Chef Fabio Trabocchi is known for creating elegant, decadent Italian dishes like the gingered lobster ravioli that he serves at Fiola, in Washington, DC. Here, his favorite places to visit when he goes home to Italy’s Le Marche region.
Luxe Seafood: Ristorante Uliassi
“This is a Michelin two-star seafood restaurant in the small coastal town of Senigallia along the Adriatic Sea. My friend Mauro Uliassi opened it 22 years ago, doing all of the painting and plumbing himself, and now it’s one of the best restaurants in Italy. Mauro and I met as teenagers cooking in Le Marche; it’s great to see him doing so well after all these years.” uliassi.it
Historic Pastry Stop: Caffè Meletti
“Caffè Meletti in Ascoli Piceno is one of the oldest cafés in Italy; it’s famous for its anise liqueur, sometimes called anisette on this side of the world. They make everything Marche-related for holidays, from panettone to small pastries that they’ve done for the past hundred years. They also have a lot of historic art on the walls that makes it particularly special.” caffemeletti.it
Wine Country Tour: Matelica
“This small town is famous for its vibrant Verdicchio white wines, but it also hosts a fun annual Nativity scene competition. The entries are stunning, using every kind of prop you can imagine, even recycled materials like office water tanks. Matelica is also an old and very scenic town, in the middle of a valley surrounded by hills. When it’s adorned with Christmas lights, it’s even more picturesque.”
Christmas Event: Loreto
“For about two weeks before Christmas, the main square in Loreto hosts a living Nativity, called a presepe vivente. It’s been perfected over many years, so it’s a beautiful sight.”
Truffle Capital: Acqualagna
“This is the center of the region’s commercial truffle market, where the mushrooms are distributed and sold. From the end of October through mid-November it hosts a huge, open-air white truffle market. But throughout the truffle season every restaurant has them on the menu, and they’re sold in every salumeria or cheese shop. Even the local monks have truffles.” acqualagna.com
Must-Try Dish: Gnocchi al Sugo d’Anatra
During Christmas time, this dish of potato gnocchi with duck ragù is as common in Le Marche as spaghetti with tomatoes is in Naples. It’s also hunting season, so sometimes the ragù is made from wild game like pheasant, partridges or boar.