From art bistros to multi-starred restaurants: never before is it possible to have lunch and dinner with satisfaction inside the museum structures and foundations in Italy. Our selection
Forget plastic sandwiches and unlikely little bars. Today, with guilty delay, you can happily stop or end a visit to a large Italian museum to sit at a good, if not excellent table. Abroad, this is not news: for decades, museum site managers have made agreements with top chefs to set up catering at the height of the exhibitions. Because they know that today food is culture, makes fashion and attracts visitors. This explains the presence of starred chefs such as Josean Alja (Nerua al Guggenheim, Bilbao), Tony Mantuano (Third Floor at the Art Institute, Chicago), Abram Bissell (The Modern al Moma, New York), Garrett Kneown (Rex Whistler at the Tate Britain, London), the myth Alain Ducasse (Idam in the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha)
Haute cuisine and bistronomies
All protagonists of a very personal kitchen. Other places have thought of a different philosophy: in In Situ (al Moma, S. Francisco), the three-core Corey Lee replicates 80 signature dish – in rotation – of famous colleagues among which there are five Italians: Alajmo, Bottura, Camanini, Esposito and Romito. So far, the culinary summits. But in most of the museum sites, in Le Georges of the Center Pompidou in Paris as in the original Pharmacia in Lisbon, in the Acropolis in Athens as in The Hermitage Restaurant in S. Petersburg, in the Rijcks in Amsterdam as in El Mirador de Palau in Barcelona you do bistronomies: cured and at a high price (often not worth what is on the plate, it must be said). Often with a double vision: bar throughout the opening hours of the exhibition, kitchen for one or two services.
The premises of our selection are a guarantee: of tested brands, managed by good chefs (sometimes very good, just think of Enrico Bartolini) or by expert brigades. Where the cuisine is Italian or, at most, international to meet foreign visitors. Elegant, designer places and often in a great location. They don't necessarily seek author's cuisine: just think of the Caffè delle Arti at Gnam in Rome and Macro 138 of the Museum of Contemporary Art, also in the capital, which offer Mediterranean cuisine. Or at the landing in the National Cinema Museum of Turin where the long name – Eataly meets Caffè Vergnano at the Mole Antonelliana – invites you to taste the many good things of two important brands. Milan really likes the Lùbar, a Sicilian specialty bistro-bar inside Villa Reale which houses the Gallery of Modern Art. And decidedly spectacular is Bar Luce that lights the Prada Foundation: the director Wes Anderson designed it, inspired by the atmospheres of the Milanese cafés of the fifties and sixties. «It could be a great set, but also a beautiful place to write a script. I actually wanted to shape a place where I'd like to spend my afternoons when I'm not working, ”Anderson said at the presentation. And in fact, customers spend a lot of time between a refined sandwich and a perfect gin and tonic.
Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura – Florence
The Gucci Garden is the new multifunctional concept inside the Palazzo della Mercanzia, overlooking Piazza della Signoria: there is obviously a boutique with unique items, an exhibition space on two floors – probably with the most beautiful path in the world dedicated to a fashion brand – and the starred restaurant of Massimo Bottura, entrusted to Karima Lopez.
Meaning of Mart – Rovereto
His master Gualtiero Marchesi made him discover art, who would be happy to know that Alfio Ghezzi, from Trentino, manages the bar-bistro-restaurant inside the most famous museum in the region. Author cuisine, with great attention to the territory revisited with class. Alongside Senso there is also the Alfio Ghezzi Bistrot, with simpler dishes.
Space 7 – Turin
It is the restaurant on the first floor of the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation: the exhibition space of Patrizia Sandretto – one of the greatest Italian collectors – offers important exhibitions and also offers a bar-bistro with valid mixology on the ground floor. In the stove there is Alessandro Mecca, enfant du pays, who won the Michelin star two years ago.
Torre Restaurant – Milan
After the Luce Bar, the Prada Foundation has equipped itself with a restaurant on the sixth and seventh floors: it combines works of art, design furnishings, an incredible view of the city and a virtuous project of ethical and sustainable cuisine. The gastronomic proposal includes a menu inspired by the best regional traditions, while desserts range from the great classics.
Luce – Varese
It is a renowned place, inside Villa Panza, home of the homonymous collection and FAI well. Refined in the internal rooms – where the lighting is perfect, nomen omen – and fabulous when you open the dehors in the midst of greenery, well-kept. The chef is Matteo Pisciotta. A fundamental role is played by the products that come from the immense vegetable garden in the villa.
Giacomo Arengario – Milan
In the small empire created by the legendary Giacomo Bulleri, this is the most spectacular place ever: it is located on the top floor of the Museo del Novecento and was designed by Laura Sartori Rimini and Roberto Peregalli. A well-kept tribute to the period of art between wood, marble, mirrors with the fantastic outdoor area that allows (almost) to touch the Cathedral.
Colbert coffee – Rome
It is the restaurant and café above Piazza di Spagna, inside the beautiful sixteenth-century residence which houses temporary exhibitions and the Academie de France. The first restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, offers a simple menu of Roman and Italian cuisine in general. The second starts with breakfast and closes at sunset. The plus is the garden, as soon as it is enjoyable.
Dolce Stil Novo – Venaria Reale
Alfredo Russo's kitchen reflects the name of the sign: great respect for the past, but above all the pleasure of seeing him again in a modern, greedy, cheeky presentation. The environment is chic, with a summer terrace and a closed belvedere, hosted by one of the most beautiful palaces in Italy.
Caffè Fernanda – Milan
After the San Giorgio Cafè for the Cini Foundation, Filippo La Mantia doubles its presence in a museum, signing the restoration of the room inside the Pinacoteca di Brera. Dishes inspired by the art and history of the place, with products from social agriculture. And of course the Sicilian touch.
Myo Restaurant and Bistro – Prato
The spaces of the Centro Pecci host the two rooms of Elena Paci and Angiolo Barni, whose cuisine is based on the encounter between contemporary and Tuscan tradition. Myo Bistrot is an informal place, from breakfast to an aperitif. Myo Restaurant is more elegant and has a more 'serious' menu.
Enrico Bartolini Mudec – Milan
On the third floor is the high-class restaurant which brought the Three Michelin Stars back to town in October. The cuisine is therefore the best available inside a museum in Italy, with three great tasting menus: Be contemporary, Back to my origins, Fish and shellfish.
Triennale Terrace Osteria with a View – Milan
The restaurant on the large terrace is inside a transparent greenhouse surrounded by greenery, with a spectacular view of the Castello Sforzesco and the skyline of Milan. The cuisine – very Italian – is entrusted to the starred Stefano Cerveni of Due Colombe di Borgonato. And there is a good mixology.
Combal.Zero – Rivoli Torinese
The large castle 15 km from Turin has two pluses: the Museum of Contemporary Art and the elegant starred restaurant – with huge windows – by Davide Scabin, one of the pioneers of New Italian Cuisine. Impossible not to have fun, the routine is banned from the menu (and from pairing with dishes).
Voice – Milan
An innovative project in which food, culture and art intertwine inside the Gallerie d’Italia museum: it includes a café with bookshop, gourmet restaurant and cocktail bar signed by Aimo and Nadia, the historic Michelin steak. The menu winks at international customers.
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