When Venetian cuisine is renewed: interview with Dario Spezzamonte
The Estro restaurant. Wine and cuisine is located at number 3778 in the Dorsoduro district, along the Calle dei Preti, a stone's throw from Campo Santa Margherita and the Basilica dei Frari, in what the Michelin guide defines the “slightly more secret Venice”. Estro is a modern wine shop with an important wine list entirely focused on natural wine labels. The wines are flanked by a small room and a kitchen of research and enhancement of local products, which the inspectors of the Guide par excellence include among the quality kitchens of the lagoon capital. Then of course, as in all places where wine is poured in Venice, the tradition of aperitifs and snacks between meals cannot be missing.
Estro. Wine and cuisine has been relying on ENOWEB since April last year. We asked Dario Spezzamonte who takes care of the dining room and the cellar to introduce us to his restaurant and to make an initial assessment with us on the use of the program.
"We opened Estro in 2014 with the idea of offering only contemporary cuisine. We wanted to give our restaurant a more international flair, moving away from what could have been the usual tradition of Venetian catering as it has been consolidated since the Eighties and Nineties… a formula that is now hackneyed, dead and buried. Look, by this I absolutely don’t mean that the food is bad in Venice. There are many interesting places where you can eat really well and make an innovative cuisine, only they get lost in the great indistinct magma, in the vast majority of businesses that simply offer tourists the usual cliché. On the other hand, it’s also true that supply depends on the type of demand and not just the opposite. But here in Venice, if you know where to go, it’s really possible to eat with quality, much more than in any other city in the Veneto.
To achieve our goal we have chosen to focus on a simple, solid cuisine based on quality products.
For example, as far as wine is concerned, we immediately focused on natural wines. We haven't even been there too much to advertise this choice. This is because it seems almost obvious to us.
The future of wine is this. Just as for raw materials we favor local products and conscious producers who work in compliance with natural cycles. In our opinion, contemporary catering cannot ignore this starting point: choosing natural wines, local products, quality-conscious producers. It seemed like the most natural thing to do. "
Continuing with the presentation of the restaurant, who do we find in the kitchen and in the dining room?
“My brother Alberto and I represent the property and coordinate respectively, I the dining room and the cellar and my brother the kitchen. The executive chef, Alessandro Gazzola, is a very good young man who comes from the Alajmo school (he worked at Calandre and Quadri as head of ABC). The three of us are joined by a small group of enthusiastic and very capable young people who are divided between the kitchen, dining room, bar, administration and communication. They are all younger than us (I am 34 years old and my brother 39) ”.
How is your audience composed?
“For the vast majority they are tourists, also because there are fewer and fewer real Venetians. It may seem strange but it is also for this reason that my brother and I (our family is originally from Murano) chose Venice to carry out our entrepreneurial project. It is also a fact of 'resistance', a gesture of love for our city.
The territory in our restaurant is present not only in the kitchen but also in the dining room with many furnishings and objects made by local artisans. In particular, I would like to mention the hand-made glasses that we have a glassmaker friend of ours made expressly for us, as well as the lamps that are in the room. The whole wooden part was made by a friend of ours who is a carpenter here in Venice. In general, also for this aspect it was my brother and I who took care of everything. "
Estro uses ENOWEB, how did you get to know the program?
“Actually the program was recommended to me by a friend, Raffaele Bonivento of Meteri. A little over a year ago, when I was still working as a consultant for this important natural and organic wine distribution company, I found myself looking for a solution that would help me manage the warehouse in my restaurant's cellar in a more professional way. It was Raffaele who introduced me to the program by letting me also try the main features ... given the enthusiasm with which it was recommended to me, it seemed almost natural to contact E-Group. "
How was the warehouse managed before ENOWEB? Did you have another program?
"Ninth. I did everything by hand, with the help of the classic Excel file, as many of my colleagues still do. The paper was then paginated and printed with Word. So for me the move to ENOWEB represented a 'crazy' improvement. "
In order of utility from your point of view, what were the most notable innovations?
“First of all, the great convenience of always having the warehouse under control, this represented a truly remarkable advantage. The fact of having a complete inventory in real time, an up-to-date wine list with real stocks, invoices and all the information you need can be reached with a click ... "
What do you bring to the customer, the tablet or the paper wine list?
“We have a couple of paper wine lists that we keep for the public. I propose the wine list on tablet only to customers who are most interested. This is because it’s a tool that requires a minimum of basic knowledge to be used. If I limit myself to bringing the tablet to the table for a customer who may not even know where to start, I’m not doing exactly good service. However, here with us for the way we have set up our work, most of the customers prefer to be advised without consulting the paper. If anything, the wine list is more of a support tool. Let's say that 80% of customers do not even open the wine list and the tablet version I keep it as an extra service for more interested customers who often take it almost like a game, to satisfy their curiosity. Let's say that if I were a customer of a restaurant, the menu on a tablet is exactly the tool I would like to find when I have to choose a wine. "
If your customers rely so often on your advice it probably also depends on the fact that most of them are foreigners and therefore eager to try new labels of a territory and a production they don’t know. Does this create any particular problems for you?
"Absolutely no. Indeed for the most part it solves the problems. And this for various reasons: in the meantime they are on vacation, therefore already more relaxed in themselves ... then they are much more predisposed to being advised and of course they almost always go to choices of the territory ... and in general it is much less complicated to please a foreigner rather than a local customer. "
Let's talk a little about the numbers of your cellar ...
"Meanwhile, the fact that he voted only to natural wines already cuts out many productions that instead appear in the cellars of Italian restaurants. In reality, within the world of natural wine we are not oriented towards any specific area. Clearly being located in Venice and using mainly products of regional origin in the kitchen, Veneto is one of the best represented geographical areas, so much so that I can say that at least 90% of what is the production of quality natural wines in our region can be found in our wine list and then there is a lot of France because even for natural wine lovers the French one is undoubtedly one of the most interesting productions. Also from our point of view it is always stimulating to follow what the most avant-garde winemakers do, so not only do you sell a lot but also buy a lot because there are always new proposals to try.
On the other hand, precisely on this aspect ENOWEB is an indispensable tool because I can immediately see what is there and what is missing, what is sold and what is sold less ... and in this the program helps me a lot. The moment I am in front of the sales agent, who has to take charge of the order, I immediately see what I need and what I don't need. Basically it helps me not to waste time and money. "
Do you use barcode labels?
"Of course. As a rule, we keep a register on the counter where during the service we attach the labels of the bottles that we bring to the table and then the next morning with the barcode reader we first download them from the inventory. This feature is also very useful. Of course there was a bit of work in the initial phase because starting from scratch we had to print and glue the labels on all the bottles but now in the daily management phase everything is really very convenient, fast and - above all - proof of error.
Among other things, we also had the warehouse a bit stopped because we had stopped the activity to do some work. At that time we had more or less 3 thousand bottles. "
How many are there today?
“But… wait a minute I see. It takes me a few seconds. Then in the first inventory of April 6, 2018 we had 2988 bottles and 496 labels while today the labels are 549 and the bottles are much less we are at 2700! "
The fact that today the Estro wine list offers a greater number of labels than 10 months ago, but fewer bottles are stored in the cellar, is a fact that speaks for itself as regards ENOWEB's ability to optimally manage the warehouse. All the more important for realities such as Estro in Venice where the limited space available to the cellar could represent a limit to Dario's great passion for researching new labels and where wines are proposed that largely due to their characteristics, being devoid of of added sulphites, are less suitable for long-term storage and therefore require frequent replacement.
March 20, 2019
Piergiovanni Mometto [www.mometto.net]