An extraordinary family, which has made Da Vittorio a reference not only for fine dining, but a brand of
excellence in Italy and in the world. The role of Rossella and mamma Bruna in relations with the
customer is fundamental
The years fly by: if we think that the opening of Vittorio and Bruna Cerea’s restaurant in Bergamo dates
back to 1966, we realize the speed of time that passes. An extraordinary family history, that of the Cereas,
made of passion, foresight and constant commitment, marked by stages that show an exponential growth
towards excellence. Until it reaches it, consolidates it day after day, with sacrifices and vision: a greatness
that feeds on unlimited energy, in a sort of mission made up of effort, heart, but also strategies,
organization projects. In 1978, twelve years after its opening, the first Michelin star arrives, preserved until
the arrival of the second, in 1996. Six years later, Da Vittorio becomes Relais Gourmand and, in 2005, the
restaurant leaves the city of Bergamo to move in Cantalupa, in Brusaporto, in the green countryside of
Bergamo, a few kilometers from the capital. Here the current splendid residence is inaugurated, which
becomes the first venue of the Relais & Chateaux circuit in the area. And, in 2010, the fateful third star
arrives: a recognition of great cuisine, of course, but also the coveted satisfaction of reaching the highest
point. Thanks to the enthusiasm and professional dedication of this extraordinary family, Da Vittorio is
today – seventeen years after the loss of the late patron, a man with formidable intuitions and trained in
the culture of work with a capital L – one of the eleven three-starred in Italy, as well as one of the most
famous and celebrated gourmet restaurants in the world, for years at the top of the international rankings.
Today, Vittorio is taken care of by the legendary Signora Bruna, an undisputed authority in the field of
hospitality entrepreneurship, but also in humanity and the five children, Enrico (Chicco) and Roberto (Bobo)
in the kitchen, Francesco, in charge of external catering and of the cellar, Rossella (responsible for
hospitality in the restaurant and in the residence) and Barbara, active in the pastry shop in Bergamo, in the
upper town. To the group must be added Paolo Rota, Rossella’s husband, who leads the Da Vittorio
restaurant inside the Carlton hotel in St. Moritz, two Michelin stars.
We wanted to start our chat with Rossella who, with her mother Bruna, is the real strength of this magical
place. For once they don’t talk about cooking (we have written about it extensively over the years) but
about those often intangible values, fundamental in the art of receiving, namely: harmony, introspection,
vision, respect, curiosity, attention.
Without detracting from Chicco, chef of stratospheric elegance, rich in talent, a formidable intuition in
interpreting the trends of taste, or to Bobo, fantastic creator of material combinations as well as a refined
selector, or to Francesco, magical interweaving of relationships as fruitful as prestigious , a magician of
“external” catering, the real strength, the added value of Vittorio, the “sensitive and passionate mind”, is to
be found precisely in the “pink quota”, that is, in mother Bruna and daughter Rossella.
Our conversation, which would like to avoid addressing the now ubiquitous Covid issue, starts from the
relationship with customers. More Italian or more foreign?
Vittorio’s strength is by now powerful at an international level, Rossella begins. And this involves particular
attention to our business by the best foreign customers, attracted and intrigued by our offer.
Clearly, in the months of the lockdown, we had an important presence of Italian customers: mostly
historical, loyal, many. They come back to Vittorio’s, some even twice a week, first of all for our iconic
dishes. Sometimes they look for proposals off the menu … and they are always satisfied. They come to us
because here they feel at home, pampered, safe, happy.
Which age group is most represented?
At our tables we see the generations, from grandfather to grandchildren, and they periodically return to
visit our family. In turn, or all together, as if every day were a big family celebration. They know they will
find here a transversal answer to their desires, not only gastronomic but emotional. The atmosphere that
best suits their need to be together.
The value of loyalty …
It is a great satisfaction for us to see this formidable attachment … But it is also a great pleasure to be able
to host so many new customers, who arrive for the first time, “moved” by an incredible curiosity towards
us, our family, our style of work and life. And, of course, our great kitchen
They want to know the family, mother Bruna, our cornerstone, the next openings, the pastry shop (the DAV
in Albano Sant’Alessandro, two km from the restaurant), where a working group of pastry artisans produces
all of Vittorio’s sweet line, which our customers know well and they appreciate.
