Heinz Beck starts again from wellbeing and takes you to Paradise, up there at La Pergola

The chef is unstoppable: he has written two books, continues researching healthy menus (now also offered in Fiuggi) and presents plenty of new praiseworthy dishes, in Rome’s three-starred restaurant

07-09-2020

Heinz Beck starts again from wellbeing. He starts from what he studied during the Covid confinement, given he’s a nerd and so of course he could not just spend March and April watching Netflix from the sofa in his house in Rome. Never. So here he is at work, writing a couple of books (why only one?) and taking care of the food line at Grand Hotel Palazzo della Fonte in Fiuggi, which recently became part of the Forte Village group: «I’ve already prepared three lines: weight management, detox and anti-age. Something very… challenging. You need creativity, you must be innovative, scientifically rigorous, respecting the amount of calories. And the food must still be tasty. I even studied days with a liquid diet of 900 calories…». And sinking in this liquid is sweet to me.

Heinz Beck at Identità Golose 2019

Heinz Beck at Identità Golose 2019

Grand Hotel Palazzo della Fonte

Grand Hotel Palazzo della Fonte

All stop. It’s time for the aperitif, on the nineth floor of the Rome Cavalieri hotel, sitting in the lounge. I’m holding a glass of Champagne, he has just water, perhaps not even sparkling. From time to time Heinz tells off some collaborator, he answers the phone someone brings him, speaks with the ambassador of a Balkan republic who asks for a table that night («Every day I must say no to seven or eight people who call me in person and say: come on, I can’t believe you won’t find me a table. But the restaurant is really always full»). I think of the healthy change made by this steel chef from Bavaria whom I’ve known for twenty years, when he wasn’t as famous as now, and from time to time we would go to the cinema together, on his day off, a Monday (or was it a Sunday?).

Beck always at work. The photo is from the 24th of July. The caption: "We’re working at the new menu... Stay tuned!"

Beck always at work. The photo is from the 24th of July. The caption: "We’re working at the new menu... Stay tuned!"

I wonder about the dinner that awaits me. In other words, healthy eating is fine, a concept on which Beck has been working hard for years, but I’m here to have a great meal, the lockdown and almost three months without restaurants have made me crave great dishes, and I don’t need to lose weight, or detox, after all. But could it be that things have changed? No, they haven’t. Dining at La Pergola is always a memorable experience, and there’s Rome below, wrapped in the golden afternoon light that becomes night, showing all its beauty, and there’s Marco Reitano who is a dear friend, and pampers me and my companion as if that morning he had woken up only with that specific goal, and nothing else, and has us drink first a Chardonnay and then a Pinot Noir Auxey-Duresses, in Burgundy, and between one wine and the other he shows us a picture of his son Jacopo on his mobile phone.

What a view...

What a view...

And above all, there’s Heinz’s first post-Covid menu, with some dishes from the rebirth, and some that are classics he simply cannot take off the menu. The first dish is part of the former, Seafood on a carpaccio of watermelon with cherry tomatoes, in which the marinade is made with birch, the tree of longevity, of immortality. On the hot stone that comes with the dish they sprinkle some jasmine, the emblem of spring that turns into female sensuality. And then there’s Scampi on avocado with tapioca, lemongrass and limeLobster in a spicy wrapping, on a cream of almonds with cherries marinated with verbena and Turkish rose, a dish of literary decadence. Then there’s Mullet with celery and caper sauce, Lamb with black lentils and buttermilk with ashVeal sweetbreads with red fruits and basil. In between the immortal Fagottelli alla Pergola, a sort of interiorised carbonara, Freud and back. At the end, Cream of macadamia and lemon with apricot gel. Boom.

«Rebirth. This is the keyword on which we are building our new menu. The first dish we created was Watermelon carpaccio, marinated in an infusion of birch, cardamom, ginger, lemongrass and jasmine with seafood. It’s an emblematic dish that, through the birch, which represents life, is also a symbol of this new beginning»

«Rebirth. This is the keyword on which we are building our new menu. The first dish we created was Watermelon carpaccio, marinated in an infusion of birch, cardamom, ginger, lemongrass and jasmine with seafood. It’s an emblematic dish that, through the birch, which represents life, is also a symbol of this new beginning»

The immortal Fagottelli alla Pergola

The immortal Fagottelli alla Pergola

I don’t know if the dinner was healthy, dear Heinz. I know it did me good, and it doesn’t matter which food line it was, if I lost some weight, some signs of age, or some toxins. I know I now feel better, that the lockdown is one step further away, while Rome has become a carpet of lights that rolls out under my feet, and I love the world and understand the ambassador who tried until the end to steal my table but luckily didn’t make it, and who must have made do with a Rocher.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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Reviews, recommendations and trends from Italy, signed by all the authors of Identità Golose