Walking up to the front door of the newly opened FIRENZE OSTERIA, I read a saying on the wall “In order to get a good hug, you have to give one first.” This is a mantra that the owners Fabio Viviani, Jacopo Falleni and Lisa Long, teach their staff daily.
Fabio Viviana is living a dream come true and enjoying a wonderful new chapter in his life. No wonder he won Fan Favorite on the Emmy award show – TOP CHEF. He exudes charm.
Born and raised in the Tuscany region, Fabio became passionate about food and cooking at the age of twelve. He loved hanging around a popular restaurant near his home. One night, when the head chef cut himself badly, he allowed Fabio to finish cooking the evening meals. It was his chance to prove himself as a creative chef, and impress every diner that evening. He succeeded. Fabio knew then, that being a chef was his destiny.
After attending the Culinary Institute in Florence, Italy, he spent months working for free alongside master chefs. Using cutting edge technology, he perfected his Northern Italian comfort-style cooking.
Friends since they were twelve, Jacopo Falleni, the famed mixologist (makes an incredible strawberry-balsamic martini), trained at a Sommelier school in Italy, and moved to New York City. After 9/11, he traveled to California and worked at Café Fiore in Ventura, CA. When the restaurant needed a new Head Chef, Jacopo encouraged Fabio to fly across the Atlantic and start a new life in America. This dynamic-duo spent sixteen hours a day working in the restaurant. When an opportunity to open a new restaurant in Moorpark, CA was offered to them, they happily accepted the invitation and made it a success. Their restaurant, Café Firenze brought a dining sensation into the sleepy family community of Moorpark. The city embraced these two talented young men and Café Firenze was an overnight sensation. William Shatner dined there often, as did others from all around Southern California.
After filming Top Chef, Fabio became a superstar. Bravo offered him to star in another show. Executives from the Today show and Ellen extended invitations to appear on their shows. Fabio became a celebrity chef in demand.
When Lisa Long met Fabio and Jacopo, she realized they were the perfect team to revamp her restaurant in Universal City and offered them an opportunity they couldn’t pass up.
As we sat inside the warm and romantic dining room talking about Fabio and Jacopo’s journey, we started with Pancetta wrapped Jumbo Prawns filled with Italian Sharp Gorgonzola on a bed of baby spinach. It was superb. Next we tried the Crispy Duck Salad, with shredded duck, wild mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and toasted pine-nuts served on mixed greens. Another favorite is Ravioli di Brasato – Braised Short Ribs Ravioli covered in a Taleggio Sauce and 25-Year aged Balsamic Vinegar.
The Los Angeles area has longed for a place like FIRENZE OSTERIA – Good food, a fun atmosphere and a great hug. FIRENZE OSTERIA, 4241 Lankershim Blvd. Universal City; (818) 760-7081.