Bettolino Kitchen has opened in Redondo Beach with Michelin-starred chef Fabio Ugoletti, who moved to the United States from Italy to open the restaurant, at the helm. The restaurant is under the same ownership as the popular Gaetano’s Restaurant, and the 65-seat plan offers tables, booths, and communal seating. The kitchen is enclosed by large glass walls so diners can see the action, and the menu is unique but quintessentially Italian. We had the opportunity to ask the owners some questions about their newest endeavor.
In a nutshell, what is the concept?
A modern Italian kitchen.
What inspired the concept?
The inspiration is derived from our love of people, food, and community. It’s a pleasure to see guests having a memorable experience within our four walls.
What's in a name? Does the name mean anything, and where did it come from? What is a bettolino? In Italy there are ristorantes, trattorias, osterias, pizzerias, and much more. These are all dining establishments, each different to some degree in nature. Before these dining establishments existed, there were bettolino. Imagine it's the 1600s and you are a traveler roaming from city to city. You come across a small village. In the village there are homes, trade shops, and a bettolino. You are hungry, so you walk into a bettolino. It’s lively, people everywhere, the buzz of conversation and the smell of fresh cooked foods are present. The owner approaches you with a tall chalice of wine and a warm plate of food.
That’s how we want to our guests to feel when they walk in our doors. Today, bettolino are nonexistent, but the culture of serving great food and drink accompanied with warm service has been engrained in modern-day Italian restaurants.
Is there anything special about your restaurant sign and logo? And who designed them?
We decided to have some fun with the design of our logo. We love a good competition, so we used logotournament.com. We posted our concept along with a basic idea for a logo, and hundreds of artists competed to design our logo. After a week-long logo tournament we picked a winner who designed two versions of our logo: a circle for stamps and branding and a rectangular version for our outdoor signage.
What’s your favorite example of this concept or cuisine that you’ve experienced elsewhere?
Our style of cooking is to take traditional Italian dishes and throw a current spin to them. Another restaurant that has a similar philosophy would be Tin Roof Bistro.
Are there purveyors or specialty produce that you're going to be serving that you'd like to highlight your relationship with?
We get our breads from our Uncle Paul’s bakery (Giuliano’s in Gardena) or make it in house. Local produce we pick up from our cousin Tom, who works for LA Specialty, and meats we get from our Uncle Vinny. We import prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and aged traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena.
If you were forced to name one dish that people need to come check out at the restaurant, what would that be? Why is it important and how is it made?
This is a tough one. Although all of our pastas are house-made, I think the dish that really makes us stand out is our guancia (braised veal cheek, red wine reduction, potato-celery purée, and sautéed asparagus tips). The flavors of this dish complement each other so well — it is absolutely delicious!
Why is the chef passionate about this food?
Fabio Ugoletti has been cooking in luxury hotels and fine-dining restaurants across Italy since he was 14. He realized at an early age that the kitchen was where he wanted to be. His passion is to make great food that Grandma used to make, but with modern techniques.
Is there a bar program? If so, what is it all about?
We have an amazing wine list with 75 percent Italian wines and the other 25 percent local wines from across California. All of our beers are from local microbreweries. We also have artisanal house-made soft drinks (my favorite is blackberry basil: blackberry purée, basil, fresh citrus, and sparkling water). We are in the process of attaining our type 47 license which will allow us to pour hand-crafted cocktails.
What do you want to be known for? What experience are you looking to create for your patrons?
We want to be known for authentic/modern Italian fare with exceptional guest service in a hip, energized atmosphere.
What sets you apart from your neighbors or competitors in location and cuisine?
The Giuliano/Liguore family has years and years of restaurant experience with a restaurant blood line that dates back to the 1950s. The service and attention to detail they bring to the table, combined with Fabio’s culinary skills, are a home run. Not to mention the energy and atmosphere that you feel when you walk through our doors.
Do you have an idea in your head of what kind of star-rated restaurant this will be? What star rating are you going for?
We are modest — perfectionists. We aren’t the type of team to say we will get five stars, but we’re absolutely going for them.
Who designed your décor? What were you going for with the space and were there any particularly trying obstacles in the process?
Andreanna Liguore, one of the owners, designed the restaurant. She loves the rustic modern look and accomplished that with a mix of wood and zinc tables, refurbished wood accent walls, reclaimed wine barrel chandeliers, and Edison bulb sconces.