Food, pizza, dining room, wines... 12 things you must know about Identità Milano

Andrea Ribaldone presents the wine and food offer in the new chefs’ hub. Including Franco Pepe’s delicacies...

17-09-2018

Andrea Ribaldone is, as usual, a wealth of carefree awareness. He’s full of adrenalin, lively, bold, and as focused as ever on the role he’s found for himself a few years ago, that of a modern chef-manager. As such, he manages the kitchen, invents dishes, promotes culinary ideas and selects a competent and suitably trained staff.

A few months ago, however, as the Identità Milano project – to which he contributes with his expertise, signing the menus on the days when a guest chef is not scheduled, and coordinating the kitchen brigade directed by resident chef Alessandro Rinaldi – was taking shape, we noticed in his eyes a touch of the anxiety that comes with crossing the Rubicon. Something normal for anyone, but not for him.

We met Ribaldone in Via Romagnosi 3. The headquarters of Identità Milano are still a building site, the last details must be fixed in view of the grand opening, on September 18th, so we move to a bar next-door. In front of a cup of coffee, we ask him about the culinary offer in the new Milanese chefs’ hub. Andrea is once again the river of ideas we’ve come to know over the years: the project is now perfectly shaped, he’s enthusiastic about it. So here’s his presentation, in 12 paragraphs.

Andrea Ribaldone in June, showing the project plan

Andrea Ribaldone in June, showing the project plan

MONDAY AND TUESDAY NIGHT DINNERS- «There will be a gourmet offer with four courses, following different themes each month», with dishes designed by Andrea Ribaldone. «We start in September with mushrooms and Funghi, dal mare ai monti (here’s the complete menu and the link from which you can book) on Mondays, and seafood and Pesce a Milano, un amore senza fineon Tuesdays (here’s the complete menu and the link from which you can book); hence two nights during which we can go wild. An interesting idea, because guests will be able to know exactly what kind of cuisine they’ll taste. We’re also getting ready, just to mention a few of the scheduled themes, for truffles  in November, and December, when we’ll present typical Christmas dishes from all around Italy, from north to south. This will peak with two big dinners on December 25th and January 1st».

A rendering of the dining room 

A rendering of the dining room 

LUNCH – As of September 24th, from Monday to Friday at lunchtime, we’ll offer a menu for 35 euros (Formula Business, with a choice of first course plus main course, or pizza plus main course) or a single dish from the menu, for a quick business lunch. «We’ll have very tasty recipes: there will always be risotto, pasta, pizza by Franco Pepe (see below). The idea is to create a space at lunchtime with a specific identity – just to be in topic – but even more accessible than in the evening, with signature recipes ready to be enjoyed during a pleasant break». A few recipes from the first lunch menu: La Montanara (fried pizza with tomato and basil), Onion cooked in salt and filled with onion, Wild salmon and sour cream, Marinated beef, cheese from Roccaverano and hazelnutsInsalata “maritata”, Risotto with three cheeses, La Milanese “Identità”Tiramisù, curry and pistachios...

Margherita Sbagliata by Franco Pepe (photo Brambilla-Serrani)

Margherita Sbagliata by Franco Pepe (photo Brambilla-Serrani)

FRANCO PEPE’S PIZZA – At lunchtime, as mentioned, guests will also be able to enjoy pizzas created by a master like Franco Pepe and baked every day by the staff at Identità MilanoPepe will present a special format of his pizza, dedicated to Identità: it will be smaller, so that guests can eat it as part of a small tasting menu. «We’ll start with three classics of his, the famous Margherita SbagliataScarpetta (buffalo milk mozzarella from Campania PDO, fondue of Grana Padano PDO 12 months, tomato compote, lyophilised basil, shaved Grana Padano PDO 24 months) andMemento (cream of onions from Alife, cream of chickpeas from the hills of Caiazzo, wild chicory, extra virgin olive oil). Then, the offer will change: there will always be two toppings by Pepe, and a third pizza with his dough, but with a topping chosen by the great guest chef».

Spaghetto Milano by Andrea Ribaldone (photo by Brambilla-Serrani)

Spaghetto Milano by Andrea Ribaldone (photo by Brambilla-Serrani)

ANDREA RIBALDONE’S PASTA SHAKE Andrea Ribaldone himself will take care of pasta, using a new format he designed. «The idea came from Spaghetto Milano which I created for Identità Expo: it had a cream of rice and saffron used as a sauce. Starting from this format, we’ll apply it to the culinary tradition of different Italian towns, again making an aromatised cream of rice, then mixed in a shaker with the pasta, by the table, in a special container, so as to blend the ingredients». We’ll start with the very Spaghetto Milano, a long seller, together with Napoli (that is to say pasta and a sauce of blended rice with tomato, mozzarella and basil) and Genova (rice with basil and French beans and potatoes). Then we’ll go wild, from Aosta to Palermo.

Alessandro Rinaldi, in the middle, last year when he was working in Punta Ala

Alessandro Rinaldi, in the middle, last year when he was working in Punta Ala

THE BRIGADE: ALESSANDRO RINALDI – The kitchen brigade will be made of 5 people, more in case of special events. Alessandro Rinaldi, born in Irpinia in 1989 will be resident chef. He’s worked for many years with Agostino Iacobucci at starred restaurant I Portici in Bologna, and before that he was chef de partie at Therasia in Vulcano. He’s joined Ribaldone’s team almost two years ago: «I chose him firstly because he’s very talented, secondly because he seems flexible, he takes on a challenge, interprets the context, doesn’t step away, in fact he gets enthusiastic. He’s got good skills and has had an important career, ranging with me from a kitchen "doing large numbers" in a big hotel in Punta Ala, to the trendy one of an hotel in the mountains, at SuperG in Courmayeur, to a more gourmet concept at Lino in Pavia. In every place, he did very well and showed determination». He’s young but no longer very young, hence he has sound bases. He’s capable of standing up to the task.

