After attending culinary school and working in kitchens for six years, Claudia Rosellini fell in love with the service side of the industry. “I had taken a couple of wine courses and quickly discovered that learning about making wine and distilling spirits was just as interesting to me to as learning about food,” she says. This shift in her career focus led her to work various front-of-house positions at restaurants throughout Washington, D.C. while also becoming a Certified Sommelier in 2017.
Though Rosellini never worked directly for Fabio Trabocchi Restaurants during her time in D.C., she says that she always had great respect for the group and its Michelin-starred fine dining flagship, Fiola. And so when the Miami native moved back to her hometown last year, she was thrilled to discover that the first Fiola outpost had recently debuted in Coral Gables. “It felt so fortuitous to find that one of my favorite restaurants from D.C. had opened in Miami,” she says. “The rest is history.”
Shortly after her relocation, Rosellini joined the Fiola Miami team as a part-time sommelier, and has since become beverage director, tasked with curating the Italian restaurant’s bar program. Her cocktails ($13-$25) highlight classic Italian cocktail builds while also paying tribute to the bounty of seasonal ingredients Miami has to offer. “One of the things I love most about Miami is that it’s such an international hub,” Rosellini notes. “It’s natural that our handcrafted cocktails use elixirs, syrups, and infusions derived from the tropical flavors found in this climate while still keeping in line with Italian tradition.” Her Mr. A Negroni ($13) is a perfect example of this blending of styles; it features grilled pineapple-infused Bacardi Black rum, pineapple rind-infused Bacardi Añejo Cuatro rum, Martini & Rossi Reserva Speciale Bitter liqueur, Martini & Rossi Rosso sweet vermouth, and fresh pineapple juice. “I have real respect for and understanding of my ingredients—for instance, I use Martini & Rossi Riserva Speciale Bitter liqueur rather than the traditional Campari in my Negroni because it’s smoother and less aggressive, allowing it to better complement tropical flavors like pineapple,” Rosellini explains. “I also love to incorporate vermouth in my cocktails—it’s so versatile in style and flavor profile that when a cocktail is off-balance in some way, it can usually solve the problem.” Her La Cura ($13) comprises Four Roses Bourbon, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Dekuyper Triple Sec liqueur, house-made vanilla bean syrup, Bitter Truth Orange bitters, muddled ginger, and charred orange. “Balance is critical,” she notes, “A cocktail is like a symphony orchestra—if one musician or instrument is out of tune it can ruin the entire musical piece. The same goes for a drink: It should be the perfect composition of taste whether that’s sweet, sour, or bitter.”
With the Covid-19 pandemic ushering in new laws regulating sales of wine, beer, and spirits, Fiola has been able to offer its entire cocktail selection as part of its takeout menu—both in single servings and in large-format cocktail kits that serve five (kits are $40-$52 each). “It’s comforting that even with the recent upending of the hospitality industry, we can still serve our guests in this way,” Rosellini says. “I love that we have the potential to make a difference in a person’s night or day, even if it’s just for an hour or two. We could all use a little escape, and what better way to do that than with incredible food and drink?”