Leading a kitchen brigade at 20. The youngest chef in Turin at Vibes

Jun 26 2024, 12:28
Right under the Mole Antonelliana, Vibes is a restaurant and cocktail bar where you can even have breakfast from 7 AM with patisserie croissants, and everything is sustainability-focused. And the chef, Alberto Sperlinga, is only 20 years old

Vibes is the brainchild of Fabrizio Rolando and his wife Victoria. Fabrizio, a Turinese with a managerial career that took him around the world, decided to return to his city and change his life: he became an entrepreneur in the restaurant industry. He took over Vibes, a trendy spot on Via Montebello, and is transforming it with a new innovative, sustainable vision, attentive to food intolerances. Recently, the restaurant joined the Mangiare Fuori Casa (Eating Out) program of the Italian Celiac Association and alongside vegetarian and vegan options, it also offers a gluten-free menu. He chose to entrust the kitchen—a young and international team, with members from Argentina, Afghanistan, and Italy —to a passionate and very young chef.

Passion for cooking

Alberto's passion for cooking started as a child, watching his mother and grandmother prepare Sunday lunch. He began to help out, and from then on, you could say he never stopped cooking. His choice of school was inevitable: first, the Colombatto Hospitality School in Turin, then a diploma from the Academy of Haute Cuisine in Alba. While still a student, at sixteen, he started working in the kitchens of some Turin restaurants. In early 2022, he had his first real internship at the Michelin-starred restaurant La Madernassa, under Chef Giuseppe D'Errico. This was followed by another Michelin-starred experience at Piano 35, working alongside Chefs Marco Sacco and Christian Balzo. In April 2024, an unexpected opportunity arose, fulfilling a dream he'd had since those Sundays cooking with his mom and grandma: taking charge of the kitchen at Vibes Restaurant with the goal of creating innovative dishes while respecting Piedmontese tradition. The rules: sustainability, zero-mile circular economy, quality fresh and seasonal ingredients from small local producers. Alberto proposes the menu and discusses it with Fabrizio every month.

The Vibes menu

Together, they created the first brand-new menu. Starters include Fassona and Smeraldo, cubed raw Fassona beef with rocket pesto, parsley oil, and bell pepper balsamic vinegar; Tuna in Port, tuna with parsley, vermouth, and port; and Zucchini and Mint Cream with artichokes and kefir. Among the first courses are the indispensable gnocchi (revisited), agnolotti del plin, and the chef's favorite creation: smoked bucatini with aubergine, soy sauce, and cherry tomatoes. Meat mains include Manzo al Pascolo, Fassona beef fillet with bell pepper cream, apricot cream, and sautéed chard; and fish dishes such as Isola in Piemonte, sea bream with carrot cream and mustard, parsley gel; or Morozzo cockerel breast glazed with teriyaki sauce, ponzu sauce, and grilled pak choi. Among the desserts is the upside-down tart: chocolate shortcrust pastry, pear jam from the Cuneo valleys, and Italian meringue. Territory and creativity are the hallmarks of Alberto's cuisine.

Female mixology

But Vibes has another unique feature: the cocktail bar is entirely run by a bar lady, Paola Costamagna. With an unmistakably Piedmontese surname, she was born in Peru, where her family had moved, and has lived in Latin America, North America, and Spain. Paola also loved cooking since she was a child, creating multicultural recipes. Initially, to complement her dishes, she moved into the world of drinks. At 20, she returned to Turin, trained in various bartending schools, and started creating cocktails. In 2005, she won the Italian Female Championship of Flair Bartending, the Gancia Flair competition. She brings her culinary creativity behind the bar with spices, fruits, and vegetables for cocktails. Pairing and mixology: Fabrizio brought her to Vibes, creating Vibes Mixology, a multisensory experience of colours, aromas, and flavours from around the world. The essential Antonelli cocktail includes gin, white wine and bay leaf, lemon juice, pink grapefruit bitters, and a bay leaf garnish. Other notable cocktails include those with vermouth, and the Buttler: gin, marjoram cordial, fresh lime juice, pink pepper tincture, fresh marjoram, with a base that must rest in the dark for ten days. Paola's non-alcoholic creations are also innovative, featuring fruits, pomegranate juice, hibiscus flowers, lavender syrup, mint, and lemon juice. She prepares everything herself, from syrups to juices. Between dishes and drinks, there are definitely good vibes at Vibes.

Vibes Torino, via Montebello 22, tel.011-2078067; www.vibestorino.com

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