Beppe De Vito has been busy. His third restaurant this year opened at National Gallery Singapore on Oct 1 and, come December, the 43-year-old Italian will reopen Il Lido Singapore at Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort and Spa. With that, he will have seven restaurants under his company Il Lido, and a combined staff strength of 150.
“I am inspired first by the location where I am to open a restaurant, before I dig into my creative chest of ideas to come up with a concept.” And the ideas – amassed while travelling, and from working in the F&B industry since he was 10 years old – are clearly plentiful. He also analyses the demographics of the neighbourhood before coming up with a menu. Classic dishes are created in line with the identity of the restaurant, while specials are introduced according to the seasons and available produce.
“It’s a highly engineered process. We consider every angle and leave nothing to chance,” explains the veteran who arrived in Singapore in 1995 to open the now-defunct Bice Italian restaurant. His attention to detail brings to mind the fierce precision of fine watchmakers such as German watch manufacture A. Lange & Sohne, which practises “double assembly”, where movements are assembled for testing, taken apart, cleaned and put together again. De Vito might not set up a test restaurant only to tear it down and re-build it, but he has overcome his fair share of trials in a three-decade-long career to know exactly how he wants every detail.
7.30AM: BREAKFAST WITH FAMILY
Before Tanin, five, and Nico, three, head to school, they get to cook the morning meal with their father. Their mother, Lynn, carries one-year-old Lucio and watches them with a smile. “They are my shot of espresso,” says the proud father of four, as he supervises the cooking of eggs and sausages. Beppe De Vito wakes at 6am in the morning, though, to send his eldest son off at the bus stop. Marco, 11, takes the public bus to school.
At 8.30am, having said goodbye to Tanin and Nico, De Vito turns on his laptop to read e-mail before leaving the house. He works at the dining table, sitting on designer furniture from Moroso, and surrounded by art he and his wife have collected over the years. “I like to have beautiful things around me,” he says, pointing to a pair of Lin Tianmiao paintings hanging on the wall, and a Salvador Dali sculpture on a sideboard.
He is also happy to wear his love for beauty on his wrist, literally: the 1815 Chronograph in White Gold from A. Lange & Sohne. “It’s classic yet innovative, just like some of the artists whose works I’ve bought,” he points out. As the hands of the watch tick towards 10.30, he dons a jacket and prepares to head out.
10.30AM: VISIT &SONS AND OSTERIA ART
With its prime location in China Square Central, the bacaro concept (a traditional Venetian wine bar) that is &Sons becomes a hive of activity come mid-day. Which is why De Vito swings by beforehand to catch up with restaurant manager Rosario Ferraioli.
Then it is off to his classic Italian restaurant, Osteria Art, in nearby Market Street. According to De Vito, it was an “overnight success”. He checks in with executive sous chef Andrea De Paola, who presents him with a wholewheat and camut pasta. “It’s the third time I’m trying this. We want to perfect the texture and I think we’re almost there.”
12.00PM: ARRIVES AT AURA IN TIME FOR THE LUNCH SERVICE
The first F&B outlet to open at National Gallery Singapore on Oct 1, Aura was 15 months in the making and is the crown jewel in De Vito’s restaurant group. Made up of a fine- dining restaurant on level five and a bar-cum-lounge on the rooftop a floor above, the 9,000 sq ft space atop the former City Hall is all about “quality service, food at good value and beautiful design”.
He does a quick walkthrough of the kitchen to greet the culinary team, before heading into the restaurant to speak to the guests. It is only Day Five since Aura opened, and De Vito needs to work the floor to get feedback and thank customers for their support.
Up at the Sky Lounge on the rooftop, he recognises and greets a couple enjoying the Raw Bar. “Where else will you get a free flow of 12 different Mediterranean-inspired salads at $18++?” De Vito later asks, as he inspects the line-up of greens on the bar counter. In the afternoon, the space hosts a classic European high tea. With its stunning panorama of the Marina Bay area, he hopes Aura will be a destination popular with locals and tourists alike.
