One Michelin star, the SanBrite in Cortina is the restaurant that best interprets the Ampezzo tradition, projecting it towards a refined contemporaneity.
It is no coincidence that the hosts are Ludovica Rubbini and the chef Riccardo Gaspari, formerly at the helm of El Brite di Larieto, a guarantee of superb taste, hospitality and good food.
Opened in 2017, a combination of “san” meaning healthy in the local dialect and “brite”, that is the shepherd’s house in Ampezzano, the restaurant offers a mountains haute cuisine that blends great creativity with traditional flavors, remaining faithful to the choice of cooking only with ingredients produced by the family farm: from meats to cereals to cheeses.
The secret of my dishes is that the ingredients are born first and then the dish itself. This bond holds my lives together and lets me pass on the history of our mountains.
(Riccardo Gaspari, chef)
The interior design of SanBrite is the result of teamwork as Ludovica and Riccardo got involved, with the coordination of the architect Fabrizio Lucchetti, their craftsmen, and designer friends in order to create an environment that combines the aesthetic canons of Cortina’s traditional heritage with a contemporary design. According to this concept, with the help of the light designer Loris Zanol, real tree trunks have been transformed into spotlights, mounted on rails to move them according to the seating arrangements, whilst the vintage lights that illuminate the roundtables were part of the urban design conceived for the legendary 1956 Winter Olympics held in Cortina.
Talking about recycling, also the woods used for the tables comes from an old barn owned by Riccardo’s father and they have been artfully reassembled, like the floor, by the carpenter & wood wizard, Christian Menardi. The chairs, a masterpiece of design in iron and wood, have been specifically designed for SanBrite by interior designer Rossella Reale who has combined Eames with the mountain utility work.
SanBrite is adjacent to Piccolo Brite, the delicious gourmet dairy that the couple opened in 2012, a paradise for mountain cheeses made with the milk of their cows without, like all the products they choose to use, any use of any chemical. For vegetables, in the valley in front of the SanBrite, an organic garden has been created, so beautiful that, in addition to providing the raw materials for the kitchen, it is also the setting for gourmet lunches organized in the convivial table with a view of the wonderful peaks of the Tofane.
The cuisine always surprises, following the brilliant creative flair of Riccardo who, in addition to the recipes that have made him one of the most famous “high altitude” chefs in Europe, from speck tartare to corn paste to venison ragù, he loves being inspired by the recovery of ancient Cortina’s traditions to create dishes that are the result of unusual culinary combinations such as spaghetti with mountain pine and “Prato”, based on spontaneous herbs collected in the woods.
The cellar is also excellent, the result of a careful search for biodynamic and natural wines, especially from the local territory.
The real marvel of SanBrite is that it can be experienced in so many different ways, depending on the season and the creativity of Ludovica and Riccardo: perfect for a gourmet dinner, a brunch with a visit to the dairy and tasting of mountain cheeses and meats, a picnic in the garden or on the convivial table in the vegetable garden, or you can take advantage of the many events organized during the high season such as après-ski aperitifs or high altitude lunches with the Brite Mobile, an innovative show-cooking kitchen.
The blue vintage lights were recovered by Ludovica when, in 2013, they were about to be decommissioned from Corso Italia in the center of Cortina because they were too difficult to manage. After the Municipality’s ok to “save” them from oblivion, they were adapted to modern technology and installed at the SanBrite.
(Photos of the dishes by ph. Stefania Giorgi)