Rogerio Fasano is all about the grand narratives - something that is seen not only in his exuberant telling of the Fasano family history, but also more immediately upon visiting any one of the Fasano hotels and restaurants that span the vastness of South America and beyond. Whether it’s in the iconic entrance to the Sao Paulo flagship that conceals all hint of a conventional check-in process by way of an opulent bar, or in the filmic romance of the secluded cabanas that make up the Fasano resort in Punta Del Este… Rogerio has woven journeys - narrative experiences - into the heart of his bricks and mortar work.
Lets start though with the slightly more humble beginnings of the Fasano story and Rogerio’s great grandfather, Vittorio, who founded a bistro in Sao Paulo, 1902. It was Vittorio’s son Ruggero however - the first of the Italian Fasano clan to be born on Brazilian soil - who really made the Fasano name, with the eponymous restaurant he opened in 1930. It was an establishment that would experience great rises and falls in fortunes over the course of the twentieth century.
“My grandfather [Ruggero] kept the restaurant well into the 40s and 50s, until he died in 1968,” says Rogerio. “It was famous not only for the restaurant but also for the parties and shows he would cater: Nat King Cole singing, the president having dinner amongst the likes of Ginger Rogers, Marlene Dietrich…” Rogerio pauses briefly in his expansive monologue on the history of Fasano. “…But in 1968 he died, and my father, who was already running a very successful business making whiskeys in Brazil, closed the restaurant.”
The restaurant would remain closed until the early 1980s, which is where we rejoin the Fasano clan. The once booming business of Rogerio’s father Fabrizio was suffering, and the young Rogerio was recalled to Brazil from London where he had been studying filmmaking. “I was born very rich and then suddenly I heard that my father had lost everything” he says. By chance, his return meant that he was present when an old business partner of his father tried to persuade Fabrizio to open a new Fasano restaurant in his mall as a way of reviving his fortunes. Fabrizio told his friend firmly that no, the restaurant business was far too risky but it sparked a desire in Rogerio, who had been very close to his grandfather and increasingly passionate about his family history. “I was 19 years old and when I told my father I wanted to do it, he said it was crazy - he was born into his father having a restaurant: no weekends, no family life… he didn’t recommend it at all.”
Rogerio was determined however, and after fighting to buy back the family name that was languishing unused by a company that his father sold the naming rights to, he opened a very small but very successful restaurant he christened Fasino. From there he expanded to a full rebirth of the Fasano restaurant in Sao Paulo, which was also a roaring success in a way that would have made his grandfather proud - formal dining that was also “very trendy.” After some years, a hotel became the next logical step for Rogerio. At least, it seemed logical to him - convincing others of his vision took some time…
“It became an obsession,” he says. “I bought this piece of land but it took me ten years before I could build it, because no one believed it could be successful, this small hotel that I wanted.” Rogerio’s vision for a hyper-luxurious boutique hotel of sixty rooms or so was completely at odds with the commercial behemoths that dominated the Brazilian hotel world. When asked why he was so sure that his hotel would be a success despite so much resistance, Rogerio laughs, “I was not ever sure! But I just knew what I wanted to do.” He goes on to quote Henry Ford’s famous remark on his revolutionary motor cars by way of explaining his conviction, “If I had asked the people what they wanted, Ford supposedly said, "They would have said faster horses."
The pay-off for such self-belief was remarkable, and the original Fasano hotel/restaurant has become an icon of luxury hospitality revered throughout the world, whilst remaining intrinsically Brazilian. Rogerio is keen to stress this element, “it is so full of local people, and when you come here you feel like you are living in Sao Paulo. It’s a hotel that belongs to the city - unlike, say, the Four Seasons which is a spectacular hotel but actual New Yorkers would never go there for a drink.” Unsurprisingly, this feeling wasn’t cultivated by chance. “I always said a restauranteur can make a hotel, but not vice versa.
When I moved Fasano [restaurant] inside the hotel, I made sure that it didn’t simply become a ‘hotel restaurant’. So we hid everything that is ‘hotel’ about the place. When you first walk in, instead of seeing a check-in desk there is a huge bar and then you see the restaurant. You don’t see the hotel at all unless you are there for that specific reason. This creates a very different atmosphere.” This extends to the multitude of other hotels and restaurants that Rogerio has built, from the “perfectly positioned” Rio hotel to the “weird but great cabanas” that make up Punta Del Este, his way of making the most out of Uruguay’s very short high-season.
Again, you hear a sense of narrative at play in this way that Rogerio approaches his business: it is about the experience, the events that play out. He talks passionately about not just the food and the service of his restaurants but also the architecture and the lighting. “My favourite restaurants in the world are actually not about chefs” he shrugs. “They are about the owners. It’s very rare to find a chef’s restaurant that also has a nice saloon.”
