SanBrite, a new home for the Gasparis

Riccardo and Ludovica opened a restaurant of their own in Cortina

Ludovica and Riccardo Gaspari in front of SanBri

Ludovica and Riccardo Gaspari in front of SanBrite, their new restaurant in Alverà, in Cortina d'Ampezzo

Keep calm and don’t waste your time with Google. There’s no such saint as San Brite. Forget Italian and think of Ladino, spoken in Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Dolomites of Belluno. San means healthy, brite means mountain hut. A healthy mountain hut. This is the name Riccardo Gaspari, from Cortina d’Ampezzo, and his wife Ludovica Rubbini, born in Bologna, now living in Cortina, gave to their new restaurant in Alverà, basically the last roof before the fields and woods that go to Tre Croci and Brite de Larieto, an agritourism with stable, cows, goats, pigs and larches, where Riki left his sous-chef Eugenio so as to totally dedicate himself to this new place.

SanBrite, tel. +39.328.7288665, opened on the 5th of July, with a launch party  on Sunday 16th July. It replaced Piccolo Brite, their dairy factory, which is now enclosed in the restaurant, set to leave a mark in Cortina’s hospitality offer, while the town will host the Winter Olympic games in 2021, 65 years after the 1956 Olympics. This, however, doesn’t mean you’re flooded with information on the sport event when arriving below the Tofane. Still, this place blessed with nature is trying to wake up from a long lethargy that has done all sorts of damage.

Speck cut with a knife, served with a cream of cucumbers and salted butter gelato – the signature dish for chef Riki Gaspari

Speck cut with a knife, served with a cream of cucumbers and salted butter gelato – the signature dish for chef Riki Gaspari

Since last month, there’s a new mayor, Gianpietro Ghedina, there’s a new world cup to think about, there’s a new significant restaurant, SanBrite of course, there’s also pastry chef Massimo Alverà who has completely renovated his shop in the centre. Plus there’s association Cortina for us, whose members believe in entrepreneurship and in mid September, on the 16th and 17th, will give life to a food event on Corso Italia. Then there’s a good hospitality news: the ruins of hotel Ampezzo will be demolished so as to build a 5 star hotel and so on, including the new management at Toulà, under the Tofane, an icon in the Italian restaurant scene. Still, there are hotels that have given up and sell rooms for 34 euros per night or less, like the poor motels scattered around Italy. You would have thought they would never get here. Wrong.

Gaspari arrived in the kitchen of the old Brite in 2009, then one year later, in 2010, he married Ludovica, and two years after that they built Piccolo Brite. With a restriction imposed by local authorities: for four years, the place now occupied by the restaurant, had to be used as a garage for agricultural machines. In November 2016 works were finally allowed, and in six month’s time everything’s ready. After some fine-tuning, we’re in the present. The menu says: «SanBrite, agricucina Cortina d’Ampezzo».

An ode to versatility: you can have a picnic in the field outside, an aperitif on the terrace, a vegetarian lunch in the vegetable garden above, you can buy cheese and cured meat from the shop where in the evening they have all sorts of chefs tables. If you want traditional food, there’s the usual Brite. For Riki’s cuisine, there’s SanBrite. You just have to choose.

Riccardo and Ludovica made the right choice. The hut, though fascinating, was not exactly a fine dining place. Some expected simpler dishes, some complained about the smell coming from the stable or because they had to walk two-hundred metres from where they left the car.

Everything is now clearer and that window overlooking the valley and the Tofane makes every sensitive heart and soul take a leap. The rest is the effect of his dishes and her service. Starters include Marinated trout and pea purée; Speck tartare; Orto di radici e terra di porcini [with tubers and porcini]. First courses: Un nido nel bosco (spaghetti Monograno Felicetti, oil with mountain pine and crispy puccia); Gnocchi with tomato; Tongue ravioli; Beetroot canederli. Then the main courses: Pork ribs glazed in maple syrup; Quail and cream of Lamon beans; Boiled aged hen.

The latter was the only recipe that convinced me less, due to the vacuum cooking of white meat. Thirty-six hours later I tasted a version made over the fire. A good dish. Followed by delicious desserts.


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