Thirty-five year old originally from Biella, Vanessa Vialardi has cultivated a passion for the mixing sector since she was a young girl, when she helped as a waitress and counter clerk in her aunt's family-run restaurant. The move to Turin for university studies in communications accelerated his entry into the world of work, thanks to the predominance that passion had taken over his studies. Today she is the bar manager and owner of D.ONE as well as, together with her operating partner Simone Nervo, Sandro Sanna and Stefano De Cesare, of Soho.23 in Piazza Vittorio.
Hi Vanessa, what was your path that led you to where you are today?
In the first year after moving to Turin to attend university, I worked in the dining room and, after taking American bartending and AIBES courses, within twelve months I entered the sector I wanted. My first significant experience was that of the Smile Tree in Turin, where I worked from 21 to 24 years old, the second was Soho.23, where I stayed for almost 8 years, and then the D.ONE in 2017.
Which bartender did you learn the most from?
I learned a lot from everyone, from the great bartenders with whom I shared the bar, to those younger than me. Everyone has had, has and will have something to teach: some from experience, some from enthusiasm.
Along the way, have you encountered greater difficulties than your colleagues because you are a woman?
Never. There have been occasions when my male colleagues underestimated me, but I have always asserted myself.
Which cocktail bars are you operating in Turin now?
After having worked for years under a boss, I felt the need to have something of my own and, at the end of 2016, together with Simone Nervo we took over, thanks to the help of another important person in my work - my employer at times of Soho.23 Stefano De Cesare – a historic venue in San Salvario. The D.ONE was born. In 2019 Stefano was still the owner of Soho.23 and, given its imminent openings in France, he needed someone who could help him follow this project, so Simone and I took over. We are co-owners of both places with Stefano and a fourth partner, Sandro.
What project did you have in mind for Soho.23?
The idea was to innovate but we had to deal with Covid-19, which slowed us down in the implementation of projects, both structural and drink list. The idea was not to replicate the D.ONE, nor to upset the nature of the place, but to innovate it according to our tastes while respecting the context and the needs of the customers.
Are you satisfied with your professional choice and the path taken?
I can consider myself satisfied, first of all because I am lucky enough to do a job that I love and that I wouldn't change for the world, and for the results achieved, for the projects completed and those that I still dream of realizing.
What studies do you do at D.ONE on mixing?
My cocktails are on the one hand innovative and on the other linked to tradition. When I create a new drink list I never leave out the customer's taste aspect because we must never forget that we make drinks for people.
How is the drink list structured?
Before the March quarantine we were preparing a new drink list. The idea of Ricordi Liquidi, then launched in May, was that of a menu built on 9 macro memories, from grandma's snack to the sunset on the beach, through to a day in the countryside. Through our drinks we tried, through the senses of sight, taste and smell, to recall these memories, thinking of a proposal for each of these. Grandma's Snack, for example, we recreated with brandy, Martini Riserva Speciale Ambrato, apricot liqueur, sour cherry jam, plum bitters and apple pie essence and the Day in the countryside with red Martini infused with laurel and savory, Martini bitter infused with lime and Baladin hay tonic water.
Are you already thinking about a new drink list? What theme will it focus on?
We are working on the next drink list, even if this situation we are experiencing has held us back in terms of timing. Let's try to move forward by looking to the future, when we can reopen and go back to work. I can't reveal anything on the subject: it will be a surprise!
Is there also room on the menu for some of your classics?
Yes, always, especially for three of these, which have become our customers' favorites. There is Cervezita, winner of the Birra Peroni award in the first edition of 'Un cocktail da Tavola' in 2018, and the two winners of the finals of the Mix Contest Italy Tour 2017: Aria di Torino and Il Torinese Riserva. 2017 was the first edition of the competition, held entirely in Turin. The participants, barladies and bartenders from 5 of the main Italian cities (Turin, Milan, Florence, Bologna and Rome) and elected through voting by the participating public and a technical jury, had to prepare two cocktails, a pre-dinner and an after dinner. For each stage, two finalists were chosen, who competed on January 22nd in Room 200 of Eataly Lingotto, in the grand final for the title of best bartender in Italy.
Your menu is always very carefully designed in terms of graphics. Who takes care of it?
Simone, my partner, takes care of the creation of our menus directly. He is the creative and operational mind behind everything related to graphics and communication for our restaurant.
How has the D.ONE proposal evolved in these three years?
Our proposal has grown a lot from the opening to today, while maintaining its own identity. With the latest drink list "Ricordi Liquidi" we tried to take an even further step, which could involve the customer in a sensorial experience capable of recalling certain memories in him, through smells and flavours.
How much attention do you pay to the gastronomic proposals? What did you decide to serve in combination with your cocktails?
The kitchen is an integral part of the service we offer our customers. From day one, we have availed ourselves of the advice and help of Ivan Onorato, chef of Cooking class heroes, who studies with us and our chef, Fausto Facchin, all the proposals for the aperitif and dinner. The dishes are created ad hoc, respecting the seasonality of the products and with an eye on our cocktail offer. Our menu consists of tapas entirely cooked by us - which can be ordered individually or in the 3 tasting menus (San Salvario, Sapore di mare and Vegetariano) - burgers, club sandwiches and pan pizzas.
The AIBES National Conference was recently held. Have you participated as a member of the Piedmont section for over 10 years?
Yes, I participated again this year. Unlike previous years, the competition was held in (regional) teams who could bring three bartenders and an aspiring bartender to the competition – BAR HERITAGE 1949. Each team member had to create a cocktail and each team had to bring a theme. We in Piedmont have chosen Gianni Rodari, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth. We have prepared four cocktails inspired by his most popular stories. The cocktail I created is called La Torta in Cielo; it is a long drink with Martini Riserva Speciale Ambrato, Marendry, Frangelico, cinnamon honey, pink grapefruit juice, ginger beer, with nebulized apple pie aroma, cookie velvet and caramelized apple chips.
What cocktail do you identify with most?
L'Aria di Torino, because it was born for fun during the preparation for the first edition of the Mix Contest Italy Tour and because it allowed us to win the competition, giving us a lot of visibility in an important showcase, just a few months after the opening. I prepare it with Martini Riserva Speciale Ambrato, Martini Riserva Speciale Bitter, elderflower syrup, pink grapefruit juice, Ginger Beer Royal Bliss and Velvet and bergamot essence. Many people still come to ask for it today and it has undoubtedly become our workhorse. It is a cocktail that we are very fond of.