Oldani and D'O are ready to surprise

In two weeks’ time, reservations will be open at the new restaurant. Also in Cornaredo. It will be 5 times as big

16-04-2016
The first thing Davide Oldani showed with pride,

The first thing Davide Oldani showed with pride, as soon as we entered the new location for his restaurant, which will be called simply D'O, no longer D'O La tradizione in cucina, was the new kitchen. It couldn’t be otherwise. For a cook the place housing ovens and stoves is the heart of a restaurant

A little more patience, a couple of months more or less, and by mid June those wanting to dine at Davide Oldani will always go to San Pietro all’Olmo, but no longer to the trattoria in 18 Via Magenta but behind it, in the restaurant he’s finishing to build in the main field in this hamlet of Cornaredo, west of Milan. You couldn’t get deeper roots than this.

The new D’O will overlook Piazza della Chiesa, on the short side opposite the Chiesa Vecchia di San Pietro. Aside from the bell tower, insignificant, destroyed during the last war and roughly rebuilt, the facade is embellished by four basins which once advised travellers that over there you’d be fed by men with Christian charity. Different times.

In the middle of the square there’s an elm tree, the church and tree have inspired the name of this hamlet, which Oldani made popular. It was 23rd October 2003, less than thirteen years later things are changing: «To think that I had renewed the rent for 12 more years, six plus six, but the place where I’m moving is my own, I bought it with the money put aside after the abrupt interruption of the business with the then Giannino, in the Cinque Giornate neighbourhood. It was 1998 and for the five following years I lived on consultancies, all well paid».

Those dining these days at D'O, find this note on the table. The new location for Davide Oldani’s restaurant in Cornaredo is almost ready, one hundred metres’ from the historic one

Those dining these days at D'O, find this note on the table. The new location for Davide Oldani’s restaurant in Cornaredo is almost ready, one hundred metres’ from the historic one

And while he speaks and I listen, we move from the from D’O’s entrance to the church, then the elm tree, then the building site of the new D’O, it’s a matter of metres but it’s as if Davide was retracing his life. Which began on 1st October 1967. «When they ask me why not Milan, after a dozen years spent in the countryside, I reply that, putting numbers aside, if you do something here it still has value. In Milan, instead, everyone, starting from the owner of the buildings, can’t wait for the moment they will double your rent or throw you out».

And here we are, inside the building site, speechless. Design by Piero Lissoni, grey and rationality dominate. Open view kitchen, an incredible Marrone of which Oldani personally took care of the details just like he’s designed the tables, which have not yet been delivered. When you go inside, the kitchen is to the right, like in the old D’O «except I move from 185 square metres to 900. Basically, the kitchen will occupy the entire space of the old restaurant». And the rooms for the guests will be three, plus a chef’s table in front of the pass and a lounge at the reception «but it will still seat 45 people».

This large space will be occupied by the tables for the guests of the new D'O. Though the new establishment will be around 900 square metres wide, it will still seat 45 people

This large space will be occupied by the tables for the guests of the new D'O. Though the new establishment will be around 900 square metres wide, it will still seat 45 people

So with so much space, every necessity is met, as with the refrigeration room for large bottles of champagne and Italian bubbles. And while there are only three refrigeration rooms, this is not a mistake but a choice: working with very fresh products as much as possible. The refrigeration rooms are in the basement, you walk in the dim light of the mobile phone and everything looks even larger. Yet even when almost in the dark, one can notice Davide’s obsessive attention to detail: «They’re essential. For instance, I only use a minimum mark up on wine, so there’s a turnover in the cellar. Waiting for the big sale is pointless, because you need to pay wages every month and it’s good for the drawer to be full. Truth is, it’s nice to act like poets but at the end of the month, those working for you want money, not poems».

For sure there’s been plenty of water under the bridge since 2003: «I took over after a family got fed up, by then they were only opening at lunchtime. I did what was necessary and opened. I remember I put a sign outside with the menu at 11.50 euros, and when lorries drove by the air was sucked and the board would fly away. So every day I would tie it to a nail with a string. One of the first mornings two bricklayers arrived and sat without noticing a different atmosphere. They ordered the basic menu: first course, cake, coffee and wine, a glass. I brought them a bottle, I got distracted and so they served themselves: half a bottle each, in one blow, in red wine balloon glasses you can hold almost all the content of a bottle. They asked for a second one».

From inside the building site of the new D'O, right where there will be the crystal door, the telephone’s lens pointed at sunset on Friday 15th April 2016 on the facade of the Chiesa Vecchia di San Pietro. The historic elm tree is in the middle of the square, between the restaurant and the place of worship

From inside the building site of the new D'O, right where there will be the crystal door, the telephone’s lens pointed at sunset on Friday 15th April 2016 on the facade of the Chiesa Vecchia di San Pietro. The historic elm tree is in the middle of the square, between the restaurant and the place of worship

Once the preview of the building site is over, à table. There’s a surprise in the menu: pasta. Could it be? Yes: Spaghetti alla chitarra, baby calamari, parsley and ‘nduja (plus black garlic). «It’s basically a novelty. The first week a man came at lunchtime and paid 11.50 euros then returned with his wife and two friends a couple of nights later. He enjoyed himself but when leaving he whispered: the pasta the other day was a bit overcooked. He was right. The space in the very first kitchen was so narrow we couldn’t make pasta on the moment so it was never al dente. I took it off. Come back now for I’m preparing the menu for the other place».

It’s almost ready: in a couple of weeks’ time reservations will be open and those asking for a table for two, four or six people will do so for a new place. There, with Davide, we’ll find the usual trustworthy faces: chefs Wladimiro Nava and Alessandro Procopio, director Davide Novarti, sommelier Manuele Pirovano, sous chefs Matteo Romano and Riccardo Merli. «Other guys are in France and London. Diego Ferrari for instance, who’s also from Cornaredo like me, is head chef at Gavroche. He arrived at D’O at 16 and left at 21». Oldani’s place is also about this.


Sections

Affari di Gola di Paolo Marchi

A mouth watering page, published every Sunday in Il Giornale from November 1999 to the autumn of 2010. Stories and personalities that continue to live in this website