephB and their lovely spouses. This combination of people was actually a very interesting one given the people involved. Hathor and her husband as many of you know, recently opened an Italian restaurant in Montone, Umbria, Italy called Erba Luna. Though invested in the world of traditional Umbrian cuisine, they are interested in evolution and effective creativity as well. JosephB is the son of a traditional Italian chef and cooks the idiom of "classic" Italian as well as anyone I know who is not a professional chef and probably better than most in that category. He is primarily a traditionalist though he is not afraid to venture into new territory. I believe that I have left an eclectic trail of my interests and proclivities on this board and am a fan of effective cooking whether it be traditional or creative. Our spouses were all located within this range. I will present the dishes below along with some further discussion.

We were greeted warmly at the door by the hostess and taken to our table, a six-seater located a bit towards the rear of the room, though not far from the center of the room. The space was fine, though the table had an odd quirk to it. It was a square table with ends designed to be raised to complete a circular table. While this succeeded in providing us with ample dining space, each of those ends sagged slightly downward from the center of the table. This resulted in an inordinate number of utensils being jettisoned onto the floor when not carefully placed back onto the table or plate. Though amusing, especially since we didn't have anything more problematic fall into our laps, this is one of the little things that probably shouldn't happen at a restaurant with the aspirations that this one clearly has. The good news is that this minor foible was by far the worst part of the evening.

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We started with cocktails. Mine was Balance - Pear and White Pepper Vodka, Tanqueray Rangpur, Lillet and Moscato d'Asti. This was indeed a well balanced cocktail with just a hint of sweetness and an enjoyable, distinct flavor.

Being acquainted with Chef Trabocchi from the Starchefs International Chefs Congress this past September, he offered to cook for us. This was an offer we could not and did not refuse. All the dishes were from the menu. This was distinct from the degustation menu with more dishes and greater expense as we paid about $150pp not including drinks, wine, tax and gratuities.

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Amuses - Fritti- Served together, the one on the left were a take on stuffed squash blossoms. In this case, the blossoms were perfectly fried with the ricotta filling on the outside; on the right was fried opal basil with hamachi. Both were nicely cooked, flavorful, contemporary, but clearly "Italian" even if not all the ingredients were.

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Il Crudo Crudo of Ahi Tuna, Glidden Point Oysters, Sorrel. This dish really set the tone. It rocked. It was simple and complex at the same time. Not mentioned in the dish's title was a bit of lemon zing that was in there. The flavors continued to evolve and change over time in the mouth finishing with that wonderful lemony zing. Textural contrasts were also at play adding to the overall enjoyment of this extremely memorable dish. Notably, in Adam Platt's experience this was served with sardines or red mullet on top of the oyster. That was clearly not the case here. Italian? Why not? Crudos are certainly accepted in other restaurants considered Italian like Esca. Was this overly ornate to be "Italian?" The preparation actually appeared to be fairly simple with a few technical twists and minor embellishments, but then Italy was the country that brought us the Baroque and this is certainly not nearly so ornate to be considered Baroque. That the flavors were complex is true, though the individual ingredients shone through. Classic Italian, no. Modern Italian, absolutely.

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IL Carpaccio Duo of Kobe Beef: Carpaccio and Tartare. Carpaccio and tartare are classic Italian dishes. These have been tweaked with the use of tofu and a japanese breed of beef rather than the Italian Chianina for example. Do those things make this any less Italian? The tartare preparation was basically classic served with shaved parmiggiano and a quail egg. The carpaccio was more inventive, but still "Italian" in terms of derivation, conception and flavor despite the Asian influence of beef breed and tofu. The duxelle of mushrooms on top added earthy notes, but did not make the dish any less "Italian" either.

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Le Lumache e Le Caposante Casserole of Snails, Taylor Bay Scallops, Country Bread, Parsley. This dish would be equally at home in a French restaurant as well as Italian, though it is no less Italian as a result It was indeed a brilliant dish with great depth of flavor even as the individual ingredients were exquisitely discernible. The scallops, in particular, were wonderful.

For the first few dishes we had a flavorful, yet balancing Muller Thurgau, Tiefenbrunner ‘Feldmarschall’, Trentino 2005. The wine service was superb throughout with recommendations that highlighted the dishes even though they were not necessarily intuitive. Though the wines chosen were not cheap, they were very, very good and not designed to break the bank.

