Bruttoĺs double job

We visited Undicesimo Vineria in Treviso and one of Italyĺs emerging chefs. Who bends over backwards by guiding Venissa

15-05-2017

Chef Francesco Brutto works both at Undicesimo Vineria and Venissa. Photo by Mattia Mionetto

Photogallery

Our dinner at Undicesimo Vineria portrayed by Tanio Liotta. We start with territory launched in the sky: Red radicchio from Treviso, sour umeboshi, roses and litchis
Mug bean wafer, beetroot and hibiscus
Crispy dashi, celeriac and nori seaweed
Jerusalem artichoke cannolo with camphorated mint geranium

I ask: «Chef, can we take a picture of you and your brigade?». He says: «What brigade? There’s just me in the kitchen, with a kitchen hand». The solitude of a number one, what Francesco Brutto aspires to be. Born in 1988, in Campocroce, a hamlet of Mogliano Veneto (Treviso), he studied Psychology in Padua. His career started in a Treviso in a winebar simply named Vineria which is now his Undicesimo Vineria. He trained in the kitchen of Pier Giorgio Parini at Povero Diavolo.

Ask him about his style and he’ll say: «I prepare what I like». Then he explains: «I want to offer something different from local tradition. I want my clients to know that when they come here they’ll eat things they won’t find elsewhere. I enjoy surprising them, making them have fun with flavours that aren’t supposed to match and instead they perfectly do». All this ambition is supported by excellent technical skills, rare sensitivity, great passion and huge dedication to work.

Brutto with Chiara Pavan, his sous at Venissa

Brutto with Chiara Pavan, his sous at Venissa

If this wasn’t the case, one wouldn’t understand why after doing-everything-by-himself at Undicesimo, two months ago he took on a further task at Venissa, restaurant – with vegetable garden, vineyards and so on – owned by the Bisol family on the island of Mazzorbo, a bridge away from Burano, in the middle of the Venice Lagoon (see also: There’s grapes in the lagoon). This has also been the kingdom, in the past, first of Paola Budel, then Antonia Klugmann, then the strange yet fertile quartet formed by Sabina Joksimovic (now in Milan at Joia with Pietro Leemann), Andrea Asoli (at Château Monfort also in Milan), Michelangelo D'Oria and Serena Baiano (now pastry chef at I Due Buoi in Alessandria, post-Ribaldone).

This is how it works: from Monday to Saturday Brutto is in the kitchen in Treviso. Then, before what others consider holidays, after the service he leaves in the middle of the night to his boat anchored behind the Marco Polo airport and reaches Mazzorbo, where luckily he’s awaited by a brigade of 20 people coordinated by «a fantastic sous chef, she’s better than me», that is to say Chiara Pavan, born in Verona in 1985, previously at Da Caino and Zum Löwen.

A question comes spontaneously: chef, why? «I’ve had a strong relationship with Matteo Bisol for many years». Not enough. «In Venissa I find many helpers, something I don’t have in Treviso, and the work is already splendid, so much so that sometimes I have to protest: “Let me do something”. I’m very at ease». Still not enough. How can it be he’s never tired? «Truth is, when I take the boat it’s usually in the middle of the night. Total calm, peace. The Lagoon is still. The stars are above, I can smell the sea, and in this season flowering acacias too. I’m at peace with the world. It’s relax for the soul».

The dining room at Undicesimo Vineria

The dining room at Undicesimo Vineria

In fact, one should point out one more thing: for Brutto the double job is also a double professional accomplishment. He’s the head chef in two restaurants where he’s worked, but in the brigade: not only in Treviso, where he arrived as an intern, but also at Venissa, where he was Klugmann’s sous between 2014 and 2015. «Returning to Vineria after 10 years and to Massorbo after 2 and a half gives satisfaction».

Which is made greater by the excellent outcome. At Venissa («It’s doing great») he found the ideal context for his cuisine, which is strongly based on vegetal raw materials. He presents three menus (5, 7 and 9 dishes for 120, 150 and 190 euros) with various “levels of difficulty”: the first two are already set, with a lower degree of creativity [he calls it “avantgarde”], «let’s say respectively 20% and 50%». The third has no net, based on the chef’s creativity, which he uses a lot. There’s little overlapping with Undicesimo Vineria, «the dishes are designed here, with the available raw materials. They’re based on the Lagoon and its herbs», even though you can also taste some of his fortes, «such as Raviolo with turbot entrails, Tortellini with tamarind, double cream and angustura and Braised endive with orange, almond and houttunya)».

Delicacies the people of Treviso already knew. Or maybe not: «At Undicesimo only 25% of the clients are locals. Most come from Milan, Rome, as well as Slovenia, Trentino, Friuli», favoured by the close airport of Treviso, «they land, visit the city, dine and go back the following day. Locals instead are used to taverns where you eat a lot and spend little, based on traditional dishes». His offer, as mentioned, is completely different: you can find it in the photo gallery from our excellent meal. The photos are from Tanio Liotta.

Regis Ramon Freitas with the chef

Regis Ramon Freitas with the chef

Closing this article without mentioning Brutto’s alter ego in Treviso, Brazilian Luís Regis Ramon Freitas from São, would be a mistake. Born in 1974, he’s the dominus of dining room and cellar. He arrived in town in 1996 for his studies and never left: «My Italian teacher wanted me to learn the language by attending local taverns, and meet locals. I didn’t use to drink wine, I started with raboso. I fell in love. Vineria opened in 2003 with 2000 labels, I started to work there and met a young newbie Francesco Brutto». Almost a decade later Freitas gets a job in the cellar at Venissa, «I arrive, see Francesco: “What are you doing here too?”».

You should never resist to destiny. In 2014 the old manager at Vineria wanted to close. The two didn’t waste the chance to return: «It’s ours since October 2014. It had opened exactly 11 years before, so we added “Undicesimo” to the old name». Today it has 8 tables (plus a convivial one in the wine shop area, to taste wines) and it keeps its wine-vocation, with almost 300 wines, including old vintages of Bordeaux and Burgundy. Most of all, it doesn’t pretend to be complete – there’s only one Amarone, for instance – but has an extraordinary selection of original and unique bottles, often explosive, where banality is banned («These are the wines I like. Luckily enough, it’s the same wines that enhance Francesco’s dishes»). So natural wines, re-fermented wines, cocktails, teas, juices... for one of the some intriguing pairings we’ve come across for quite a few months now.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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Photogallery

Our dinner at Undicesimo Vineria portrayed by Tanio Liotta. We start with territory launched in the sky: Red radicchio from Treviso, sour umeboshi, roses and litchis
Mug bean wafer, beetroot and hibiscus
Crispy dashi, celeriac and nori seaweed
Jerusalem artichoke cannolo with camphorated mint geranium
Tacos with almond, carrot, lime and coriander
Squilla mantis, wasabi, sunflower, fermented kiwi, water cress and silene
Oxalide, lard, fermented strawberry, stellina odorosa and white hibiscus: strong acid notes made rounder by the lard
Volpina, nerves, katsuobushi, Scottish celery and mountain celery: a dish of the highest standards
Raviolo with turbot entrails, smoked cod roe, veal brain: delicious, the brain gives a fondant, charming and sweet note
Tortellini with tamarind, double cream and angustura: a beautiful overturning of a traditional dish
Capelli d'angelo, maritime pine, pine nuts and ruta: strong, even too strong, balsamic notes
Pastinaca, tambari, nasturtium and turmeric: enhancing the vegetal note