Fabio Viviani Shows Us ‘The Fort Knox of Pasta’ at Siena Tavern in Chicago

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Photo: Sky Full of Bacon

Fabio Viviani didn't win Season 5 of Top Chef, but he was clearly one of the show's winners in real life, his madcap Italian charm— part Mastroanni, part Marx Brother— made for TV. (Not surprisingly, he won Fan Favorite at the season's end.) The Los Angeles-based chef and restaurateur (Cafe Firenze, Firenze Osteria) turned it on for us when we visited Siena Tavern, his new Chicago restaurant which opens this Saturday, and it's fun to be told with full Italian braggadocio that his walk-in is "the Fort Knox of Pasta" or that his mother's lasagna recipe is going to lead to America giving "birth to a new concept of lasagna." But the next moment it becomes clear that he's serious, even reverent about Italian food, and that he's very earnest about opening in a city with a serious food rep and measuring up to the caliber of chefs already working here. In the first of two five-minute videos exclusively for Grub Street, Fabio talks about the housemade pasta program at Siena Tavern and invites us into his Fort Knox; on Thursday, he'll talk pizza. Watch the video below.