At this point we moved on to a red wine, Rivetti (Dante) ‘Bricco de Neueis’, Riserva 1996. It still retained adequate fruit though it had a little bottle age

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Gli Spaghetti Latini Spaghetti, "Aglio-Olio," Peperoncino, West Coast Sea Urchin. I don't think I need to belabor the Italianness of this dish as it would fit into most people's preconceptions of what "Italian" is with food. BTW, it was marvelous. The creamy sea urchin was balanced by a bit of bite from the peperoncino. This was decidedly and deliciously classic in approach.

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Il Rombo Turbot, Roasted on the Bone, Littleneck clams, Cauliflower "Stufati," Burro Nocciola. This was another marvelous dish. The turbot was moist and flavorful emboldened by the brown butter sauce and brightened by the clams. The "stufati" added texture. The barbaresco worked beautifully with this dish in particular.

Our final wine was a barolo, Gaja ‘Gromis’ 1999. This is not one of Gaja's flagship wines, though it was still excellent and worked beautifully in the context of this meal, especially with the next course...

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IL Foie Gras Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Piemontese Grape Chutney, Chestnut Cream This preparation was decidedly on the savory side and not one that was laden with overt sweetness. The wine provided a sensational match. Unfortunately, by this time my wife was getting so full, she couldn't eat hers and I was getting so full that I couldn't eat hers either!

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Il Capretto Baby Goat Three Ways, Romanesco, Spaetzle and Herbs. The kid was perfectly cooked and balanced by elements that each fit into the "Italian" kitchen. Each of the ingredients, especially the main, shone.

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Dessert Amuse - Quince - Jelly and Gelato Simply presented and refreshing as a pre-dessert should be.

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Il Cioccolato Ganache of 70% Tuscan Amadei Chocolate, Sicilian Pistachio, Coco Gel, Basil Ice Cream This is a decidedly modern dessert, but with Italian ingredients. It worked.

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La Mela Brown Butter Cake, Apple Butter, Ricotta Gelato Simple and marvelous. The glass held an apple consommé that was included with this course. It was a perfect accompaniment to the cake, which toned down the sweetness of the consommé. Pastry Chef Tom Wellings came with Chef Trabocchi from Maestro in D.C. They clearly work well together.

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Pear Spherifications. This was a relative weakness as the skins of the spheres were a little too thick leaving little "pop" inside. They were tasty, however.

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After dinner chocolates - nicely executed.

If this restaurant were in Italy, there would be people decrying its modernity, but few questioning its being "Italian." That it is in NYC, brings on the question. If it is not accepted ultimately as "Italian", I suspect that it will be due to the non-Italian nature of those drawing the conclusion and not the nature of the chef or the food.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Bruni drops the trey on Fiamma.  Perhaps this is the review that the original Alto wanted?  Or something like that.

He did give it three stars, but jumped on the bandwagon to question its "Italianness," essentially calling it "French." I wonder if there isn't a little self interest there in that one of the major criticisms of Bruni is his apparent bias for Italian food. By claiming that Fiamma is not really Italian helps deflect that criticism a little.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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He did give it three stars, but jumped on the bandwagon to question its "Italianness," essentially calling it "French." I wonder if there isn't a little self interest there in that one of the major criticisms of Bruni is his apparent bias for Italian food. By claiming that Fiamma is not really Italian helps deflect that criticism a little.

I can't help thinking that if it were called La Flamme and had a French chef, it would be two stars, max.

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Occam's razor says Bruni simply didn't think the place was Italian. Especially given that the other critics are (incorrectly, I believe, based on what I've read about the food) saying the same thing. What puzzles me is the labeling compulsion that so many people share. To me it represents a rejection of individuality and creativity, and a reductionist notion of what a cuisine is. Based just on the dish descriptions, photos, etc., it seems quite clear that Fiamma is serving Trabocchi's interpretation of Italian cuisine.

