Top Chef favorite Chef Fabio Viviani has opened up his latest venture on Fort Lauderdale Beach at the new Hotel Maren. Steps away from the white sand and glimmering ocean, Riviera is serving up coastal Italian fare paired with an eclectic wine list that’s true to its Italian roots. We sat down with Chef Fabio to chat about his standout dishes, favorite wine and where he sources his provisions.
Why did you want to open Riviera in Fort Lauderdale?
We have a lot of experience in Florida, and we think it’s a great market. We love Fort Lauderdale. I think it’s just a good fit for our strategy plus we need more sunshine.
Everything on the menu looks delicious, but what are a few things our readers should definitely try?
All the pastas are made from scratch. The octopus and fish are all local, and we have some of the best beef in the state.
What can diners expect when they visit Riviera?
Good hospitality and a welcoming atmosphere. It’s not too stuffed up. It’s elegant enough for a date, but also where you can bring your kids after a day at the beach.
What makes your food stand out for other restaurants on the beach?
We are a restaurant built for locals. We’re here to serve the community good food consistently with good pricing and excellent quality. We support local producers; actually 90% of the ingredients on our menu are sourced within 100 miles of our restaurant.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve cooked?
Kangaroo and rattlesnake.
This isn’t your first rodeo so what is one of the biggest challenges when opening up a new restaurant?
You need a lot of people. We always strive to offer great training and empower our employees with the right knowledge and right tools to succeed, but the human resources aspect of the business is always the most challenging.
If you could only drink one type of wine for the rest of your life, what would that be?
Chianti. I was born and raised in the Tuscan hills so for me a good Chianti is the ultimate red wine.
Riviera, 525 S Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Fort Lauderdale; 754/241-2020 http://rivierabyfabioviviani.com/. Open for brunch and dinner. Coming soon: lunch service, expanded patio seating and a rooftop bar serving up some of the Viviani’s favorite cocktails and snacks.