Let’s start with the name. Joia (Joy). That in itself already makes you happy! And when you’re talking about vegetarian, the guru of this philosophy in Italy related to a starred kitchen is him: Pietro Leemann. Swiss by birth, multicultural by life experience and Milanese by adoption, he has toured the Orient, worked and taught in Japan, and began his Italian path working along side the Master Gualtiero Marchesi, before opening with other partners in 1989 the Joia: first and only starred restaurant (ref. Michelin Guide) with vegetarian food of the Italian restaurant industry.
Not long ago Pietro renewed the face of his kingdom: very minimal, warm colors, with furnishings that recall the sober design of Levante. This year it celebrates 25 years of activity and of absolute successes, reached with nothing short of hard work. His unique cuisine and maybe difficult to understand at first, almost introspective, can’t help but conquer those, who like us, cares about internal wellness. “A healthy diet as a philosophy of life”, this is exactly what he wants to communicate: through his restaurant, but also with his cooking courses, innumerable conventions and encounters with people, even in schools, to children.
His approach is to food is spiritual but also playful, and it must involve and inebriate all five senses of the body. “Colors, flavors and textures” is in fact the first symbolic plate of his operation. Plates that are therefore beautiful to look at but most importantly healthy for the body and mind. No meat and since 2009 not even fish. All natural. With a preference for unrefined grains, legumes, rice and cereals of various kinds.
Pietro and the Joia, his home, transmit serenity. In a city where everything runs and is chased after, entering this restaurant is almost therapeutic. You sit down and immediately you feel cuddled. Not just culinary cuddles, but the attitude, the warmth, the attention that Pietro and his staff (in technical terms, brigade) give to everything, make it so that you never feel out of place. The same attention that Pietro puts into listening to you to have your (modest and often ignorant, at least as far as I’m concerned) impression on the plates just tasted: for him is a listen and learn. From everything and everyone.
So his is natural cuisine, with extreme attention to the choice of the primary ingredients, obviously organic and from small producers, who are by now mostly his friends. In the hall the staff is guided by the Master Sommelier Antonio who, with discretion and rare competence, can transform the experience into something magical, with the help of the wine list, which is by now more and more characterized by the presence of producers, who work in an organic and/or biodynamic regime.
And for those who would like to begin understanding it little by little, with discretion, the Joia Kitchen Bistrot recently opened, with a different menu, more accessible, for the wallet too. A restaurant within the restaurant, ready to greet you with open arms!