For decades, Visconti’s Ristorante has been known for dishing up delicious Italian fare that is created right here in Folsom. It’s a trait the family owned restaurant is known and loved for, right down to locally made pasta, sauces and all. Now, Folsom’s favorite Italian restaurant is serving up something else that’s made right here in Folsom, a beer complete with the Visconti name on its label.
It’s known as Birra Romeo and it’s a collaboration of locals that have brought it from a concept to the keg and the can. Described as an Italian Pilsner, Birra Romeo was created by a well-known brewer in Folsom, Erik Schmid and the crew of Red Bus Brewing Company, along with a unique label designed by Folsom’s Brian Wallace Art.
The collaboration came about a few months ago when Tista Visconti began looking at options to discontinue serving solely from “big beer” options, otherwise known as beers distributed at a corporate level. Visconti wanted to offer patrons a house beer that was crafted right here in the community of Folsom. That was when he turned to Red Bus Brewing.
“When we decided to go away from corporate beer and distribution and strictly focus on small businesses working together it was a no brainer to collaborate with Red Bus Brewing in Folsom,” said Visconti. “Similar to the Visconti Family, Erik Schmid has been a Folsom community member for many years. Running a small business day in and day out can be tough, but by working together we’re able to bring something new and exciting to our patrons that neither of us could do alone- that’s community.”
Any fan of locally craft brew that lives in or near Folsom, surely known the great selections that Red Bus has to offer. Now, Birra Romeo is one of those selections. According to Schmid, the beer is a delicate light Pilsner similar to that of Peroni. Over the past few months, Schmid and Visconti have worked together to perfect the brew that is now available in cans as well as on tap. Like all of their beers, Birra Romeo is unique to the Red Bus Market so a trip to Visconti’s or Red Bus Brewing in Folsom is required to get your hands on a glass or a can.
“Red Bus does not distribute a lot of beer. It’s just not our business model to be a big distributor, nor do we have the production capacity,” explained Schmid. “When an opportunity to put our beer somewhere comes up, I am pretty selective of where it goes. I look for authentic, mostly family owned small restaurants or tap rooms versus the big chains.”
When it comes to being family owned and “authentic,” Visconti’s Ristorante certainly fell into Schmid’s requirements when it comes to being one of a few unique distributors of Red Bus Beers. Add to that…being able to have its very owned product complete with the Visconti name on the label.
“There is an authenticity those places share with Red Bus. Not just local, but truly community places. In Folsom, that means Visconti’s, Back Bistro, Beach Hut, That Dam Place, Samuel Hornes. In El Dorado Hills, it’s C.Knights Steak House, Aji Sushi, Relish Burger, those kinds of places” Schmid said. “They also have to understand we don’t have a sales force like bigger breweries, we won’t be there weekly to check keg levels, they have to make an effort to call us.”
While committing to being a distributor to unique family owned places like Visconti’s and others contributes to the workload and planning of production, Schmid says working together in the community is well worth the extra work it takes and he was excited to team up with Visconti family. “It requires a little extra effort on both sides, but it’s worth in in my opinion. When Tista reached out about really wanting to push the local button on this, and the challenge of creating such a delicate light beer style, I jumped on it.”
The beer itself wasn’t the only collaboration brewing in all of this. When it came to the label, Schmid turned to none other than Brian Wallace to create the unique label for it. Wallace is known for the creation of many Red Bus labels as well as a pair of local children’s books and has long been the designer of notable logos like that of the Historic Folsom Ice Rink, Folsom’s Community Service Day and others.
Now, one can wrap their hand around a “cold one,” and admire not only the Red Bus and Visconti names on it, but the eye catching artwork that brands Birra Romeo using both the traditional Red Bus automotive themed elements, combined with a bit of Visconti family history.
“The label is inspired by the Alfa Romeo crest. Except, we replaced the elements with the Visconti’s family crest and the Volkswagon Wolfburg crest side by side,” said Schmid. “Using the Alfa Romeo logo as a base, with it’s Italian heritage, similarity to the Visconti family crest, and our car theme, it just works”
For Schmid and his team at Red Bus Brewing, every beer is unique and end the end, is a work of art that is a labor of love. Birra Romeo is now one of them and sure to be a favorite for years to come. According to Schmidt, its one of the beers he has been looking to add to his line for some time.
“These are the beers, and the challenge to make them well that I personally love,” said Schmid. “Red Bus is all about traditional beer styles and variety. Honestly, I have been looking for a fixture pilsner like this at Red Bus too, it’s really cool that we developed with Tista and Visconti’s, and our staff has a new favorite. We will have on continuously now.”
For Visconti, while his mission he set out for was to “go local” when it comes to beer options and develop a unique brew with the family name it was about much more than that. It was about working together in his community, something that both Schmid and Visconti have built much of their success on over the years.
“Small businesses have been the backbone of bone of America. And in times like this where the small businesses are getting pushed out by large corporations it’s time to get back on track and remember how this country operates,” said Visconti. “It operates together with community.”
Visconti’s Ristorante is located at 2700 East Bidwell Street in Folsom learn more about them at www.viscontisristorante.com. Red Bus Brewing Company is located at 802 Reading Street, learn more about them at www.redbusbrew.com.