“I’ll make a confession: Here, I would have liked to do only and exclusively vegetable cuisine. But then I had to mediate and so I immediately included, as an appetizer, a Grand Tour of Vegetables. In honor of the place we are in, dreaming of Goethe’s grand tour in the present day”: this is how Gennaro Esposito talks about the gastronomic philosophy that led to the Caruso New, in the center of the Milanese fashion district. The Grand Tour of Vegetables is an important business card, a very precise imprint that guides the guest to a series of proposals that also belong to traditional cuisine, such as pasta and potatoes or spaghetti with Vesuvius tomatoes selected by Gennaro Esposito (unforgettable ). Esposito has been designing the cuisine of Caruso Nuovo at the Grand Hotel et de Milan for a few months, and has climbed with his feet firmly on the vegetal wave that runs through Milanese restaurants.

Gennaro Esposito’s spaghetti

Inclusive non-divisive cuisine, where even those who have made precise choices in their diet can experience and share the pleasure of the table with others. Not only in places for important and unique occasions, but also in those where the proposal is more informal, one can – also – eat plant-based: that is, it is possible for vegetarians and vegans to have a significant tasting experience, without being obliged to having to choose from the side dishes menu or spaghetti with tomato sauce from the children’s menu. In unsuspected places like Market Steak and Burgers, in addition to fine cuts of meat, the vegetable offering has expanded with pumpkin in three versions, ratte potatoes (fried and then grilled) but also polenta concia and cardoncelli. Or to Finger’s Garden, Roberto Okabe has put plant based skewers (very good) on the robatayaki menu. On paper al Dry Milan, among cubes, stuffed focaccias and pizzas there is always the vegetable alternative. Chef Lorenzo Sirabella’s pizza, Orto Vegetale (with escarole cream, purple cabbage cream, orange carrot cream, rocket pesto, Jerusalem artichoke chips, pomegranate, Romanesco broccoli) is as beautiful as a painting.

Milan is increasingly vegetal, you can also see it in the new openings. Still in the centre, alongside the Cadorna season, it has been in Via San Nicolao since December Nobuya, the new restaurant designed by chef Niimori Nobuya, with the Chinese entrepreneur Andrea Lin. The menu offers a wide choice of vegetarian dishes, enough to compose an eight-course omakase menu in which Japanese techniques and traditions are combined with typically Mediterranean ingredients, such as turnip greens, broccoli or red radicchio. Thanks to the collaboration with Planet Farms, there are several varieties of native Japanese seeds on the plate. Nine specialties brought by Nobuya, such as shiso leaves, gobo – burdock root, a vegetable popular in Japan but unobtainable in Italy. But also special varieties of corn, daikon, edamame, muzuna – a typical Japanese salad with long, green leaves. “This is my idea of ​​cooking – says Nobuya -: a tailor-made menu tailored to the customer, to what he wants to taste, discover. The vegetarian part can also become vegan, there are no problems making changes on the spot. Even in the dessert menu. It is an idea of ​​Japanese cuisine that adapts perfectly to the times we live in which there is maximum respect for the ingredients. Whether meat, fish or vegetables, everything is of great importance and everything must be valorised.” . Try the cabagge roll: cabbage roll, mushroom meatloaf, tuff, ground soya, toasted almonds.

Niimori Nobuya

Returning to the Montenapoleone area insteadnear Caruso Nuovo, on via Manzoni, atArmani Restaurant, executive chef Francesco Mascheroni has several exclusively vegetable dishes on the menu. In the past there was also a really satisfying tasting route called Terra. In the à la carte menu, the beetroot remained from this path paired with Shropshire blue cheese (with salted pistachio, puffed spelled, raspberry, chervil). And among the second courses, Jerusalem artichoke with aji amarillo (Peruvian chili pepper), fermented kohlrabi, pumpkin seeds and toasted hazelnuts. “A few small adjustments are enough – said chef Mascheroni” to make vegetable cuisine more interesting. Just push a little on the vegetables, create new combinations, discover the versatility of the vegetables on the plate.”

However, it does not have a specific menu on vegetables Daniel Canzian, Venetian Haute Cuisine and Contemporary Italian Cuisine, in the San Marco area, Brera. Because he thinks it’s not necessary. He doesn’t like distinctions. So here, vegetables have been present since the beginning, since ten years ago he opened his restaurant in via Castelfidardo, on the corner of San Marco (I recommend eating at the chef’s table so as not to miss the magic of the cuisine, ed.). “One of the first dishes I brought here – explains the chef – is minestrone. Made in my way though. It is a contemporary minestrone, where the vegetables are sautéed in a pan and then the broth, a tomato-flavoured water, is poured into the moment. Then there are many dishes that are based on vegetables, 50-60 percent of traditional Italian cuisine is like this.” On the menu there is risotto creamed with hazelnut butter, combined with tacks made in a casserole. It’s like tasting the woods.

A dish by Daniele Canzian

Andrea Berton on the other hand is always ready to include a vegetable tasting proposal, and until recently there was also a specific menu. “I believe that vegetables are very important in the kitchen both because they give the opportunity to make healthier dishes and because they allow you to create very attractive preparations – explains the chef -, setting in motion a creativity that perhaps with products such as meat or fish does not express itself in the same way. We therefore decided to pay particular attention to the vegetable element not only to accommodate the ever-increasing demand for vegetarian dishes, but also to help people discover the versatility and delicate flavors of vegetable cuisine. Despite their simplicity, the proposals lend themselves to elegant combinations and manage to satisfy the tastes and needs of all our customers, not just those who don’t eat meat.” At the Berton Restaurant, in via Mike Buongiorno, the totally vegetable amuse bouche has tomato meringue, pumpkin and coffee tartlet, crunchy spinach leaf and lemon and champignon tartlet. And then the broths: porcini broth (grilled porcini mushrooms, chard and mountain pine) and rhubarb broth (rhubarb and raspberry).

It has a very structured vegetal proposal and decidedly captivating Zelo, the restaurant of Four Seasons Hotel Milan (via Gesù). The executive chef is Fabrizio Borraccino who explains how a vegan menu has also been on the menu for 5 years now, to respond to customer requests. Immediately recommended for the tasting of vegan cheeses: almond ricotta, cashew goat’s cheese. The first has a tofu ragù and cashew crumble. The crispy cutlet is made of tempeh, pumpkin, chicory and mushrooms. The final dessert by pastry chef Daniele Bonzi closes the matter perfectly: Zucca e Nocciole (sweet and sour pumpkin with dark chocolate ganache and hazelnut ice cream).