Brazilian restaurant impresario Rogério Fasano—simply “Gero” to his loyal regulars in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Punta del Este—has been trying to open a place in New York for nearly 30 years. In 1995 he was on the verge of taking over the former Le Cirque space on East 65th Street when French chef Daniel Boulud snagged the lease instead.

“It was between Fasano and Boulud, and Boulud won,” he recalls. More projects came close to fruition over the years, but “always,” he says, “something went wrong.”

Rogério “Gero” Fasano searched for a restaurant space in New York for nearly 30 years.

Next week, his long-dreamed-of American outpost finally arrives in Manhattan, when his eponymous restaurant, Fasano, a facsimile of the São Paulo original, opens just off Park Avenue.

If São Paulo’s Fasano is Brazil’s answer to New York’s Four Seasons restaurant, once home to Manhattan’s most notorious power lunch, it’s fitting that Fasano, the man, inherited that fading icon’s final home when it closed for good, in 2019. The 19,000-square-foot space was initially designed and then recently updated by Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld, who has done seven projects with Fasano and is godfather to his 15-year-old son.

The New York restaurant, like its siblings across Brazil, will serve the classic Milanese food Fasano grew up on—his great-grandparents were Italian immigrants who settled in São Paulo in the 1860s. The risottos will be extra creamy, the crispy veal Milanese pounded wide as a plate. Pastas will be rolled out fresh to order, under Nicola Fedeli, former head chef at Fasano in Rio.

One of the apartments at the new Fasano Fifth Avenue development.

At lunch, a wooden trolley will parade through the dining room doling out the mixed meats and bright condiments of a traditional bollito misto. The torta della nonna, a signature dessert, is an elegant upgrade on the ricotta tart Fasano’s grandmother made. “We serve very classical food,” he says. “To us, perfection is much more important than creativity.”

Though the food is straight-up Italian, the wine list skews French. “I have a concept that says Italian food, French wine, and German cars are best,” says Fasano, a collector of Burgundy wines and a brand ambassador for BMW.

His New York Fasano will have a casual osteria up front and, eventually, a second-floor cocktail bar—a copy of his Baretto in São Paulo—with live jazz and bossa nova nightly. The whole complex was originally scheduled to open in late spring 2020, before the pandemic shut down international borders and Midtown became a ghost town.

The menu specializes in the classic Milanese fare that Fasano grew up on.

Fasano was diagnosed with hepatitis and awaiting a new liver when the pandemic first hit. “When you are on the waiting list, there’s nothing you can do,” he says. “I had almost no life. I was looking at my position every day—you go up and down.”

When his transplant finally came through, in the fall of 2020, Fasano recovered at his country house, in Punta del Este. He used the downtime to begin writing about his life in restaurants and hotels. The result is a lavishly illustrated book, newly published, tracing his evolution from a wild young man, racing cars and speedboats and partying all night, to Brazil’s most dapper restaurant host. “I’ve made hotels, but I’m a restaurateur,” he says. “It’s in my blood.”

The Fasano São Paulo is among the city’s most boisterous venues for a power lunch.

His father and grandfather, successful entrepreneurs, had both dabbled in hospitality before he entered the business, starting with the family’s first restaurant, Brasserie Paulista, opened in 1902. The book, which includes eight classic Fasano recipes, will be offered for sale on the New York menu.

Though the pandemic left Fasano’s hotels and restaurants reeling, a host of new projects were already in the works. Last summer, with his partner, Brazilian real-estate magnate José Auriemo Neto, he opened a very small, and ultra-exclusive, New York hotel on Fifth Avenue, its seven clubhouse suites and four apartment-like duplexes accessible only to members of a new, by-invitation-only Fasano Club. In December, a new Brazilian resort, designed by Weinfeld, debuted on the beach in Trancoso. A Fasano hotel in Miami Beach, replacing the Como Metropolitan, is expected to open in two years. A gourmet-food-and-housewares shop, Emporio Fasano, launches in São Paulo this spring. A men’s-clothing line, a personal passion project (tagline: “Masculine fashion for men who hate fashion”), is also planned.

The striking Fasano Boa Vista hotel, located an hour’s drive from São Paulo.

This winter, Fasano and his wife moved into an apartment a few blocks from their New York restaurant. “I’m going to work here as I worked in my first restaurant, at every table,” he says. Although, for the time being, he plans to stay for only a few months, Fasano is considering making the move more permanent, given the economic and political situation in Brazil under its vaccine-denying right-wing president. “It’s a pity. Brazil should be such a nice country,” he says. “The number of people who want to leave is amazing—like myself.”

Jay Cheshes writes about art, culture, food, travel, and crime. He regularly contributes to The Wall Street Journal and WSJ. He trained as a chef at the Culinary Institute of America and has served as a restaurant critic for Gourmet and Time Out New York