And let's not forget the Italian influence on both French and New American cuisines. French cuisine has changed a lot in the past few decades, much of it due to both Asian and Italian influences. In 1994, Molly O'Neill wrote and article in the New York Times titled "Quel Shock! The Italianization Of French Cuisine." She went on at length about how chefs like Bocuse, Verge and Ducasse were being influenced by the Italian aesthetic of elegant simplicity. It's possible to point to Nice (which was part of Italy) for Mediterranean influences, but that's an excuse: the world owes the Mediterranean influence on several cuisines primary to Italy. New American cuisine takes it a step further, and it's no coincidence that some of the top New American chefs have names like Portale, Colicchio and Anthony.

As a result, many Americans accustomed to eating modern French and New American cuisine, in a city where the Italian cuisine has long been primitive by comparison, have defined many Italian contributions as French and New American, rather than observing that contemporary French cuisine is often French-Italian-Japanese and that New American cuisine is basically Italian-French-Japanese. So when a French chef cooks French-Italian-Japanese the restaurant is "Modern French with international influences" but when an Italian chef cooks Italian-French-Japanese the restaurant is decried as "French."


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Doc, How can we thank you enough for your contributions? Again another fabulous report and photos.

Hopefully the media will not focus on the question of whether or not Fiamma is Italian. Which I can only foresee that accomplishing nothing but distract from the amazing talent of Chef Trabocchi.

And needless to say I personally thank you for the momentary escape I got while reading your report. :smile:


Robert R

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Thanks, Robert.

One thing Bruni definitely got right is that regardless of how the restaurant is typed, the food is damn good. I agree with the three stars. Though the service is very good as is the wine list, I think that 4 stars would be a stretch at this time due to minor flaws like the table that I described. Trabocchi has 4 star talent though.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Richman is hardly an inexperienced diner. neither is Bruni (now).

labeling can be rather reductive, but from what I've seen, Fiamma is no more Italian than La Pergola or La Calandre (and there are plenty of people in Italy who would tell you that those restaurants are not "Italian")...

so...is it less "Italian" than Babbo? certainly. is it contemporary haute with an Italian emphasis? looks like it to me. in the same way that JG is contemporary haute with an Asian emphasis. I'm not sure that Bruni's formulation that Fiamma is a "poodle in a Prada scarf" isn't correct then.

he also says: "Would you find these entrees in Italy, even up north? Maybe, in a very fussy restaurant. In most others, no. And who cares? They’re prepared with finesse and they’re the definition of luxury, no matter the geography, no matter the language."

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labeling can be rather reductive, but from what I've seen, Fiamma is no more Italian than La Pergola or La Calandre (and there are plenty of people in Italy who would tell you that those restaurants are not "Italian")...
Labeling probably helps the restaurant. There's a reason why Zagat lists far more Italian restaurants than any other cuisine. If the label were "tough-to-pin-down," it would limit a restaurant's reach.

Though I haven't dined at Fiamma yet, it appears to me (from the photos and descriptions) that "Italian" is a more accurate label than any other you could use, and it's not so wide of the mark as to be deceptive.

he also says: "Would you find these entrees in Italy, even up north? Maybe, in a very fussy restaurant.

Bruni once again shows his fundamental limitation. He uses the word "fussy" a lot, and it is never a compliment.

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of course it's better classified "Italian" than French!

La Pergola and La Calandre are both 3 star Michelin restaurants in Italy after all (one has an Italian chef, one has a German chef). but they're out of the mainstream of the Italian cucina. so appears to be Fiamma in a way that Babbo is not.

part of the problem is that (as I was getting at with the JG analogy)...there now exists a form of international cuisine which could just be called "contemporary haute" or "cosmopolitan"....which also often has regional or national accents...

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Like it or not, the food at Fiamma is not Italian only to those who would keep the cuisine in a never-changing, never evolving little niche. Italian cuisine has always been an evolutionary one and this is but another example of that evolution. As experienced as Richman, Bruni and Platt may be, they clearly have their preconceptions which are exposed with this restaurant. I haven't read a compelling case for why this food conceived and prepared by an Italian based on his Italian experience isn't "Italian."

Ultimately, considering this is NYC, the only truly important element is that the food is very, very good regardless of the label one is comfortable placing on it.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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[
he also says: "Would you find these entrees in Italy, even up north? Maybe, in a very fussy restaurant.

