“It may be located on bustling 14th Street, but beautiful Bresca far from blends in with the crowd,” state MICHELIN inspectors of executive chef and owner Ryan Ratino’s one-MICHELIN-starred restaurant in Washington, D.C. “Instead, this inviting restaurant mixes the warmth of a neighborhood treasure with the talent of a special occasion spot.”
Bresca opened in September of 2017, Ratino’s first solo venture—something he never thought he would do as a preteen watching Emeril Lagasse on television and then trying his hand at recreating his dishes. “I was intrigued by what I saw on television and then just started to experiment by myself,” he says.
During his culinary school tenure at Le Cordon Bleu in Orlando, Florida, Ratino’s peers dubbed him as “The MICHELIN Man,” as he was obsessed with the all the restaurants of the original France guide and taught himself techniques through their various cookbooks. From there, Ratino trekked along the East Coast, cooking at Caviar Russe, wd~50 and Dovetail in New York City, before planting his roots in Washington, D.C. and working the line at two-MICHELIN-starred minibar.
When push came to shove, Ratino finally decided to work for himself, opening his 60-seat Bresca in Logan Circle. The focus of the menu is Paris bistronomy “with a paired down environment and strong focus on technique,” he says. Ratino is quick to admit that he was a bit “all over the place,” when they opened, peppering his predominantly French menu with other global influences. “We gave ourselves those parameters that you always thought you never wanted,” he says. Now, reeled in, Ratino’s menu is a reflection of both classic French technique and flavors while working with local purveyors and incorporating flowers and herbs from the restaurant's rooftop garden. “It’s very small, but so are we,” he adds.
Bresca received a MICHELIN star in the MICHELIN Guide Washington, D.C. 2019 selection, making for a delightful one year anniversary and milestone. “I’ll never forget—11:04 a.m., I was parking my car right down the street and I got the phone call,” he says. ”I cried like a small child—it was awesome.” The enormous buzz sent some 100 walk-ins to Bresca that very night. “We weren’t used to it yet, we weren’t ready for it either—it was wild.”
Bresca retained its star in the 2020 guide, and Ratino sees no sign of slowing down with the opening of his tasting counter, Jônt, on the horizon. “There’s opportunities out there to keep evolving to higher levels and pushing ourselves,” he says. “I think that’s the next two years for us, just making sure in those two years, we’re doing everything we can to provide the right experience for people.”
Watch the full video below.