Diego Rossi

The name of his restaurant might mean tripe, but Diego Rossi likes eating vegetables when he goes out. Contradictory? Perhaps, but sidestepping expectations is a trademark of this firebrand Italian chef. Born in Verona, Rossi is the cooking force behind Trippa, Milan’s “people’s trattoria” renowned for its democratic, produce-driven and affordable approach to feeding guests. When he’s not in the kitchen, this is where you’ll find Rossi eating and drinking.

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“We Need More Restaurants Like This”

Just over a year old, Nebbia was opened in the centre of Milan by three young friends: chefs Federico Fiore and Mattia Grilli, and sommelier Marco Marone. The trio worked in Michelin-starred restaurants including Le Chateaubriand in Paris before deciding to go out on their own. It’s casual, it’s informal and with its big, bright dining room, it reminds me more of a French bistro than a trattoria. The style might be French, but the food is Italian both in generosity and flavour. It makes me happy to see places like this open in Milan. We need less fine dining restaurants and more casual restaurants with skilled chefs in the kitchen. We have a lot of one Michelin-starred restaurants that are only okay: they’re nothing special. For me, this is understandable because to make an impact in the fine dining industry, you don’t need a chef, you need a genius. On the other hand, in a casual restaurant, cooking simple food with good ingredients, a chef can say a lot more.

Vegetables, As Nature Intended

The name of my restaurant is Trippa (meaning tripe), but I usually only eat vegetables, which is why I love Tipografia Alimentare. The menu is mostly vegetables, dishes are highly seasonal, and cooked and seasoned very simply. The produce is as natural and ethical as possible and this philosophy extends beyond the food to the wine and beer. The coffee is great, too. It has a hipster vibe including random vintage furniture but it’s not pretentious. The service is simple, and the people are very kind. You feel good when you are here.

Pumpkin at Tipografia Alimentare. Photography: Courtesy of Tipografia Alimentare

A Countryside Escape

My favourite restaurant is Trattoria del Gallo. It’s a very typical countryside trattoria only 20 minutes by car from the centre of Milan. This is where you can eat authentic and simple Lombardy cuisine like cotoletta [cutlet] and of course risotto alla Milanese: saffron risotto with bone marrow. Its wine cellar is as deep as its history – the restaurant dates back to 1870 – with old, hard-to-find bottles as well as natural wine. It’s beautiful in summer to sit outside in the garden and it’s cosy in the wintertime. It’s the kind of place you want to visit on Sunday for a long lunch with family.

Classic Italian Dishes

Rovello 18 is an old and charming restaurant with simple, classic Italian food. You might start with charcuterie or some sausage with polenta and then move to homemade pastas and grilled meat or fish. It’s like an osteria [tavern] only a little more chic. It’s old-school romance at its best.

Vitello Tonnato at Rovello 18. Photography: Courtesy of Rovello 18

Natural Wine And Solidarity

New natural wine bar and shop, E/N Enoteca Naturale is a very special place. The building – an old, abandoned school from the 1940s – is located in one of the most beautiful places in Milan: the pedestrian-only zone of Via Santa Corce and has a huge, lovely garden which is hard to find in the city centre. But it’s not only special because of its beauty: the bar promotes social inclusion of asylum seekers with traineeships, and sales support the not-for-profit organisation, Casa Emergency. The staff are all young and super passionate about natural wine. It’s a space that brings together people of all ages.

Learn About Italy’s Best Natural Winemakers

If you love natural wine like me, you must visit Vinoir, a relaxed enoteca near the canal. The owner Gianluca Ladu is one of the most important sommeliers in the city and was one of the very first to sell natural wine in Milan. He’s hardcore: very prepared, passionate and uncompromising. He only pours natural wine, and with each bottle there is a story. His storytelling is reason enough to visit, really. You can find great bottles from all over the world, but he’s very close to a lot of important winemakers in Italy so he also has lesser-known Italian wines that are a joy to discover.  

E/N Enoteca Naturale. Photography: Courtesy of E/N Enoteca Naturale

Taste The Cuisine Of Chongqing

Il Gusto Della Nebbia is different to other Chinese restaurants, which is why I love it. Young chef Wu Jun Xin, aka Lampo, is cooking the cuisine of Chongqing, his home city in the Sichuan region. So of course, Sichuan pepper has a strong presence on the menu. My favourite dishes are wheat noodles with yellow peas and pork belly ragout or with veal tendon.

Late-Night Snacks And Sake

After service, you’ll usually find me at Kanpai, a Japanese izakaya open until 2am. I love the vibe, the food and the owner is a good friend. It serves typical izakaya dishes: agedashi tofu, karaage chicken, okonomiyaki [cabbage pancake]. I always order the natto, a traditional dish of fermented soybeans. It’s super funky but I love it.

Japanese izakaya, Kanpai. Photography: Courtesy of Kanpai

Fine Dining That Breaks The Rule Books

Ristorante Il Portico, is different to any other restaurant in the world. Chef Paolo Lopriore is doing something very peculiar. Paolo’s crazy and mad but he is also a genius. He doesn’t give his guest a completed dish. Instead, various ingredients – all very particular to the local terroir – will arrive on the table. Like giving the guest colours to paint their own painting, they use these ingredients to compose their own dish. Boiled rice and fried artichoke might arrive on the table, perhaps next to bowls of sage butter and grated pecorino cheese. The restaurant is very close to Lake Como (a 40min drive from the centre of Milan) so you might receive sweet water fish and eel. Most chefs want to control your idea of flavour. Too much sometimes. But Paolo takes a step back. He gives you beautifully prepared ingredients and the freedom to play with flavours: to make it more bitter or sour. It’s very different to what we are used to as the guest, and of course some people don’t understand or accept the concept. It’s brave, of course. Paolo is definitely an inspiration for me. We know and respect each other, which is like a dream come true.

Drinking Cocktails In Style

For cocktails, I love to visit 1930. It’s a place in my heart. It’s a very special place for me. As you can probably guess from the name, everything is in the style of the 1930s. The music is always good – usually swing or live piano. It’s a secret speakeasy, with no website or online address. You first enter through a very ugly bar and then are brought to a door hidden in the back. In the summertime I love to go to Ceresio 7, a rooftop bar with a swimming pool. The bartender is one of the best in Italy: he’s very, very good. You can drink great cocktails with a beautiful view of Milan.

Come Say Ciao!

A real Italian trattoria has very typical characteristics. When you say, “I’m going to eat in a trattoria,” your imagination is towards an old place with a grandmother or aunt in the kitchen cooking big portions. The food is cheap. The atmosphere is loud. The service, quick and informal. But I felt that over the years, the trattoria was becoming a concept of the past. With Trippa, I wanted to bring the concept of the trattoria into today’s world. At Trippa, you will still find the signs of a traditional trattoria: the service is casual, the colours are warm – like our mustard-yellow walls – and the food is affordable. But in the service style and the kitchen, we try to bring it forward. There is a stronger focus on the ingredients. The menu is very seasonal. And we like to create new dishes using forgotten products.

Business partners Pietro Caroli and Diego Rossi of Trippa Trattoria. Photography: Courtesy of Trippa Trattoria

Selected Works: Finché c’è trippa… (2019)

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