One of Berlin’s best casual-steak restaurants, Ruben & Carla not only have a brilliantly-beefy concept to appeal to the differing needs of lunch & dinner customers, but they also specialise in steaks served the Italian way… We caught up with owner Sebastiano Caraccia to find out more.
Your “NY pastrami bar by day and prime steak restaurant by night” concept is brilliant! Was this always the idea with the restaurant or did it develop into this naturally over time?
This has always been our original idea: to start we decided to concentrate on a limited number of prime quality meat dishes, then we thought that in our hectic times very few people have the time for a proper lunch so we decided to organise the restaurant in 2 different concepts: a quick and easygoing pastrami and burger bar at lunch time and a cosy candlelit restaurant at dinner…hence the name Ruben & Carla:
Ruben identifies the daytime where we are specialised in the pastrami sandwich (known in the States and Israel as Reuben sandwich), Carla identifies the Italian dinner side and it’s a tribute to my beautiful wife Carla!
Tagliata is your steak speciality. Explain what this is to those who don’t know?
The “tagliata” is an Italian twist on serving steak, originally from Tuscany but now found all over the country.
It is actually a simple dish and the main difference between the tagliata and a steak is that the meat is completely fatless and it is served thinly sliced.
In Ruben & Carla we use the best possible cut for it: the sirloin. After having all the fat removed, it is quickly seasoned in Italian extra virgin olive oil with just a touch of salt and pepper, then grilled and served with our special secret sauce (made of over 12 ingredients), hand cut fries, rocket salad leaves and oven baked cherry tomatoes…it’s a must try!
What’s the key to making amazing pastrami like yours and which country is your beef from?
The pastrami is made from a relatively poor cut of the beef, the brisket, so what makes ours special is the mix of herbs and spices in which it’s seasoned (can’t reveal it!) and the way we cook it in steam boilers especially made for us in Italy on specifications coming from Israeli experts.
Now, regarding the meat. Since we opened Ruben & Carla we haven’t stopped looking for better quality and we are now happy to have found a great German meat, coming actually not far from Berlin, which is really good for the environment…less kilometres, less pollution!
Your delicious burgers are actually served two on a plate. What’s the decision behind this?
The inspiration in this case came from the mini burgers called sliders in the States, originally invented by White Castle, an American regional fast food restaurant chain located in the Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic United States.
But the real reason why we decided to serve the burgers in small buns is to allow people to have a great juicy burger even if they are not that hungry!
How much have your Italian & Israeli backgrounds influenced the restaurant menu, style and design?
I would say that the menu has been influenced quite a lot with our offering of homemade hummus pastrami, some pasta dishes as seasonal offers, the tagliata and our fully Italian wine list.
Regarding the style and design of the restaurant I’d say the result is more a mixed consequence of our travelling around the world!
Are you involved in anything other than the restaurant?
Yes, I split my time between Berlin and Milan where I work in the real estate business, not nearly as entertaining as the restaurant business!
Where do you yourselves like to eat out in Berlin?
In Berlin I like to take advantage of the great variety of ethnic restaurants, in particular I like to eat in Next to Kuchi – a great little place that makes you feel like being in Japan
Finish the following line: “For me, Berlin is…”
….the place to be in Europe! There is so much going on here. I’ve been coming here for just 4 years and the changes I have seen are unbelievable!
Be sure to pop into Ruben & Carla either for a delicious Pastrami sandwich for lunch or prime ‘tagliata’ steak for dinner!
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