Da Vittorio is one of the world's temples of haute cuisine: first Michelin star in 1978, three achieved in 2010, member of Relais & Chateaux, part of Les Grandes Tables du Monde and one secret: a splendid family that has been working together for almost 60 years.
Its story, or we should rather say fairy tale, begins in 1966 when Vittorio and Bruna Cerea opened their first restaurant in the center of Bergamo. Vittorio wanted something special for their love nest and so he got inspired by the memory of the happy holidays he spent in Venice, with an aunt, and by the fish cuisine of the Lagoon. With the brilliant intuition that will distinguish his entire life, he then decided to open the first fish-only restaurant in Bergamo, when at the time only meat restaurants existed in the small city.
It is the period of the economic boom and his tasty dishes, based on the excellence of the raw material and delicious cooking, such as the legendary paccheri al pomodoro, started to get noticed not only by local gourmands but also by food and wine critics. In 1978 the first Michelin Star arrived and since then it has been a succession of awards.
My father taught me to do everything with a smile, because only in this way we could be sure to make our guests happy. For me and my family, today it is still like this: ours is a cuisine that makes the heart, the soul and the palate smile.
(Enrico Cerea, chef)
In 2005 again a great intuition: Vittorio decided to leave the center of Bergamo and move to Brusaporto, in the countryside, because, he thought, with larger spaces the family could have remained united and worked on larger projects. And so it was.
He and Bruna fell in love with an old sports center and there they decided to build the kingdom that will crown their love story: a 10-hectare estate where they could grow up with their children. They opened the hotel, which will become part of the Relais & Chateaux circuit, and began their expansion abroad, transforming Da Vittorio into an international brand.
Today, Bruna and her 5 children are at the helm of a company that, despite having more than 200 employees, remains delightfully warm and familiar, especially in the Brusaporto headquarters. As in an ensemble of musicians, each brother and sister has a specific role: the eldest son Enrico, for all Chicco, is the group’s Executive Chef; Francesco, sommelier, manages the cellar, the vineyards of the estate cultivated with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that give life to the Faber red wine, and the external catering services; Rossella is responsible for the hospitality of the restaurant and hotel, Barbara deals with charity activities, and Roberto, also a Chef, supports his brother Enrico at the helm of the Group.
Chicco not only grew up with a great teacher, his father, a man with an incredible palate and creative genius, but, at the age of 18, he left home and had the luck (or intuition, since it is a quality that flows definitely in the family) to gain experience in the restaurants around the world that have made the history of high cuisine, stealing the secrets of masters such as Jacques Cagna and Ferran Adrià.
Thanks to these experiences, today he is distinguished by a cuisine that meets the emotionality of all the countries where he worked, starting from Bergamo passing through France and China, and which puts, as his father Vittorio did, first the research for the best raw material to make its guests always eat something very, very special and tasty.
Among his most recent signature recipes to be tasted absolutely: Egg “à la Egg”, tuna spaghetti with bagna cauda and pistachio crumble, and Antarctic Common Mora with wasabi and avocado crème brulée.
In addition to its beating heart, the starred restaurant with a magnificent vaulted wine cellar that includes over 2500 references, the estate houses La Dimora hotel (the 10 newly renovated rooms are truly beautiful), a tennis court, a soccer field, two natural lakes, a fitness trail with outdoor gym, a Berber tent for the most exclusive parties, a heliport, and a splendid swimming pool. All furnished with that timeless style that manages to be relaxed and tremendously chic at the same time.
It is precisely around the swimming pool that one of the latest projects of the Cerea family has developed: it is DAV Cantalupa, a new casual dining format that also offers the most informal pizza and which, given its success, will also be extended to wintertime and to new locations.
A kingdom of goodness that shows no signs of stopping: in addition to the restaurants in St. Moritz and Shanghai, Cavour 1880 and the Locanda in Bergamo Alta, and the many consultancies as for the Terrazza Gallia in Milan, the Cerea family has also opened in Brusaporto a 3000 square meter loft that houses a laboratory for leavened products, an entire floor for gifts, and one dedicated to pastry and chocolate.
Da Vittorio is truly an experience to do at least once in a lifetime, perhaps having a gourmet stay at the Dimora, pampered by the smile of the Cerea family, now just as famous as their cuisine.
Chicco Cerea is known for being a dessert lover. When he was still a child, he had heard that the only remark that was sometimes made in dad Vittorio’s kitchen was that his desserts did not have the same extra edge as the other dishes. The reason was simple: as a self-taught cook Vittorio had not yet developed the precise techniques needed to become a master pastry chef. It was, therefore, the desire to make his restaurant excel also in this sector that leads Chicco to learn all the secrets of haute patisserie. The dessert he loves the most? His invention La Divina, a soft cake with chocolate and coffee ganache, and tiramisù.
(Photo of the Cerea family courtesy of ph. Fabrizio Pato Donati)
Tasting menu: from 200 euro wines excluded
Business lunch menu: from 9o euro wines excluded
Starters and first courses: 40 — 160 euro
Second courses: 50 — 180 euro
Pizze: 18 — 50 euro
Cocktails: from 12 euro