“There where the grass was green now you have… the Ratanà‘”. It really must be said: behind the place where the Bosco di Gioia used to be, in the Isola area, everything has changed. This area has been transformed so much over the past ten years into a “little Town inside The Big City”. Tall buildings with vertical forests, restaurants and offices… Lots of new realities have risen but without overshadowing the intrinsic nature of the Isola: a popular area, with artisan laboratories and a lot of cultural activities.
The restaurant Ratanà has contributed a lot to the rebirth of this area, and since 2009, year in which it opened, it has become one of the most sought after restaurants of the city. It is on the ground floor of the building that houses the Fondazione Riccardo Catella (Riccardo Catella Foundation), just below the two residential towers called Bosco Verticale. A restructured liberty building, built at the end of the 19th century as a railway warehouse and used during the 20th century as a film set and contemporary art laboratory.
The name of the restaurant is inspired by the figure of Don Giuseppe Gervasini – called “el pret de Ratanà” – healing priest who lived during the first half of the 20th century right in the Isola, and it is said that he cured the sick using the herbs cultivated in his garden: argumentative and rough but always available for everyone.
The chef at the head of this “Metropolitan Oasis” is Cesare Battisti, one of the Ambassador-Chefs of the 2015 Expo, young and uber-Milanese, who leads a traditional milanese and lombard kitchen, reinterpreting plates according to his tastes and to a more contemporary form of restoration. His Milanese roots are expressed in many ways: at lunch a proposed business lunch (19€) is called “Schisce’ta”. You can get an aperitif every day between 18.30 and 20.30 with little tastes from the kitchen: “i rubitt”, term which in Milanese dialect means “precious little things”. There has never been a more spot on term. His risottos (he uses the highly esteemed Carnaroli of San Massimo Reserve) are so tasty, and many say they are among the best in the city; the mondeghili (traditional Lombard little meatballs, made from the leftovers of the broth meat, sausage and liver mortadella) so good they are addicting; a carefully selected wine card and curated by the curious and eccentric Federica, careful to offer a selection of organic/natural producers.
Oh, let’s not forget the possibility of having a discount on your bill if you happen to have a few of the requirements periodically determined by the owners: metropolitan cyclists (if you have your transportation with you); the ones who know the real story of the Pret de Ratanà; fly fishermen; dads who take a paternity leave after the birth of their child; and so on and so forth… what can we say, genius!
The lamps are very original and made from glass bottles and, from the same supplier, so are the pitchers and water glasses. The wall where you can place a post-it with your comments is a lot of fun… The bathroom is a real treat, newborn-friendly right down to the wraps (since becoming a mother, these are small details that score big points for restaurants!).
Outside the Ratanà, there is a beautiful public park where the children from the area but also the restaurant’s small guests can play. Recently a vegetable garden with fruit trees and plants was added just a few months ago: there are aromatic herbs, edible flowers, a variety of leafy greens, carrots and tubers. Every once in a while didactic lessons are also held for kids.
Very young and courteous staff, high quality of raw materials, (with seasonal products supplied by the innumerable farms that surround Milan), originality and extroversion characterize this enchanting place, which seems like it popped out of a cartoon… Have you seen Ratatouille?!