Chef de Vito’s Bali high

il Lido
PHOTO: il Lido

il Lido Bali

Jalan Raya Kerobokan No 38, Banjar Taman,

Kuta 80361 Bali, Indonesia +62 361 731175

E-mail: info@illidobali.com

Osteria Art

55 Market Street

Opens May 18

RESTAURATEUR Beppe de Vito is on a roll.

Last month, he opened il Lido in Bali, bringing his Italian fine-dining restaurant concept from Sentosa to the Indonesian island. On Monday, he will open Osteria Art, inspired by the best osterias in Milan, Rome and Florence. In October, he will open Aura, a multi- concept, multi-faceted dining destination, at the National Gallery no less.

And for the record, he opened Southbridge Oyster Bar last October. That's four new restaurants within a year. It all seems like quite a feat, but Mr de Vito brushes it off. "Of course, it is ambitious, but having an experienced team on board means I can open three places in four months if I need to," he says. What he means is that each new restaurant is run by a team from an older restaurant. "This ensures that on opening night, we're over 90 per cent ready," he says.

Even before its opening, Aura, has already generated much excitement. The restaurant, which will open on Oct 9, will take up two floors of the National Gallery, and comprises four concepts, each an independent experience while complementing one another.

On the fifth floor is The Restaurant, which will seat 104 guests, and features contemporary Italian cuisines from all the regions of Italy. The vibe here is elegant and refined, but relaxed.

Up on the rooftop of the Galley is the Sky Lounge, boasting views of the Padang and Marina Bay skyline, on its outdoor terrace. It also comes with an indoor lounge, which will transform into a Raw Bar in the day, serving up salads, savoury tarts, foccacia and Mediterranean specialities for S$18 per person. There will also be an all-day menu of charcuterie, seafood, oysters, cheeses and pizzas. Later in the day, it will become a Tea Lounge, where high tea is served, also at S$18 per person. At night, the space becomes the Bar, serving up craft cocktails, champagnes, wines and beers to go with the all-day menu.

Mr de Vito got the space after bidding for it. "We studied who would go there. The Gallery is not just for tourists, but for Singaporeans as well. It is a lifestyle destination, and not just a museum," he says. "We are renowned for our Italian concepts, so this will be a chance to bring those concepts to a location with plenty of history and heritage," he says.

Part of the deal is that there can only be one Aura, and he cannot replicate the concept elsewhere. Aura, is a S$4 million investment, which Mr de Vito says he's funding "by selling my home". He plans to be there for 10 years. The kitchen will be headed by the team at il Lido at The Sentosa Golf Club, which will close in August.

Osteria Art, says Mr de Vito, was meant to open last October. But plans had to be put on hold when there was some trouble with the landlord. That meant having to find a new location, which took six months to secure.

Osteria Art will open at 55 Market Street, at the bottom of an office building. "The fine-dining restaurant is surrounded by banks, so this will be more of a place for power lunches, more corporate clients than for family and friends," he says, of the restaurant, which "feels like a gentlemen's club but ladies will be comfortable coming here too".

The menu will showcase Italian classics, such as Suckling Pig Porchetta, and Beef Agnolotti with Truffle and Roast Jus. Prices, Mr de Vito, points out are "valued". Appetisers and pastas will hover in the S$20-plus range, mains in the S$30s, and the suckling pig porchetta at S$98 for two. The kitchen will be headed by Andrea de Paola, who also heads the &Sons kitchen. Mr de Vito says, Osteria Art is not about the chef, but about the product.

"I want people to be able to come back every week, I want the place to be full every day," he says.

il Lido Bali came about when there was an opportunity available. It takes over the iconic location of Kafe Warisan, and the vibe there is a chic and relaxed Italian dining experience, that combines Balinese hospitality with Italian elegance.

The menu, spearheaded by de Vito and Italian chef Luca Masini, is all about authentic and timeless cuisine - familiar classics intricately re-interpreted through complex cooking techniques. The dishes are meant to be shared, such as the Grilled Octopus with Nduja, or the Crab Cakes with Avocado Cream and Bone Marrow Crostini.

"We had our soft launch last month; this month we started operations, and we are now ready for the summer crowd," says Mr de Vito, who stayed in Bali for about two months to understand the market.

"The idea is for people to find out about il Lido in Bali, when they are in Singapore, and vice versa," he says.

Whereas in the past, he worked with partners, such as with Roberto Galetti, for Garibaldi Italian Restaurant and Bar and later with Osvaldo Forlino for Forlino, Mr de Vito now prefers to fly solo, choosing to open restaurants on his own. "I like to act fast," he says. "But I'm always with my team. I'm very hands-on, so my staff always have support."

With partners, "it is good to have someone to stop me from moving too quickly, but I've learnt to sleep over it when something crops up," he says.

Since he only has himself to answer to, it means that Mr de Vito can turn things around quickly, should a concept not work. He cites the example of his English gastropub The Jackson Plan. The eatery wasn't doing well, and within a month, he turned it into the Latteria Mozzarella Bar. "Within three months, we doubled sales," he says.

Without having partners, Mr de Vito says, "there is less explaining to do. I like to lead with a clean leash".

Mr de Vito acknowledges he has made wrong moves before. "Expanding the il Lido brand, but in the wrong way," he says. Several years ago, he opened an il Lido cafeteria in Suntec City, and an iL Lido bar at Changi Airport Terminal 3. Both closed due to poor traffic. "With a brand, you want to bring it up to a higher level, and not bring it down. So if I want to do a new concept, I'll come up with a new brand."

He still has two more restaurants to open this year, but already Mr de Vito is planning to launch new restaurants next year. He declines to share more details, "it is still too early to announce, but definitely exciting stuff".

taysc@sph.com.sg

@TaySuanChiangBT


This article was first published on May 16, 2015.
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