The organization of dining room work is a delicate and complex activity, even more so when it comes to
hospitality. Are you satisfied with your team?
Our guys are fantastic and prepared, as well as excellently guided and coordinated, even if this emergency
period has complicated things a lot. On the other hand, it is the kitchen line itself which, by providing
important dishes, in terms of material and execution, requires solid professionalism from those who work
at Vittorio’s. Passion alone is not enough. The rest is done (or should be done) by formation, in the sense of
a culture of receiving. But also of culture tout court.
How important is training?
Fundamental. Knowing the service techniques, the right approach to the customer. For example, knowing
how and when to interrupt the conversation to describe the dish … And knowing how to tell it, having
understood who you are in front of. It is not an easy job: it requires training, of course, but also empathy,
harmony, concentration, as well as an innate ease, the result of curiosity and passion.
Attention to detail is everything in fine dining. But also telling a wine without intimidating the customer or
putting him in awe, knowing well the wines that are presented, serving them correctly, without too many
preambles, is a complex job, an art.
In your opinion, what are the reasons why a young person should feel fulfilled by working in the dining
room, breaking away from the waiter’s cliché, a role that sometimes appears forced and reductive?
Working in the dining room helps you build relationships with customers, build relationships that often
allow you to grow. It is certainly not a fallback to cooking, but rather a way of evolving by learning from the
guest, also by gathering opinions and points of view on the dishes, on the restaurant, on the work of the
chefs and the brigade.
Unfortunately, few know how to take advantage of this opportunity and for this very reason I want to insist
on the need to be sensitive in understanding who you are in front of.
For some customers it is enough to be reassured about what they are going to eat, while others want to
know more (or often think they know more, ed.), They ask you where that product comes from or what are
the grape varieties of a certain wine. They always want to know something more and the room must be
ready to give the appropriate answers, with clarity and style.
“Every time you approach the table you have to understand who you are in front of, how you have to carry,
this too makes the difference …” adds Mrs. Bruna, who should be awarded an elusive Nobel Prize for her
ability to psychological introspection, as well as for the experience, shared with her husband Vittorio,
during the years of business together, in via XX Settembre, in Bergamo.
A dutiful question about a now iconic dish on Vittorio’s menu, the legendary paccheri …
Pacchero, loved, praised, sometimes trivialized… In reality it is an extraordinary dish, which represents pure
taste, combined with the fulfillment of a desire on the part of the customer: to feel at home. Seeing the
slipper on your plate, in a three-star restaurant, is simply fantastic, it is an incredible piece of history.
Saying goodbye to Rossella, I like to quote here a passage from the book by Francesco Cerea, created with
Martina Maltagliati, just released in the bookstore for the Mondadori types: “Rossella and I are an
unbeatable team, I outside the restaurant carrying the Da Vittorio brand , and she directs inside: the entire
home, the gifts, the expansion of the business … Rossella takes care even of the choice of flowers with a
keen eye, even if the unsurpassed taste for decorations remains of Mamma Bruna. It was Rossella who,
together with our father, managed the transfer from the center of Bergamo to Brusaporto. She chose the
sofas, the curtains, every single piece of furniture with an air and a charisma in front of which nothing could
be objected (…).
Rossella is today the backbone of the restaurant. A professional with inexhaustible determination, in her
eyes we can read that desire to grow, evolve and improve always that she unites us all. Pay attention to it:
if you are a bit shy, at first you may find yourself in awe in front of the restaurant … At that point, Rossella
will have already noticed you and with her smile she will meet you, inviting you to enter with courteous
enthusiasm. Being a well-known brand will never distance us from the dimension without which we would
be nothing: the family “.
Thanks to Rossella, but also thanks to Francesco for reminding us of how much she matters, even in haute
cuisine, the value of the family. “Alone we are strong but incomplete. Together we are a perfect but
unstoppable machine, capable of overcoming even the most obstacles fearsome “.