It’s a brave new world in Rome’s restaurant scene. Where tradition once unwaveringly reigned supreme, creativity is the novel leader. Heralding the movement is Roy Caceres, chef of Metamorfosi, the latest entry to Rome’s growing list of top-tier restaurants. Likewise, Caceres is being feted as one of Italy’s rising stars.
Born in Colombia, Caceres has been sharpening his skills in Italy’s kitchens for nearly two decades, including Porto Ercole’s Il Pellicano and Bologna’s Locanda Solarola. In fall 2010, Caceres set stakes in Rome’s tony Parioli neighborhood, opening Metamorfosi. With a sly wink to antiquity’s Ovid, the Roman poet who wrote Metamorphoses, Metamorfosi is all about transforming the Roman cuisine stereotype by Caceres’ mosaicked menu of dishes that play on Italian traditions and nouveau cuisine. As Caceres says, “Every dish is an homage, a joke, a play on food, whether traditional or not.”
When Caceres is not playing with tradition, he’s making it, best exemplified by Uovo 65°, an unlikely reinterpretation of carbonara, where taste trumps form as the traditional dish excludes pasta in favor of creamy essence, and the more subtle (but long-titled) Bottoni, burro, parimigiano 36 mesi e tartufo, a delicious, truffle-garnished ravioli served in a parmesan broth as hearty and delectable as any beef stock.
Though the menu meanders around Italian fare traditions, it is also a celebration of culture as the Metamorfosi team of chefs represents Sweden, Colombia and Japan with collective experience in Italy, their respective countries and around the globe. It is this Caceres-described inter-cambia (an engaged interchange) that creates not just a dynamic menu, but collaborative participation in the kitchen and on the table.
But even with the obvious dedication to the restaurant, I was somehow still able to pull chef Caceres away from the stove for a quick chat. Here are the highlights…
What is your favorite dish at Metamorfosi?
Crudo di Fassona (tartar of Piemontese beef). This dish reminds me of my grandfather who used to make me something similar when I was child. It also contains my favorite ingredients including raw beef, mint, spring onion and egg.
What ingredient is a must-have in your kitchen?
Salt is fundamental to me. It jumpstarts tastes and augments it, but it must be used well or else it will cover up natural flavors.
Where do you like to eat in Rome?
On my days off, I like to take my family out of Rome and to the countryside. A favorite restaurant is Le Colline Ciociare in Frosinone. In Rome, I’ll go to Gabriele Bonci’s Pizzarium for take-away pizza.