Andrea Villani and Redi Shijaku opened their first, small pizza takeaway shop in the far north of Milan in 2014. Within a few years they opened two pizzerias, one in Via Pisacane and one in Viale Monza, and then inaugurated, on last September, their third sign under the shadow of Citylife skyscrapers. The label says “Mani in Pasta“, a name more than ever right, because here the processing and quality of pizza dough are almost an obsession. After a phase of careful research and experimentation, the team finds its winning formula in the use of poolish, an indirect leavening method that allows to obtain a soft, aromatic and highly digestible dough. The pizza of Mani in Pasta is not crunchy like the Roman one, nor chewy like the Neapolitan one but, for those who need to cling to reassuring parameters, let’s say that it could be classified halfway between the two, remaining pleasantly light and fragrant.
The brand’s branches boast a wide choice with almost twenty pizzas on the menu, all inspired by the classic Italian tradition, albeit with some special proposals and a careful choice of seasonal ingredients from selected producers, but without ever flowing into the now inflated concept of “gourmet pizza”. There is also a very tasty 100% vegan proposal that has already conquered many omnivores, including myself; at the moment, it is topped with yellow “Piennolo” tomato sauce, eggplant, pumpkin flowers, dried tomatoes, olives and pistachio pesto, but the ingredients may change depending on the season. For those who don’t want to eat pizza, typical Italian dishes are also available at lunchtime, such as veal with tuna sauce and meatballs with tomato sauce, all strictly homemade: from fresh pasta to sauces and dessert, everything in the menu is entirely prepared in the kitchen.
About dessert: if at the end of the meal you’re still “craving for something good”, just know that at Mani in Pasta tiramisu arrives in a baking pan and is cut directly at the table, just like at grandma’s house. To pay homage to the Milanese rite par excellence, Mani in Pasta has recently inaugurated, from 18.00 to 20.00, an aperitif formula to accompany your soft drink with platters of excellent cheeses, fruits and seasonal preserves. And since the eye and atmosphere also want their part, and contribute to determine the experience, designs and furnishings of the group’s locations have been designed to convey the same feeling of home and familiarity that underlie the concept.
Materials such as dark wood, floors left rough when possible, the reassuring presence of cans of preserves and vegetables in oil, suggest an idea of warmth and timeless welcome that distance the restaurant’s appeal from the rampant aesthetic, fashionable and transient, distinguishing many Milanese locals today. If we add a young but prepared and attentive service, the (winning) recipe of Mani in Pasta is served!