It felt like the end of an era: when Giovanni, Arianna, and I connected at the Dispensa Pani e Vini in the heart of Franciacorta on my second night in Italy last month, we were all a little blue because we knew that it was one of Vittorio Fusari’s last nights in the kitchen there.
I ate at the Dispensa for the first time not long after it opened in 2008. It was the same day that I met Giovanni for the first time. He would become one of my best friends and the accomplice in many of my capers.
In 2013, when Tracie P was pregnant with Lila Jane, she, Georgia, and I ate at the Dispensa three times in the course of 36 hours (although one of those meals was a to-go repast shared in our hotel).
THAT’s how much I love this restaurant and Vittorio’s cooking.
A few days before I arrived in Italy last month, Vittorio had announced that he had accepted a position as executive chef at the Michelin-starred Pont de Ferr in Milano.
“It’s a big commitment and although my family supports my decision,” he told me that night, “it’s going to be hard for all of us.”
It’s going to be hard on Franciacorta, too.
I’ll be heading back to Franciacorta in a few weeks and I’ll visit the Dispensa for sure. After all, it’s the ideal location for Franciacorta visitors and franciacortini to congregate over a glass of sparkling wine. And I’m sure that the kitchen and verve of Vittorio’s cooking will continue to thrive there even as he oversees his staff from a distance.
But in the meantime, Vittorio has left the building…