A Brazilian with Italian and Spanish roots, Bruno Alves's unique background and his family's love of food inspired and defined his passion for cooking. Growing up in a home where the kitchen took center stage, he was exposed to a blend of cuisines. Only later in life did Bruno realize his childhood was an elaborate education on some of the dishes and techniques he would later rediscover.
By Danielle Finnegan | February 15, 2023 | Guanacaste

Alves’s unconventional path to the kitchen didn’t include formal training, and there were a few detours along the way, including a successful career in advertising as Creative Director for a big agency. It was a lucrative yet unfulfilling career that ended when, one day, he spotted a restaurant preparing to open. He humbly asked for a job without formal training outside the childhood kitchen. The following day, he said goodbye to the corporate world and embarked on a new career as a dishwasher, starting from the ground up. Three months later, he became a line cook and never looked back.

Through hard work and curiosity, Bruno continued his professional journey in Italy, working for two of the country’s finest restaurants – San Domenico in Imola and Castel Toblino in Trento. Here, he developed his culinary point of view, focusing on the seasonality of products, craft, and quality, which he continues to believe today.

Back in São Paulo, home to some of the world’s best restaurants, he opened Albertina, named after his beloved grandmother. Albertina exemplified Alves’s core principles: seasonality, a healthy environment, and excellent produce. Many awards later, including a coveted Bib Gourmand, Michelin’s award for exceptional yet affordable dining, Alves is most proud of the restaurant’s team, many of whom were from poor neighborhoods of São Paulo that he trained and cultivated into restaurant professionals. Alves was forced to close Albertina during the pandemic and took the opportunity to return to Europe, this time Portugal where he helmed Herdade de Matinha before being called to Pura Vida.

Surprised yet thrilled he ended up in Costa Rica, Alves enjoys exploring the local ingredients and discovering new fish.

“I prefer to work with what I have, not what I want. The fishmongers told me the fish catch changes with the moon, called “fish of the moon,” which you will soon see referenced on my new menu.”

Bruno Alves

Right now, he is happy to have this opportunity at Ostra, where he plans to build an experience based on hospitality with plans to introduce Omakase, visiting chefs, Mardi Gras celebration, and of course, the “Catch of the Moon.”

He plans to mingle with locals to familiarize himself with his new home. “To learn about cultures, you must learn about food and music. Both come from the mouth,” he says. What is his perfect idea of happiness? Spearfishing followed by a nice meal and a good glass of wine. And as luck would have it, he finds it all here on Peninsula Papagayo.