Inevitably talk eventually turns to the film world, that great narrative form that has been a key love of Rogerio’s for much longer than hotels and restaurants have been. He waxes lyrical about the majesty of his favourite directors, from Francis Ford Coppola - “I had lunch with Coppola when he was staying at the Fasano in Rio, it must have been the worst lunch of his life, I just kept quoting the Godfather at him!” - to the master of the spaghetti Western, Sergio Leone. Leone was the auteur behind Rogerio’s all-time favourite movie, Once Upon A Time In The West, which saw the supposedly infallible golden boy of American cinema, Henry Fonda, cast as one of the most wretched screen villains of all time. You can see why Rogerio is so enamoured with the film (and Fonda, who was the cover star for the first issue of a recently launched Fasano magazine).
No matter how enamoured he sounds when talking about his admiration for the Four Seasons hotel or Michelin starred food, Rogerio is never far from a wistful anecdote about being chased by skinheads through the streets of Brixton. Indeed, he could be describing Once Upon A Time…-era Fonda when he says of himself with a wink: “You know, I look very normal but I have a weird side…” Anecdotes about meeting Lou Reed and listening to The Clash are about to follow. “…I think of it as my punk side.”
By James Darton for Semaine.
Punta del Este
Rio de Janeiro
Guiletta spider passo corto (1956)
GE2 "Hammock" chair
Village perfumer hand wash
Vivino wine scanner
Round dining table
Ice machine maker
Single ajour sheet
Opala table lamp
2# nota di viaggio
Inside the Fasano Sao Paulo
“Architecture and lighting are very important parts of a restaurant, even more so than people realise. My favourite restaurants in the world are not about the chefs, they are about the owners, and I think I was the first in Brazil to think about it in this way.”
Rogerio’s favourite book is Magic Mountain, the influential German novel by Thomas Mann. The choice hints at a more reflective side to Rogerio, beyond the celebrity hang-outs and exuberant ambition. “The book is about someone who goes to a remote place in the alps for a week and ends up spending his whole life there. Maybe one day I’m going to live in a place where there is nobody besides me…”
A Hotelier's Travel Guide
The Italy of his ancestors will forever be a draw for Rogerio, but London remains Rogerio’s favourite world. He holds a special place in his heart though for Venice - “I could live there, and feel very proud that I know it well enough to be able to give tourist information for the city! Not many people can do that, it’s such a difficult place to navigate…”
Hydrocotton unisex slippers
Carry on cocktail kit
Schooner canvas tote bag
Small two-tone valet tray
MDR 100 wireless headphones
Henry pyjama shirt - artist edition
Black 10 pocket travel sweatpants
Centenary 28 inch suitcase with wheels
Chef Luca Gozzani's Special Recipe
“Cooking for me feels too close to working - I’m always worrying about whether people like what I have made. The days I have free, I want to read, watch sports and do nothing else!” With that in mind, Rogerio passed on a recipe from Luca Gozzani, who has been head chef at the original Sao Paulo Fasano since 2012.
For the Filling
Put the olive oil in a pan. Once it starts to fry, add the onion and then the meat with salt, black pepper, rosemary and sage.
Let it fry for 5 minutes.
Add the wine and let it evaporate.
Add the meat broth and let it cook for 5 hours - the meat broth needs to get full-bodied .
Press with a cutter until it gets creamy then add the grated parmesan
For the Sauce
For the sauce, boil the milk and add the burrata. Once you add it, turn the fire down and mix them with a whisk until it gets creamy.
Put the cherry tomatoes in a pan with hot olive oil and let it sauté.
Finally, add some salt, pepper and oregano.
For the Pasta
Mix together the flour, the egg yolks and the salt.
Knead until you have a smooth dough.
Let the dough rest for some minutes, covered with a plastic wrap.
Using a rolling pin or pasta machine, roll out the dough into thin sheets and cut out into large circles.
Sprinkle flour lightly on each sheet after you cut it.
Fill them with some meat and close them with your fingers
To cook the fresh agnolotti, cook in a large pot of salted boiling water for 30 seconds or until tender.
When serving, put the creamy burrata and the tomatoes on the top of the agnolotti.
Balsamic vinegar 250ml
Red berry tomatoes
Pasta drier stand
Chardonnay reserva 700ml
Cast iron frying pan 28cm
Trio of Bustelli bottle corks
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea rosemary micro herb
Flake finishing sea salt
Egg yolk seperator
Beef bone broth bundle
Rogerio came of age during the golden age of Italian-American filmmaking. “My favourite films are The Godfather and Once Upon A Time In The West.” Rogerio watches the latter every six months and even made Henry Fonda, who infamously played the villain, the cover star of the first ever issue of the Fasano magazine. “He was the prettiest man in the world but he was wild! He was a real man!”
“I love Brazilian music, particularly the Bossa Nova, but my heroes are Bowie, The Clash, Radiohead… I was living in London when ‘punk’ was happening - it was a tough, dangerous city then. I was walking with a Chilean friend once and some skinheads asked me what time it was… my friend just said to me, RUN!”