Back in São Paulo after a period studying cinema in London, Gero Fasano, at the age of 20, decided to open a restaurant. He wanted to resume the tradition started with his great-grandfather Vittorio, who had founded Brasserie Paulista in downtown São Paulo, in 1902, and continued with his grandfather, nonno Ruggero, who launched the Fasano confectionery and restaurant in the late 1930s.
Gero’s father, Fabrizio, who had dedicated himself to other businesses, such as the beverage industry, tried to convince his son to change his mind, but, faced with the boy’s insistence, he decided to support him.
It was at that moment, in 1982, that he was shocked to discover that the Fasano name no longer belonged to the family. In the 1960s, the nonno had sold the business to Liquigás and the brand joined the pack.
In one meeting, the president of the gas company told him, “I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that I can’t give you the brand, the good news is that I can sell it.” By then, the Fasanos were on the brink of bankruptcy and it would be impossible to reacquire the name at a high price. Conversation goes, conversation comes until the businessman relents: “I’ll sell you for the price of an ice cream”.
This is one of the stories in the recently released book “Fasano dal 1902”, with texts by Gero Fasano, journalist Luciano Ribeiro and financial consultant and journalist Geraldo Forbes. The publication is dedicated to his father, Fabrizio.
Although the group is completing 120 years, that was not the motivation for the publication. “What moved me were the things I went through [ele se refere ao câncer de fígado que o levou a fazer um transplante, em 2020] and, above all, my 60 years of life and 40 years of profession”, says the restaurateur, as he likes to be called.
He also says that he took advantage of the book to “put a few drops on the i’s” in the stories about the expansion of the group, which today comprises 26 restaurants and nine hotels, based mainly in Brazil, but with branches in the US and Uruguay.
There are those who think, says Fasano, that it is a heritage, a heritage of Italian haute cuisine that has been transferred from generation to generation. “It’s not!” he emphasizes.
“Nono’s Restaurant [Ruggero] It didn’t have Italian dishes, it was international cuisine, as was said at the time. Want to see something funny? Look at this [ele mostra no celular a reprodução de um anúncio do Auto-Grill Fasano, veja abaixo]. Does it have anything to do with today’s Fasano? This was the last version of my grandfather’s restaurant before it closed. ‘Even in a sport shirt, you will be well received!'” Gero reads an excerpt from the 1960s advertisement.
Interestingly, what made Fasano famous was not the gastronomy, but the exquisite weddings, gala dinners and shows that took place in the winter garden installed in the Conjunto Nacional, on Avenida Paulista, in the 1950s.
“My grandfather married 80% of the wealthy people of São Paulo at the time. Eisenhower [presidente dos EUA de 1953 a 1961] was at one of the dinners, Nat King Cole and Sammy Davis Jr. sang there”, says the businessman.
In the middle of the last century, exponents of US politics and culture came to Fasano. Now Fasano is going to the USA. In March last year, the group opened the luxury residential Fasano Fifth Avenue, in New York, as a result of a partnership with the real estate company JHSF.
At the end of February this year, it opened the Fasano restaurant, on 49th Street, almost on the corner of Park Avenue. The restaurateur is enthusiastic about the first months of activity: “I couldn’t imagine the proportion it took, the demand, the criticism, the word of mouth”.
A successful start does not mean, however, that adjustments were not necessary. “I was scared at first when I noticed how São Paulo is more Italian than New York. Macaroni is instilled in the diet of São Paulo residents, whether they are Italian or not. “, remember.
“I came to the conclusion that people, when they go to a restaurant with a gastronomic proposal, prefer to order raw materials that these houses usually serve, such as king crabs or lobster. So I started making risottos and pasta with these ingredients, which started selling a lot.”
The next step in the US is a hotel in Miami, scheduled to open in 2024, also a joint venture with JHSF.
Long before that, however, the group will expand its domains in the capital of São Paulo. In partnership with the construction company Even, in November this year a complex opens in Itaim Bibi, with a residential tower, hotel and restaurant.
The businessman plans a house dedicated to fish and seafood, Fasano al Mare, for the neighborhood. “If this choice is confirmed, I will go to Italy and bring another chef here, someone who specializes in this type of cuisine.”
Fasano vs Michelin
In its current assessment of São Paulo’s restaurants, Michelin nominates two restaurants in the city with two stars and seven with one — three stars is the French guide’s maximum rating. None of these nine stars from São Paulo belongs to the Fasano group.
Michelin is not impressed with the restaurants in the capital of São Paulo under the command of Gero Fasano. He, in turn, shows no sympathy for the French guide. “I’m not angry with Michelin, but I confess that it’s not one of my favorite guides, especially when I’m in Italy. The problem is that Michelin boycotts Italy. Why? Because of Pirelli [fabricante de pneus, que concorre com a Michelin]”, says the restaurateur.
“All over Italy, they [Michelin] they can find five starred restaurants and, in Tokyo alone, they find five times that,” he says. “I don’t think it’s right what they do in Italy and I don’t think it’s right to be judged by the French.”
In its most recent assessment, Michelin highlights 372 starred homes across Italy. In Tokyo, there are 202 restaurants; in Japan, 427. In other words, if the criterion is a Michelin star, Italy loses to Japan, but surpasses Tokyo.
I am currently a news writer for News Bulletin247 where I mostly cover sports news. I have always been interested in writing and it is something I am very passionate about. In my spare time, I enjoy reading and spending time with my family and friends.