Segno by Empireo: making a mark

Segno by Empireo: making a mark

Fri 31 May 2024 11:20 AM

An evening at the Plaza Lucchesi is always a reason to glam up. Whether it’s up on the phenomenal rooftop, aka Empireo, with extraordinary views of the cityscape during the golden hour or an aperitivo at the vintage bar off the hotel lobby bedecked with an art deco pineapple chandelier, the occasion calls for extra lip gloss at the very least.

Chef Tommaso Calonaci

Around the corner from the hulking National Central Library and hugging the riverbank, the newly opened Segno by Empireo restaurant is fast becoming a destination for foodies. The discreet restaurant is helmed by chef Tommaso Calonaci, whose career began under the tutelage of Davide Oldani in Milan before spending eight years at Grand Hotel Minerva’s La Buona Novella. I still remember the dishes he designed so diligently to mark the establishment’s 150th anniversary and much of whose immediate comprehension can now be found at the Plaza Lucchesi. 

We are served a trio of palate-awakening amuse bouche: teriyaki-stooped rice crackers; Jerusalem artichokes, truffle and lime; and agretti in a tangy citrus sauce. Couples and families of all ages appear to be savouring the quiet decadence of the situation, perhaps having just arrived at the hotel for a holiday or external guests drawn to the gourmet experience. A youthful Korsič Ribolla Gialla underlines all the qualities of the spring-like starter set down on the linen-clad table: asparagus, egg yolk, almonds, herring caviar and white cabbage juice. Ilaria, the restaurant’s PR person, adds an interesting tidbit that the “little leaves on top are the same ones that grow in the gardens at Villa Bardini”.

But it’s Calonaci’s signature pure onion spaghetti that gives us the feels. The allium noodles are marinated in brine before being dressed in lemon, cheese and pepper with a dusting of liquorice. An enduringly flavoured dish is the end result. While my vegetarian dining companion enjoys the mix of consistencies on show in the spring miso-based minestrone, I tuck into the chef’s take on spaghetti allo scoglio, which uses actual pasta (not onions) and reuses fish leftover from the rest of the menu in an intense flavour profile that resembles a Livornese cacciucco stew.

A juicy Nebbiolo from Arpepe pairs gorgeously with the lamb, BBQ peppers and zabaglione that ends the savoury side of our dinner. Although I’m rushing to catch the last train from Campo di Marte, a sweet finish is in store. Dessert is a coffee kombucha and a light white chocolate mousse, elderflower gelato, rhubarb and sesame.     

Emerald walls, original parquet floors and 1920s wall lights retrieved from the basement, the unobtrusive elegance of the interior has remained largely unchanged over the years.

Segno by Empireo

Lungarno della Zecca Vecchia 38

+39 055 26236

This review was written based on a meal for two kindly provided by Segno by Empireo.

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