The end of Essenza, Torretta doubles

Da gennaio, il ristorante milanese fresco di stella cambia nome, chef e filosofia. Un'anteprima della svolta, 100% pesce

16-12-2017

STARDUST. Matteo Torretta and Federico Comi, chef and executive chef at the pass of restaurant Essenza in Milan, one Michelin star under the direction of Eugenio Boer. The latter chef left a few days after the prize arrived. Starting in January, the restaurant will have a new name and offer: 100% seafood. And Torretta will not leave Asola

Let’s recap. On Thursday 16th November the Michelin Italia guide was launched in Parma. Among the 22 Italian restaurants with a new star there’s Essenza in Milan. On the stage of Teatro Regio, Eugenio Boer confesses his «huge emotion» in receiving an acknowledgement he was aspiring to for some time. On Monday 20th November the Sicilian-Dutch chef served his last service in Via Marghera. In fact, the agreement with the owners had fallen through in July due to evident divergences.

That same month, Antonio Pianu and Antonio Zucca, the partners behind Essenza - and seafood restaurant Gallura, a traditional restaurant seating hundreds of people each day – found a replacement: Matteo Torretta, chef at Asola. The agreement with the big chef from Rho was immediately clear: as of January 2018 Essenza must change name (still to be defined) and philosophy, so that the offer will be 100% seafood.

Breton clam, herb panure, spherifications of wakame seaweed

Breton clam, herb panure, spherifications of wakame seaweed

Turbot, mushrooms, Roman broccoli and pil pil sauce

Turbot, mushrooms, Roman broccoli and pil pil sauce

«We’re working», says the chef after the recent soft opening, «to transform the place into a place coherent with the flagship restaurant. Via Marghera will be the high profile showcase for the headquarters, a boutique restaurant for Gallura». Torretta makes his entrance as partner (Boer wasn’t) and in the meantime he won’t leave the helm of Asola, a restaurant that has been stacking up tables for 4 years now. «I don’t have a star», he jokes, «but I know how to fill up a restaurant».

The executive chef chosen for this new phase at the old Essenza is 32-year-old Federico Comi from Bergamo, who was already working with Torretta 8 years ago, at Savini. First a significant experience at Osteria Brunello now the leap to the pass that was Boer’s for almost 3 years. There’s no hostility between the outgoing chef and the new one: «We are on good terms», points out Torretta, «which doesn’t stop me from developing ambitious projects with the new partners. By February 2018 we should also open a third place, a seafood tapas bar in Via Raffaello Sanzio».

Matteo Torretta with partner/owner Antonio Pianu. There’s another partner too, Antonio Zucca

Matteo Torretta with partner/owner Antonio Pianu. There’s another partner too, Antonio Zucca

L'insegna di via Marghera, prossima alla rimozione

L'insegna di via Marghera, prossima alla rimozione

Meanwhile in Via Marghera the new management is taking shape. A fish offer based on sound foundations («we have many big suppliers»), enhanced by small technical interventions and taste exuberances, perfectly coherent with Torretta’s style. Among the dishes we tasted as a preview, we recommend a nice and colourful Tartare of umbrine and mango, marinated with parsley on a gelée of hibiscus, the explosive Risotto with cream of peppers, paprika and smoked sardines, and the Turbot with mushrooms, Roman broccoli and pil pil sauce, delicate yet juicy, in the style of Martin Berasategui with whom the 37-year old chef originally from Apulia trained at length.

They’ll define menu of the old Essenza when the restaurant re-opens, after January 6th: «There will be no overlapping with Asola’s dishes», says Torretta, «We’re increasing the offer of champagne». The goal? «Serve 30 people per service. Even at lunchtime. We’re thinking of a slimmer business lunch format». In the evening, guests will spend 70 euros, excluding wines.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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