Gabriele Tangari

Gabriele Tangari

THE BRIGADE: SEBASTIANI SOUS CHEF AND TANGARI PASTRY CHEF -Alessio Sebastiani, born in 1990 in Garbagnate Milanese will be sous chef, after his experience at Giancarlo Morelli Ristorante del Viu, in Milan, and before that at Armani. «He’s never worked with me, I like his personality a lot». Gabriele Tangari, born in Milan in 1991, will be pastry chef. He’s worked for three years with Ribaldone, first at Uve in the Langhe, then Mudec with Enrico Bartolini and Park Hyatt. His master in pastry making was Luigi Biasetto. «His role will be very important because he will take care both of pastry making and of bread making, and he will be in charge of the dough for Pepe’s pizza. This is why he did a training internship in Franco’s pizzeria in Geneva».

A feature on Identità Milano published a few days ago on La Repubblica

A feature on Identità Milano published a few days ago on La Repubblica

RIBALDONE - «I will be the coordinator, coach, psychologist. It will be difficult to run a brigade that is always hosting different chefs. The challenge is hospitality. We must convey empathy, because when colleagues work in a kitchen that’s not their own, they often find themselves in a disorganised place. Not here. Here they will feel at home, among smiling people. There’s clearly plenty of opportunities. For the guys, they will be huge: think of what happened to Domingo Schingaro, who after the experience at Identità Expo now runs a brigade of 80 people at Borgo Egnazia. Indeed, in 2015 at Expo he increased his technical skills immensely, but he has also got leadership skills. Working every week on a different idea of cuisine: it’s extraordinary». Finally, «our ambition is for Identità Milano to become not just the classic restaurant where you go, sit, dine and leave. We’ll present a brand new format. We want to do something fun».

THE DINING ROOM– This is why the dining room service will be essential. «We chose all the staff ourselves. The first maître will be Andrea Polini, born in Bergamo in 1972, already at work with us at Identità Expo. By his side, his peer Alfonso Bonvini, born in the Marche in 1978, previously at Tokuyoshi. They’re two wine technicians, excellent sommeliers, and Alfonso is also a great sake expert, for unusual, so to speak, pairings. With them we’ll have six young people who have already worked with me». The idea is to create an elegant restaurant - «After all, we’ll have starred chefs, we must follow a vision and meet very high expectations» - but at the same time we must surround it with a very laid-back atmosphere, compared to a great classic location. «The dining room will be chic, the mise en place refined; but at the same time, we’ll have no tablecloths. The approach will be "real", contemporary, not pompous», always with the goal of attracting those who are not yet fine dining clients.

SERVICE TIMING – One important fact is that at Identità Milano dinner- and lunch, even more so – won’t last longer than two or three hours, as often the case in many fine dining restaurants. So this will also apply to the four-course menu in Via Romagnosi 3: «We will be faster. Dinner will last one and a half hours. Of course we will then give clients all the time they need to enjoy the place, have an aperitif or sip an after dinner cocktail if they wish, in complete relax».

Luigi Barberis in action (photo Riccardo Delfanti)

Luigi Barberis in action (photo Riccardo Delfanti)

COCKTAILS – And mixology in fact deserves a mention even know, given it will be an essential component of Identità Milano. A large bar will overlook the room, allowing to pair, every night, a cocktail specifically designed to be matched with the four-course menu. Before and after the dinner, the bar area will be open to clients. Luigi Barberis, born in Alessandria in 1980 will coordinate the offer. He’s a «great barman, the owner of two cocktail bars. He has a very modern vision of mixology: smart but serious, he’s capable of understanding the moment and the place». One of his close collaborators, Rei Merollari, will be the resident barman at Identità, ready to prepare excellent cocktails beside great chefs.

A rendering of the "virtual cellar"

A rendering of the "virtual cellar"

THE CELLAR Identità Milano is getting ready for the debut, and counts on important partnerships with great wineries, such as Moët HennessyBerlucchiAllegriniFerrari and many more who are joining them. The complete list, including national and international labels, will be guaranteed by WineTip, a company specialised in the selection and distribution of fine wines, with a special attention to the best wines from Piedmont, Tuscany, Burgundy, Bordeaux and over 3 thousand wines from all around the world. The wine pairings will be included in the menu, but if you want to choose your own bottle, you can choose from a prestigious list of 99 wines, which will change often, in terms of variety and size. It will be "multimedia": of each wine, guests will be able to find its story and the story of its producer through a sort of "virtual cellar" presented on a large screen through a specific app.

 

IDENTITÀ DI FORMAZIONE Identità Milano will count on the important support of interns, thanks to Identità di Formazione, a new great parallel project that will start early in October – we’ll return to it later in detail. «We strongly believe in this project – explain Claudio Ceroni and Paolo Marchi, the founders of Identità Golose – On the one hand, we are creating a hub for great chefs; on the other, we’ve created a structure for young people where they can acquire experience working side by side with our guest masters. This way we come full circle».

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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