A life spent among the most beautiful terraces in Rome, as chef William Anzidei himself admits, an important background, more than 20 years of experience in the best locations of the Rome hotellerie, working alongside renowned names on the restaurant scene: from the Hilton to the Hassler, from the Eden with Enrico Derflingher to the Splendide Royal, with Stefano Marzetti, and including Igles Corelli and Andrea Fusco.
Indeed, it was precisely from Igles Corelli that he learned the concept of circular cooking, in which each ingredient is offered as a whole and with various textures, through a variety of sophisticated preparation and cooking techniques.
In 2019, William Anzidei arrived at the Atlante Star Hotel, as executive chef of the Les Étoiles restaurant, at the behest of Federico, Francesca and Roberta Menicucci, owners of the property, to offer a gastronomic salon to the hotel, which has become, over the course of these three years, a landmark of Roman haute cuisine.
Chef Anzidei recounts his Rome in the kitchen from the breathtaking view of the three floors dedicated to dining, in which the Attic is reserved for the Les Étoiles restaurant, the Roof Garden is dedicated to the Bistrot and the Rooftop to the Cocktail bar with views from St. Peter’s Basilica to the historic Borgo district, continuing, then, to the dynamic Prati district with the imposing Palace of Justice, known among Romans as the “Palazzaccio,” to the monumental Pantheon.
Significant works of modernization of the kitchen environment followed, deliberately left exposed, where chef William Anzidei experiments and expresses his creative flair, his philosophy of instinctive cooking, never complicated, where the raw materials are exalted in their essence, making every single ingredient always well recognizable.
Reason why he chooses for his cooking, whenever possible, 0-km ingredients, from cheeses from small producers in Lazio, to fish from Argentario, to meat from Magliano Sabina. His dishes reveal express and light cooking, thanks in part to the introduction of the high-performance josper oven, which leaves the flavors and characteristics of the food unaltered.
A tasty and refined cuisine, with few ingredients, local and seasonal raw materials, in which traditional Italian dishes are wisely revisited with a modern wink, where every detail is taken care of, from the combinations of flavors and textures to an impeccable presentation.
First courses reveal country and spring flavors, as in Pici with Artichoke, Mint and Grilled Veal Bacon or Fresh Puff Pastry Cannelloncino with Buffalo Ricotta, Lemon and Toasted Almonds. Land and sea among the main courses with the Lamb Chop Parmesan Style with Buffala Mousse and the Octopus accompanied by Millefoglie of Potatoes and Sweet and Sour Peppers. Estrous and scenic desserts fill the menu – of which a special mention must go to the exotic White Chocolate and Madagascar Vanilla Namelaka with Lime Biscuit and Roasted Mango.
Cucine d’Italia Talks with Chef William Anzidei
What is your cooking philosophy?
“Everything is based on the raw material, which must be of the highest quality, processed as little as possible, in order to enhance its characteristics. This is my concept, but then I also like to work with low temperatures and transform cuts that may not be the finest, but of a product that is always excellent, making them noble with the various preparations.”
Speaking of raw materials, where do the ingredients you use come from?
“I have historic suppliers that I have turned to for many years, I know their products well and I do a lot of research. My connection with the territory is very strong, I prefer Italian products, but that doesn’t mean I don’t also use ingredients from the rest of the world; right now, for example, I’m experimenting a lot with Iberian suckling pig, but I always remain convinced that Italy is the country that can provide the absolute best products. When I start from an Italian excellence, it may also happen that I decide to integrate dishes with ingredients from other places, but the importance of the quality of each element that makes up a dish remains central.”
In the renovated and ultra-modern kitchen of Les Étoiles restaurant, among other things, you have a Josper Grill. How do you use it and what other cooking techniques do you employ?
“I try to cover every aspect related to the various techniques; I like that the menu can provide a broad overview in this regard. The Josper always has an incredible capacity, this special oven has unique peculiarities, both in terms of temperature, smoking and embers, the heat comes from everywhere. It is not electric, it runs on charcoal, and I choose only top-quality coals. I offer freshly prepared dishes on the menu, such as sea bass, which cooked in the Josper is unique: rich in its own juices, with a softness and flavor that is unmatched. But then I also like to sweep through a wide range of offerings on the menu, so there is no shortage of dishes, such as leg of lamb cooked at a low temperature, homemade pastas, and fish cooked at every stage in our kitchen.”
What should never be missing from the plate?
“My cooking has to be super light, I impose this on myself, not to do big stir-fries, not to use excessive seasonings. When you’re done eating at my place, you don’t feel weighed down.”
What are your most iconic dishes?
“The squid is a special dish, I made it when we opened and it was very popular. It is baby squid stuffed with ricotta from Lazio, sun-dried tomatoes and basil, it is cooked in the Josper and served on a cream of smoked eggplant also made in the Josper. The end result is delicious, light and perfectly calibrated in flavors that all stand out beautifully.”
Rome from the Terraces of the Atlante Star Hotel
From the enchanting setting of Les Étoiles, located on the top floor of the Atlante Star, the journey continues to the Roof Garden and the Rooftop, where the fine dining restaurant formula is streamlined, with a more informal style of service, nonetheless always refined and curated with dishes that are appreciated for their taste and creativity. It is here, at the Roof Garden, that during the warm season, from May to September, the Les Étoiles restaurant moves.
This is where the art of mixing is awakened, all under the careful direction of Riccardo Marinelli, Rome’s famous barman, and led by the imaginative and talented Giovanni Onori. The drink list is inspired by Italian and international classics, with an intriguing signature line and a selection of fine spirits focusing on whiskey and rum.
Ascending to the top you will find yet another location – the Rooftop, an authentic little verdant retreat with an unobstructed and panoramic view of the rooftops of Rome, where you can consume the ritual of the aperitif, sipping cocktails or bubbles together with appetizers prepared expressly by the kitchen, whilst admiring from a privileged position one of the most beautiful sunsets in Rome.