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13-05-2023

Luciano Monosilio's Follie is so good

The king of carbonara has opened a second restaurant in Rome that is anything but traditional. This is why, the name praises creative madness. It’s already excellent, in a five-star luxury hotel on the Janiculum, Villa Agrippina

For everyone, even far from Rome, Luciano Monosilio is synonymous of carbonara, first thanks to his collaboration with Alessandro Pipero, then with his own restaurant Luciano Cucina Italiana in Piazza del Teatro di Pompeo, telephone +39.06.51531465. Tradition and more tradition. But last autumn, this chef, whom I have always held in high esteem, also took a second path whose only thing in common with the first is that it is also in Rome. Otherwise, the neighbourhood is different, the location is different and the restaurant and cuisine are different too.

Riso ajo e ojo with rice Oschiena creamed with extra virgin olive oil, salted chilli sauce, sweet garlic slaw and parsley mousse

Riso ajo e ojo with rice Oschiena creamed with extra virgin olive oil, salted chilli sauce, sweet garlic slaw and parsley mousse

We move from a lunch and dinner offer in a highly pop place, which will be even more so with the opening of a wine bar and cocktail bar in the basement, open until late at night, to a place that is all about innovation and luxury. Follie, this is the name of the new establishment, is the gourmet restaurant at Villa Agrippina, the Gran Hotel Melia on the Janiculum, a five-star luxury hotel that should be sought after with a minimum of care, a space where guests retreat to when they have finished visiting Rome in the afternoon.

Tagliolini with wild herbs and chicory, with cannolicchi and brunoise of celery and carrots; pasta made with egg whites only

Tagliolini with wild herbs and chicory, with cannolicchi and brunoise of celery and carrots; pasta made with egg whites only

As for Follie, it needs a careful and constant testing phase, zero rush to impress and burn out. The rule should apply to everyone, even more so in this case since it is not easy to pick up customers. Either you live there, or you have to go there on purpose, by car. There are no passing customers, and this also explains why it’s closed at lunchtime. And it’s nice to know that Monosilio has not created two separate brigades, one for Luciano Cucina Italiana and one for Villa Agrippina. Cooks and dining room service rotate according to a set schedule. In a nutshell: everyone knows how to do everything, each person according to their talents which, unfortunately or fortunately, are never the same from person to person.

Rollé of leg and saddle of lamb with a disc of marinated anchovies, anchovy emulsion and raspberries, served with its jus

Rollé of leg and saddle of lamb with a disc of marinated anchovies, anchovy emulsion and raspberries, served with its jus

Let's meet them, starting from hotel manager Andrea Fiorentini. Then there’s the chef, with chef de cuisine Andrea Zucchi, pastry chef Roberta La Piana, restaurant manager Francesco Minotti, maitre Mario Garofalo and sommelier Valerio Erba. The room is just large enough, with high ceilings, bookcases, spaced tables, comfortable chairs. It feels like dining in the library of a noble palace, very relaxing. The rest is what the owner has called Not Ordinary Fine Dining. And it really is, with guests invited to choose between the 4-course course for 110 euros or the 8-course course for 160 euros. With one clear difference. The first is called Per me, because it’s the table that directs the kitchen; the second Per te, because it’s the chef who decides what to serve.

Pea panna cotta and wasabi with roasted onion broth and horseradish sorbet

Pea panna cotta and wasabi with roasted onion broth and horseradish sorbet

My journey among local ingredients -  basically sourced in Rome and Lazio – was long and convincing. It was enhanced by aromas or classic preparations, such as Mexican mole, borrowed from various parts of the world. And in fact Mole, egg and offal was the only dish I did not find in perfect balance of flavours, with the sauce covering the yolk and lamb offal.

Luciano Monosilio

Luciano Monosilio

Lamb was the evening's common thread, a bit like a karst river. It wasn’t obvious, however, but then there was the Lamb tortello, cream, pecorino and mint, the lamb with lapsang tea, anchovies and raspberries, the lamb skewer with oyster mayonnaise and green curry sauce. Double sweet finale with Pea panna cotta with wasabi, and Cacio e pere, with pears instead of the pepper... The dish I found most exciting? The Carnaroli rice ajo e ojo, with chilli sauce and parsley mousse. Powerful and persuasive, nothing gratuitously aggressive, the grains well defined.

A final note for those in Rome who like to celebrate, always, everywhere and on all occasions at least a classic pasta dish: yes, you’ll also find the Carbonara Monosilio style on the menu.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


Affari di Gola di Paolo Marchi

A mouth watering page, published every Sunday in Il Giornale from November 1999 to the autumn of 2010. Stories and personalities that continue to live in this website

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Paolo Marchi

born in Milan in March 1955, at Il Giornale for 31 years dividing himself between sports and food, since 2004 he's the creator and curator of Identità Golose.
blog www.paolomarchi.it
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