Art and food are often referred to as Italy’s most treasured assets, which is particularly true for Voce, a new restaurant on Milan’s Piazza della Scala that is part of the Gallerie d’Italia exhibition space.
From dawn till dusk, visitors will have a new place to relax, sip a glass of Italian wine and enjoy a light lunch or a premium dinner in the space created in partnership with the owners of Michelin-starred restaurant Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia.
“It’s the completion of a process, which makes the Gallerie d’Italia the right place to showcase the [Intesa Sanpaolo] bank’s artistic patrimony at its best. It’s certainly not an easy ‘task’ to be the cafeteria to a gallery and we tried to find the right partner, someone who shared our vision, our culture,” says Michele Coppola, general director of arts, culture and historic goods of the Intesa Sanpaolo bank, which owns the exhibition space and its collection, a set of artworks that spans from the Renaissance to the 19th century.
Covering around 4,843 square feet, the space can be accessed from the square and from the gallery and is divided into three areas, including a café for breakfast, aperitivo and light lunches; a premium restaurant behind swinging doors, which features an open kitchen, and a bookshop with small tables and chairs that have a vintage feel to them.
Designed by the bank’s go-to architect Michele De Lucchi, the space pays homage to each of the three buildings occupied by the Gallerie d’Italia complex. The architect employed a light-hued durmast wood for the wainscoting and bookcases covering the dark gray painted walls. Large panels of dark Marquina marble cover the main counter in the café space, which is peppered with red and black touches, courtesy of boxes and pottery arranged haphazardly on the shelves.
“My aim was to create a space referencing each of the atmospheres associated with the gallery,” says De Lucchi, noting the complex occupies three historical buildings, including the 1720 Palazzo Brentani; Palazzo Anguissola Antona Traversi, which was built in the 19th century, and the former Italian Commercial Bank, designed by Luca Beltrami, the architect who reconfigured the Piazza della Scala as it appears today.
The tall plastered ceilings, the wide wrought-iron windows by Beltrami and the light Botticino marble flooring help lighten the space, which De Lucchi describes as the “perfect blend between a Viennese café and a French bistro.”
“Voce is a place of art and culture and food. It has always been my aim to match the food culture with the arts because they both bring an incredible richness to the table,” says Stefania Moroni, the daughter of Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia founders and chief executive officer of the company. “We had a list of around 50 names to choose from and when we reached the 12th — which was Voce [Italian for voice] — we knew immediately it had its own voice,” she adds with a pun.
The company, which includes the first restaurant founded by her parents in Milan in 1962 and a second outpost called BistRo unveiled in June in partnership with gallery owner Rossana Orlandi — is helmed by Moroni, along with executive chefs and business partners Fabio Pisani and Alessandro Negrini.
The goal for the café and the restaurant is to offer Italian traditional dishes twisted with unconventional touches and employing seasonal, fresh raw materials from the territory. Negrini says their aim is to explore a “solved complexity,” as well as to reintroduce cold dishes, which “have gone out of fashion.”
The restaurant, which features granite columns discovered during the restoration and which De Lucchi decided to keep and highlight as decorative elements, will offer different menus for lunch and dinner. They include a tasting menu, a children’s menu and one paying homage to the artworks and paintings displayed in the gallery. To wit, the executive chefs will create dedicated menus for the restaurant trying to interpret the gallery’s temporary exhibitions. The current display, called “Romanticism,” will inform the first menu until next March.