Bruni once again shows his fundamental limitation. He uses the word "fussy" a lot, and it is never a compliment.

except that he gave Fiamma three stars.

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except that he gave Fiamma three stars.

Oh, true enough; he has to give three or four stars to somebody. But usually it's because they have managed to overcome his aversion to a set of traits that he invariably calls "fussy". It is always a drawback to him.

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Docsconz: Thank you for a wonderful report of your dinner. I am guessing by your description of one of your unnamed dining companions, you had an incredible selection of wines, too. What an amazing night!

Just a footnote to the whole "Is he/isn't he" question and Bruni's review. The latter doesn't bother me all that much given its appreciation of Trabocchi's food and the lack of concern the critic expresses when confronted with the problem of classifying the menu. But I do find the notes about lasagna interesting in light of the collaborative effort of several eGullet members to cook our way through discrete regions of Italy.

Here's what Bruni exclaims first:

Would you find these entrees in Italy, even up north?... Can a lasagna with as little sunshine and as much stormy intensity as Mr. Trabocchi’s justly call itself lasagna? And can a restaurant with food as ornate, saucy and creamy as Fiamma’s rightly call itself Italian?...  It owes its classically indulgent soul to France.

One of the signs of French finesse is a lightness which Bruni attributes to the miserly use of flour in first courses such as gnocchi or lasagna:

He takes flour, too, out of what might otherwise be a béchamel for the lasagna. What does he leave in? Well, a reduction of chicken stock and cream, which is layered with noodles and with a ragù of veal sweetbreads, chicken livers, chicken gizzards, prosciutto and more. Around the lasagna goes veal jus. And chanterelle mushrooms, for some additional dark magic.

The description evokes a very courtly dish that Lynne Rossetto Kasper, herself, riffs upon slightly in The Splendid Table, her incredible book on the food of Emilia-Romagna.

First there is the sauce that reminds me of ragu de nobili which I described last December:

...the ragu features diced boneless chicken thighs that one sautés with minced pancetta, Italian sausage, giblets, a little ground beef and the customary battuto (mirepoix). White wine, a pinch of cloves, bay leaf, crushed garlic and a generous dab of tomato paste are gradually added with small amounts of stock. Once everything is incorporated, including more stock, the ragu simmers for less than an hour since small, browned bits of chicken dominate the mixture. This is a welcome change from other ragus. Instead of adding milk early in the procedure, a little heavy cream finishes the sauce. That last step is the sweep of the Fairy Godmother's wand: the giblets are transformed from something funky to an assertive, sweet element.
*Reference in full.

It sounds as if Trabocchi caters to contemporary tastes by underplaying the sweetness of his savory dish. Not to imply that he consciously appropriates the rich 16th-century fare of Cristoforo da Messisbugo, but here's a brief description of lasagne Duchi di Ferrara:

...noodles [layered] with the [ragu de nobili], Parmesan, slivers of Prosciutto di Parma, plumped golden raisins, toasted pine nuts, a drizzle of heavy cream and a pinch of cinnamon...One of the best things I have made this year. Luxurious, close enough to the familiar to be not scary, and with thin sheets of lasagna, a small amount of cream instead of bechamel, not at all heavy.
*Cf. Post 76.
Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Looking at your photos is almost as good as being there. I thought the food was wonderful, delicious, satisfying, intriguing and Italian.

The chef is Italian, and this is his personal, Italian vision. The classic roots of Italian cooking were present in every dish (except maybe for the pear orbs, no, I take that back...the olive oil and the bit of salt were very Italian). No, you won't find these dishes in northern Italy because this chef is creating his own recipes, not reinterpreting classics. There is nothing wrong, or French, about an Italian chef pushing the borders of Italian cuisine.

Aside from the table slant issue, which you have to wonder why it hasn't been corrected, the wait staff told us they are used to things rolling off that table, so it's not anew problem; my only criticism might be that the portions were too large for a tasting menu.

My husband and I wanted to go to Fiamma because we wanted to taste the work of a chef who is enriching and enlarging the Italian experience and we may be poorer in the wallet, but we are richer for the experience.

John, thank you so much for setting up this evening. It was memorable and very, very enjoyable, an evening of great food, wine and conversation. Grazie mille.

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Even the best food in the wrong company is poor. That was a great meal!


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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