2.30PM: HEADS TO THE OFFICE
It is no walk in the park to run seven restaurants. “Sometimes, I can spend the entire day in the office,” muses De Vito. Here, he busies himself with reading activity reports about the on-goings in his mini empire, following up on e-mail, and having meetings with his staff in finance and human resources. “I make it a point to be aware of what is going on.”
4.00PM: SWINGS BY SOUTHBRIDGE
Southbridge is a bar on the rooftop of a building overlooking Boat Quay and the Singapore River. “I let the location speak to me,” reveals De Vito. When it did, he conceptualised a menu with hot and chilled oyster platters that can be paired with any of the 16 champagnes on the wine list. He checks in with manager Annabelle Joyce, who tells him that the customer feedback on the latest oyster sampler dish has been positive.
On a clear night, De Vito says Southbridge offers the perfect vantage point to compare the lunar display on A. Lange & Sohne’s Grand Lange 1 Moonphase with Earth’s only natural satellite in the sky. “We promise a great atmosphere and a view worth coming up here for.”
5.30PM: RETURNS TO AURA FOR PRE-DINNER CHECKS AND BRIEFING
As dinner approaches, Aura restaurant’s executive sous chef, Simone Fraternali, starts to rally the kitchen team. De Vito swoops in for a round of inspection, examining the produce and tasting the various soups and stocks. He says: “We want Aura to be the people’s Italian restaurant of choice.”
He later heads up to the Sky Lounge, to sample the classic cocktails that they want to promote for the evening – Caipirinha, Pina Colada and Berry Smash. At 6pm, Aura manager Jody Adler conducts the pre-dinner briefing with De Vito. The pair remind the service staff to invite diners to return and try the weekend brunch that Sky Lounge serves, “where guests can sit down, relax and enjoy themselves”.
6.30PM: DINNER SERVICE STARTS
Shuttling between the kitchen and restaurant, De Vito is constantly chatting with guests and checking on the food. “We want Aura to be a true night out, a fun place where people come for real food,” he explains. Although it is early days for the restaurant, he says there are already a few dishes that are starting to be favourites – crudo of Hokkaido scallops, tagliolini with scampi and casserole of quail. “We’ve even had guests bring their friends back to eat these items,” says a clearly delighted De Vito.
10.00PM: SUPPER AT NAGOMI WITH WIFE
Up to twice a week, De Vito tries to finish work early to have supper with his wife. “Otherwise, I will work till midnight,” he says with a laugh. Tonight, the A. Lange & Sohne Saxonia Annual Calendar in Platinum on his wrist reminds him that it is one of those nights.
Among their favourite haunts include Nagomi at Cuppage Plaza. “It’s small, intimate and opens till late,” he explains. Another plus point: the excellent cooked food by chef-owner Nada Satoru. One of the must-haves is the deep-fried pork neck, which De Vito ensures is on their omakase menu. The meal is often washed down with sake. “There’s a really chill-out vibe here and we can take our time. After a hard day’s work, I like that very much.”
INNOVATION, TRADITION AND PRECISION
The three timepieces by A. Langhe & Sonhe donned by Beppe De Vito are each unique in their own right.
Saxonia Annual Calendar in Platinum: Understated elegance is what the platinum case edition of this timepiece exudes. One glance at the rhodiumed silver dial reveals the date, month, day of the week and moonphase – the latter of which is accurate for 122 years. Thanks to an ingenious mechanical built-in device, the watch automatically distinguishes between months with 30 and 31 days.
Grand Lange 1 Moonphase: An upsized version of the Lange 1 with a case diameter of 41mm, this piece stands out for the generous space allocated on the dial to the moonphase display. When accurately set, it need only be corrected once every 122.6 years. In addition,a patented coating process applied to the lunar disc gives the complication an appearance resembling the nocturnal sky, complete with 300 stars of different sizes.
1815 Chronograph in White Gold: Unveiled at Watches and Wonders in Hong Kong in 2015, this flyback chronograph comes with an innovative pulsometer scale. Blue numerals are paired with hour and minute hands in rhodiumed gold.