Chef Fabio Viviani may have been born in Florence, Italy, and arrived in the USA via California, but his rapid-fire introduction of innovative concepts to Chicago—since 2013 he’s opened Siena Tavern, Bar Siena, BomboBar, and Prime and Provisions—has quickly made him one of the city’s adopted sons. Case in point: on Wednesday, March 8, The Chicago Culinary Museum and Chefs Hall of Fame will induct Viviani as Chef of the Year at the 2017 Chefs Hall of Fame Culinary Experience (Crystal Gardens in Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand St., 5-9:30pm; tickets on thechicagoculinarymuseum.org). So it only seemed natural to survey Viviani to see where he eats around the city. Here’s what he said:
Coffee: When I’m downtown, I love to grab a cup of coffee at my restaurant’s dessert concept, BomboBar (158 N. Green St., 312-492-7775).
Breakfast: For breakfast, a favorite of mine is a bowl of Organic Cheerios. I enjoy eating them dry though, which means, I eat them without any milk.
Lunch: For lunch, when I am in the city and get some free time to grab a bite to eat, I have to stop at my friend Jeff Mauro's spot, Pork & Mindy’s (1623 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-799-8759), and order the Bao to the Pork sandwich. I tell you, the man gets it right when making sandwiches. He takes pork shoulder and tops the sandwich off with ingredients like cucumber and jalapeno relish and mixes it with an Asian plum sauce on a bao bun. Plus, you must add a side of tots.
Dinner: I love being home with my family. Cooking a home-cooked meal for my wife and son is gratifying.
Weekend brunch: We love to go to Walker Bros. the Original Pancake House (multiple locations) out in the suburbs. They make the best potato pancake, which I get every time, and extra sour cream. And even though my son is only one, he loves the corn beef hash.
Healthy eats: At my household, we love to juice everything. We literally will juice about 100 pounds of food a week.
Family dinner: My wife, Ashley, and I love staying home for a family dinner. One of my favorite dishes to cook is chicken piccata and also pasta with tomato sauce and sausage.
Date night dinner: When I am not at Siena Tavern (51 W. Kinzie St., 312-595-1322) or Bar Siena (832 W. Randolph St., 312-492-7775) cooking, I love to take my wife out to La Scarola (721 W. Grand Ave., 312-243-1740). It is an old-school eatery with Italian-inspired dishes. If you look on the wall, you will probably find a picture of your mom and dad’s biggest crush from the past. Everyone famous worth being mentioned before 2000 has had dinner there.
Inspiration: When I need to clear my head and develop some inspiration I love to go into my steam room at my house. I sit in there for a good hour and a half and it helps me think and come to conclusions.
Most Instagrammable restaurant: I have to say it is our very own, BomboBar. You probably have seen the Hotter Chocolates on Instagram, but if you haven’t, it is worth a chance to take a look (@BomboBar). There is something about them—once they are served, people immediately gravitate to them and want to post a photo.
Chef you look up to: Well…. Thanks to my Italian genes, I’m not that tall of a guy, so anyone who is taller than me you could say I ‘look up to.’