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Betulia’s The French Opens to Much Fanfare

Sacré bleu! Several parties in and the Naples dining public is whipped into a frenzy—see what all the fuss is about.



Photos: Caronchi Photography (food); Dorothea Hunter Sönne (other)

 

Restaurants come and go in this town, but one thing that’s for sure is there are usually a couple that come along per year and engender attention from when they’re just whispers in the warm breeze all the way up until the doors swing open for a VIP champagne reception.

That’s the case with chef Vincenzo Betulia’s The French Brasserie Rustique (or “The French” for short), which had several parties last week in anticipation of its opening on Jan. 24. It’s a departure, for sure, from his rustic Italian food at Osteria Tulia and Bar Tulia, just a few steps eastward on Fifth Avenue South. But he’s built a reputation for taking unique approaches to simple, classic dishes (everything he seems to put in a sauté pan comes out mouthwateringly delicious)—and he’ll be applying that here. Not to mention, he helped launch the fine dining French restaurant of his mentor Paul Bartolotta, a James Beard-winning chef.

The atmosphere is solid brasserie, what you’d find at New York’s Balthazar or any number of upscale-casual boîtes in big cities looking to emulate the timeless Parisian formule—mosaic-tiled floors, marble- and wood-topped tables, mirrors adorning the walls, plush red banquettes. It’s a concept that had been foreign to Naples until he decided to bring it to life.

What’s also different here is that you know Betulia will be in and out of the open kitchen, exacting the same attention to detail he’s been known to have at his other two eateries. From apples (a caramel-laden tarte tatin) to oranges (duck basted in sauce orange) and everything in between (a roasted chicken with whole sprigs of thyme and garlic confit and a mushroom ragoût), we have high hopes for his interpretation of French.

Scroll down for a sneak peek in pictures.

 

To plan a visit:

The French Brasserie Rustique

365 Fifth Ave. S., Naples

(239) 315-4019

thefrenchnaples.com

Open for dinner; brunch and lunch service to follow.

 

Get the Hot Dish every Wednesday and Friday online and every month in Gulfshore Life.

 

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