Friendly… a three Michelin stars restaurant? Is that really possible?
Yes, and if you want to enjoy an absolutely outstanding gourmet weekend to really relax, Da Vittorio , in Brusaporto (about 40 min. from Milan and with its own airport), is the answer.
The Cerea Brothers
Beatrice: What is a typical day like, in this restaurant?
Chicco (rolling up his eyes for a moment): Oh! A day of thirty-six hours? (laughs)
Our morning starts with a good coffee. Then we meet suppliers, the boys…I mean our staff…and we plan the day. After that, we meet journalists or anybody who asked for an appointment. Then we serve lunch, il servizio. In the afternoon we do office work. We started to do it ourselves, but now we have ten people just for that. Finally we serve dinner and that goes on until one or two in the morning. We need to be present, because customers want to see we are still cooking here.
Beatrice: So how can you travel?
Chicco: One of us is always in Brusaporto – we take turns. We drive more or less seventy thousands kilometers each year, plus all the long flights around the world.
Beatrice: Are you never tired of all this cooking and pressure for excellence?
Chicco: We live to enjoy la tavola! Sometimes I think we are sick, because at lunch we are already thinking of what to cook for dinner…
Roberto: And I am already thinking what to cook and eat the day after as well!
Beatrice: Is it hard to work in a country like Italy, with all its political issues?
Chicco: Not as hard as you might assume. We are used to having no parents, if you want to put it that way. The only problem is tax: it’s like having a bad partner who takes forty-five percent of your earnings, without giving anything back to you. But until there is something left at the end of the year, we can stay in this beautiful country.
Beatrice: What would you say to a young student whose aspiration is becoming a starred chef?
Roberto: One sees immediately if there is a potential. Some people finish school, come to us to work and ask as first thing: how many holidays do I get? These people aren’t fit for the job. This profession becomes a good part of your life, you’ll need to prepared for that. And probably you’ll need a good partner who understands you and supports you. Luckily, my wife supports me fully.
Beatrice: Are people afraid to invite you and cook for you, in private life?
Roberto: Not necessarily! Some ladies – and gentlemen too – want to show us some recipes and they can be surprisingly good. We always appreciate, and we love simple cooking as well. The most important thing, when we are invited, is being in good company.
Beatrice: Chicco, where was your first kiss?
Chicco: During a party, in a flat…just above the restaurant! I was never that far away from it!
Roberto: I can’t remember!
Beatrice: What is a dish from your childhood you remember well?
Chicco and Roberto: Polenta with rabbit – no doubt! Dad used to cook it to perfection. Mum still makes it from time to time. A delight!
Beatrice: How do you decide what to put in the menu?
Chicco: It can be suggested by someone in the kitchen, something that we try in different versions and perfect. Or it can be inspired by another restaurant, a new technique, a seasonal ingredient, or a traditional recipe…we experiment all the time.
Beatrice: And when do you consider a dish successful?
Roberto: It’s down to the client. Who decides what makes a dish successful is the people who come here, try it, speak about it. We simply listen. The best advertising is word of mouth.
Beatrice: How do you keep fit, with all this delicious food?
Roberto: Ok…I skip this one! (laughs)
Chicco: I don’t believe in dieting. The best strategy is to eat a bit of everything, in moderation. From time to time, a big meal doesn’t hurt.
Beatrice: Are you going to be on television like many star chefs do?
Chicco: We go from time to time, but we wouldn’t have the time to be on television regularly. We need to be here, cooking.
Roberto: Recently I watched a so-called star chef cleaning ovuli mushrooms and he was destroying them so badly, I had to switch the tv off!
Beatrice: How comes that you guys, with all the international success, VIP clientele, prizes and recognitions, are still so friendly and humble?
Chicco: At the end, we cook steaks and spaghetti, we are not saving the world or performing brain surgery. What people appreciate most is seeing that we are ourselves. And that we love what we are doing.
The President, Off Guard
I think you understood it: my lunch went on until the early afternoon and I absolutely loved it.
At Da Vittorio , food can rival any top restaurant in the world and is absolutely the most important part of the experience. But the atmosphere and familiarity are what sets the restaurant completely apart.
We have a lot of excellent restaurants in Milan, says one of the guests, sitting near me. But they don’t have the warm and familiar atmosphere one can find here….one feels so comfortable.
Indeed, during il servizio – how lunch and dinner are called here by the staff – I catch Signora Bruna Cerea (mother of the five Cerea brothers, founder and President of the Da Vittorio firm) gently encouraging a young trainee, who stands like a soldier between courses, with a light caress on her cheek. Like a mother would do with her daughter. There is no show-off in this place: relationships are real, and everybody works with passion for a common goal.
- 3 Michelin Stars
- 160 employees
- 70’000 km of traveling each year plus long flights
- 52 years of excellence
Italian Cooking Is Enjoying A Renaissance
There is a veritable Italian squad, a group of 40/50 years old Italian chefs who are very active and motivated to work together and show Italian cuisine to the world. Never like in the last two or three years we’ve been asked so often to export our cooking around the globe. Da Vittorio is already in St. Moritz, will be opening in Shanghai in May, and in Macao in 2020.
Adds Roberto Cerea , after our delicious lunch.
That’s why the idea of star chef doesn’t mean much to us. We see other chefs as colleagues, not as competitors. If you come to Milan for its good food, good shopping etc, you’ll also enjoy fine dining with me once, and maybe at another great restaurant another time.
Like Bohemian Rhapsody
My experience at Da Vittorio was so intense, that I can only compare it to a great concert. Let’s take the Queen and the recent movie Bohemian Rhapsody as an example, because eating at Da Vittorio is as full of artistic value, and I personally love that music so much. You know when you hear one of the famous songs, and feel the whole world knows it? The moment I tried the “fake chestnut” (a delicious presentation for fois gras), I thought it’s no surprise that this dish get proposed again and again and is a hit.
And what about the Egg à la egg ? It’s one of the dishes that made Da Vittorio famous and has an incredible creamy – but light – consistency. I put my spoon in the potato foam to add caviar and melt it in. I was literally moaning. My husband was embarrassed. Another timeless success.
But like in any concert you’ll love, there are also surprises of less-known pieces. I was presented some tuna spaghetti which consisted of tuna fine strips, topped by a pistachio crumble and surrounded by bagna cauda sauce. The flavour was so fresh and yet intense, that I wondered why it wasn’t this dish, that made the restaurant world famous?
I could go on describing all the food I tried, and indeed I remember it all. But I am no food blogger or haute cuisine expert, so I prefer to share my overall experience. My conclusion? If you can find a restaurant where one eats better, and in better company, then I’ll offer you lunch at Da Vittorio!
Da Vittorio is in Brusaporto, via Cantalupa 17.
My dress is by Brusnika Zurich, Torgasse 8
My watch is IWC Da Vinci Moonphase 36