A spoon with one of the ravioli from Un coniglio al mare, a dish from the Parallels Experience menu at Il Pagliaccio in Rome. Chef Anthony Genovese is in a state of grace. Photo Tanio Liotta
Against the attrition of certain modern catering, one gladly relies on the masters. Against the attrition of certain modern catering, master Anthony Genovese at Il Pagliaccio takes a step backwards and a million forwards: he fully recovers that biting, brilliant, innovative and no-holds-barred style that is in his DNA and thus dishes us his best course ever, at least in our opinion. It verges on perfection. The chef returns faithful to his own fascinating identity. Though it has always characterised him, in recent years he seemed to have programmatically blunted a little in order to be more inclusive. Now he has taken it up again. He no longer hides it but flaunts it in a dedicated menu, called Parallels. He multiplies it by a thousand. He distils it in its essence. He has even created its apotheosis as a reasoned summa because it is mediated by greater structure, awareness and maturity than there inevitably could have been in the past (our last visit to Moreno Cedroni's, a few months ago, comes to mind, read here: same outcome, as good as ever. Cedroni was born in 1964, Genovese is four years younger: one would think that the two, among our most innovative and avant-garde historical chefs, have found their ideal point of equilibrium when, through temporal sedimentation, they achieved the impeccable balance between creativity and experience. And so they are in a state of grace).
Anthony Genovese with chef de cuisine Francesco Di Lorenzo and sous chef Giulio Zoli. Photo Aromi.Group
The venue is the same. But the format is different, exclusive, reserved for a maximum of six guests per evening. A single table in a private room (bookable on Il Pagliaccio's website), to experience a dynamic journey of taste between the Mediterranean and Asia.
The Parallels Experience room. Photo Aromi.Group
The tasting is excellently accompanied by Matteo Zappile and Luca Belleggia, with many surprises. Now comes, for example, this goblet of Golden Ceylon black tea flavoured with rum, dehydrated apples and vanilla
One could go on. But let's move to the photos, from by Tanio Liotta.
Crispy pineapple waffles: right with shallot, pineapple and apple chutney with wild mizuna leaves; left with lentil dal, mango vinegar and mint leaves
Cream of white polenta, black cabbage compote, Lapsang Souchong tea gel
Finger food dedicated to the life of Genovese, who was born in Upper Savoy to parents from Calabria and then travelled extensively for work, especially to the Far East: so, in a mock durian, three bites: Chestnut tartlet stuffed with bread mousse and cocoa and yeast powder, then Jerusalem artichoke chip (the dried outer part, inside a cream of Jerusalem artichoke, hazelnuts and Iranian caviar); and Carrot taco with fermented kiwi cream, black beans and oyster leaf
Like a tatin. A puff pastry stuffed with celeriac, Pink Lady apple, potatoes seasoned with five spices (various peppers, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, cloves), flakes of champignons and porcini mushrooms, plankton powder, porcini powder
The oyster: Verneuil oyster, meaty and savoury, grilled and then placed in hot beef broth. Accompanied by a palette of earthy and marine elements to be mixed at will: oxtail filleted like oxtail alla vaccinara, oyster and sea cress emulsion, daikon with yuzu, reduced smoked beef broth. The whole, with a flaky bread
Quick pass of the guinea fowl cooking in a bread crust. See you later!
Pigeon in Peking, that is, pigeon as a Peking duck. Then a buckwheat crepe to be stuffed with herbs, steamed abalone, smoked pigeon breast carpaccio seasoned with salt and anchovy, vegetable julienne, Xo sauce. All with pigeon liver quenelles
Next, pigeon leg lacquered with Pekingese sauce and wild mizuna. Pigeon broth seasoned with aniseed and almonds is sipped on the side
The noodles: rice flour noodles whipped with cream of scorzonera, smoked scamorza cheese, drops of clove oil, pure scorzonera, smoked, dehydrated and grated beef pastrami. A mixed grill water completes the dish
A rabbit by the sea: ravioli made from different types of flour and stuffed with a rabbit ragout like a rabbit alla cacciatora (thigh and shoulders infused in seawater, whipped with rabbit jus and cream of sea anemones). On the surface, sea hearts, similar to clams, breaded with bread and squid ink. Finally, preserved sea fennel and seaweed percebe
Ripartiamo dal brodo: three dumplings, the first with roasted celery, the second with burnt carrot, the third with onion cooked in salt. On the base a black garlic oil and vegetable dashi broth made from celery, carrot and onion
Here comes the bread: grissini with crusco peppers and marjoram sprinkled with smoked paprika and polenta flour; focaccia with wild fennel seeds; white bread to be accompanied by an excellent Calabrian oil, Ottobratico, obviously from the Ottobratica cultivar. It is produced by the Olearia San Giorgio in San Giorgio Morgeto (Reggio Calabria), on Aspromonte, in short, in the area of origin of Genovese's family. In fact, the chef has discovered that some of the land from which Ottobratico is produced today was formerly his ancestors'
The tandoori lobster: lobster cooked in tandoori butter (i.e. with a mix of spices), then grilled mango and garam masala foam. Next, a crème fraîche with seaweed and a mikado with bitter cocoa
To accompany, sticky rice, but not in the dessert version: rice cooked in dashi, stir-fried, then seasoned with lobster tails, Pantelleria capers and edible flowers
The guinea fowl: it is cooked in a bread crust, as we have seen before. The breast is finished on the bbq, then accompanied with dark beer sauce, quince cream and, on the side, a pithivier...
Here is the pithivier, stuffed with guinea fowl shoulder and leg, its liver and black truffle. The only dish that is not perfect on the whole menu, as it is a bit dry
As a side dish, chickpeas cooked in grappa and pink grapefruit juice and then seasoned with guinea fowl jus and herbs
The leek: it is baked in Verjus, finished on the bbq and accompanied by slices of avocado marinated in sake. On the base, leek water flavoured with apple cider and drops of dandelion oil. On the surface: sweet and sour grapes, pistachios and violets
A cheese idea: the bridge between salty and sweet. Lentils cooked in kumquat juice, then robiola langarola ice cream with three milks (cow, sheep and goat), kumquat beaten and vanilla wafer
Sablé pastry wafer, salted caramel cream, dehydrated apple powder
Passion flower: 85% dark chocolate, passion flower-flavoured Chantilly cream, hazelnut sorbet, passion fruit seeds (of which passion flower is the flower)
Anacaprese: almond flour, lemon dough, white chocolate, lemon cream, yuzu gel
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso
An outdoor trip or a journey to the other side of the planet?
One thing is for sure: the destination is delicious, by Carlo Passera
journalist born in 1974, for many years he has covered politics, mostly, and food in his free time. Today he does exactly the opposite and this makes him very happy. As soon as he can, he dives into travels and good food. Identità Golose's editor in chief