After closing Ripple in Washington, D.C., chef Ryan Ratino melds old (mead) and new (bistronomy) at Bresca, his ingredient-focused restaurant, which makes its D.C. debut today.
If you look at chef Ryan Ratinos’s resume, you think you can piece together the kind of restaurant he’d open. Maybe there would be a tasting menu focus via Dovetail in New York City, or tons of caviar after clocking in time at Caviar Russe. Perhaps that love of deconstructing and reconstructing dishes into new and boundary-breaking heights would inspire the menu, per his experiences at wd~50 in the city or minibar in Washington, DC. Or would he echo the purveyor-driven ethos of Ripple, the beloved restaurant in DC’s Cleveland Park neighborhood he closed earlier this summer?
Today, Ratino opens the doors of Bresca, his first restaurant, and it’s inspired by something totally different but not unexpected for the chef: bistronomy. “I wanted to create something that sums up all my personal and culinary experiences, and bistronomy is that perfect combination of my passion for French techniques, the importance of sourcing the best products and the creation of new traditions that everyone can enjoy,” says Ratino.
After a recent trip to Paris, he was drawn to the natural ebb and flow of the bistronomy—"Nature isn’t static. It’s always moving, and we want that same dynamism to be reflected in our menu,” says Ratino.
Back in the kitchen, you’ll find the fruits of that change, globally: white asparagus from Holland, chanterelles from Oregon and African blue basil and lemon verbena plucked from the rooftop garden. Whatever is peak and pristine, no matter the distance, he’ll seek after it. But that doesn’t mean Ratino’s overlooking local growers and vendors. He’s just hunting for the best for his guests.
“I want our cuisine to be warm and friendly,” he says. “I want it to be about ‘giving’—giving to your stomach, to your heart, your mind, rather than trying to impress.”
That generosity and joy in feeding people—along with a few flourishes reminiscent of his past—overflows into Bresca’s first menu. There are buckwheat pancakes with caviar and parsley ice cream, pastrami-style beets, an “old a** entrecote” aged for 65 days and grilled over a binchotan and the equally cheeky and mysterious named “Chicken or Egg?” served with jamon iberico. He’s fermenting his own mead, and the bee theme runs throughout the restaurant from the hexagon pattern throughout the sunny yellow-accented restaurant to the bug-shaped cocktail vessels.
Days before today’s opening, the Bresca team took their staff photos—laughing, turning the menu into a telescope and shot-gunning PBRs. Ratino may have a serious pedigree, but it’s clear that you’re coming to Bresca for a good time and, yes, good food and drink. And that’s exactly the kind of restaurant you’d expect him to open.