There comes a time, mostly during the annual Design Week extravaganza, those considered 'Design restaurants' become more popular than ever. But what do we actually mean by that name? Design restaurants can be either food destinations born from a project of famous architects and designers who - despite apparently simple aesthetics - have left their distinctive mark, easy to recognise by design enthusiasts, or even restaurants whose interiors or furnishings follow a specific style, recall architectural trends from the past or the traditional elements from a specific culture.
To help those who wish to eat in design all-year-long find their share, we have rounded up a selection of the best design restaurants in Milan.
A map of these venues follows
1. Osteria Con Vista - panoramic glass experience
From the temple of design, Triennale Design Museum we would never expect a traditional, conservative restaurant. Osteria Con Vista does not deceive the expectations of design lovers, welcoming its guests in an uber-modern rooftop glass greenhouse set atop of the Palazzo della Triennale and overlooking Parco Sempione. The design is curated by Paolo Brescia and Tommaso Principi from Milanese architecture studio OBR and conjures up the elegance of bright steel and natural wood and the purity of glass filling the spaces with natural light. The cuisine is curated by Michelin starred chef Stefano Cerveni and is a tribute to the Italian tradition, featuring seasonal ingredients and creative pairings.
Those who wish to linger longer in the spaces of Triennale Design Museum without sitting at a restaurant can also enjoy a traditional pizza at the new Triennale Social Pizza, at the museum’s ground floor.
>> Read our article on Triennale Social Pizza
2. Soulgreen – nature and design
The concept behind Soulgreen Bistro is simple: combining top quality vegetarian and vegan-friendly options with a sustainable design created by architecture studio Controprogetto. The spaces are filled with natural light, which interacts with the apparently rough walls, natural wood tables enhanced by intarsia elements and beautifully adorned racks hanging from the ceiling and hosting lush vegetation compositions. Wrought iron, wood and green are elegantly intertwined by bright red furnishing adding a touch of colour, as for the beautiful and tasteful delicacies on the menu, which include pasta dishes, main courses, soups and freshly squeezed juices.
>> Check our article on Soulgreen
3. Risoelatte – style from the ’60s
Vintage is not enough to define the design of this cosy restaurant spread over three levels and located just steps away from Milan’s Stock Exchange. At Risoelatte it seems like you’ve just found yourself back in a traditional kitchen of the ’60s or into your mum’s or grandma’s house. While sitting amidst pale green and red Formica tables, an old fridge, an original jukebox and wood sideboards filled with porcelain tea cups you can savour some of the favourites from traditional Italian cuisine. The menu changes according to seasonal ingredients and includes different “riso e latte” recipes (rice and milk), both savoury and salty.
4. 403030 Healthy Kitchen – under Patricia Urquiola’s name
Located in the heart of Brera in the historical Palazzo Kiton, 403030 Healthy Kitchen restaurant and Bistrot was born out of an idea by Mariella Radici and features the distinctive design by Patricia Urquiola. Her very personal style, with simple geometrical lines and natural colours, can be seen in natural wood furnishing enhanced by elegant intarsia elements, grit walls and floors, in the use of marble and natural elements as a tribute to the city of Milan, all enhanced by suspended glass lighting systems. The culinary offer respects the principles of the Zone Diet featuring the right percentage of nutritional elements and is based on traditional Italian cuisine from the early morning until lunchtime.
>> Read our article on 403030 Healthy Kitchen
5. Lume – into the world of ceramic
Located in the Navigli district, Michelin starred restaurant Lume is nestled in the former spaces of ceramic factory Richard Ginori, whose style and stunning geometric lines serve as leitmotiv to the restaurant. “All white everything” we might say, as at Lume every architectural element, from the inner light walls to chairs, tables and outdoor furnishing is pure white. Monica Melotti, chief design officer of MB America pays tribute to light, combining the optical details with huge windows overlooking the inner curated garden (see the main picture). The cuisine is the brainchild of chef Luigi Taglienti and takes the ingredients of the traditional Italian cuisine to a higher level, thanks to contemporary pairings, cutting-edge cooking methods and unconventional flavours.
6. Filippo La Mantia – an elegant restaurant-lounge by Paolo Lissoni
With its soft lighting, designer sofas and vintage colourful armchairs evocative of the ’50s and ’60s, restaurant Filippo La Mantia look more like an elegant living room than a gourmet restaurant at first sight. Indeed, the space designed by Piero Lissoni and enhanced by distinctive elements by Virginia Casa hosts a cafeteria, a lounge, a patio, a cocktail bar and an exclusive restaurant by chef Filippo La Mantia. The menu features the best of Sicilian cuisine, ranging from street food options such as “arancini” and “panelle” up to meat and fish delicacies, as well as the signature “caponata” with pistachio from Bronte.
7. Replay The Stage – yatch-style dining
Designed to create a continuum with the nearby store of denim brand Replay, The Stage is nothing but a traditional restaurant. Its interiors are all made of warm, almost reddish wood intertwined with pure white leather sofas that help create the illusion of being aboard a luxury yacht. Architecture studio Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors designed the spaces in order to provide guests with an experience covering different senses, from taste, starting from cocktail bar Octavius to sight, thanks to the panoramic view over Piazza Gae Aulenti. The menu spans from traditional Italian delicacies, like the Milanese yellow saffron risotto up to raw fish specialities paired with precious wine labels or freshly made cocktails.
8. Thai Gallery – a corner of Thailand in Milan
Design and Orient lovers can find their place to be at Thai Gallery, a haven of taste for cuisine from faraway Thailand. A bit of an art gallery, thanks to creative paintings on the walls and of a traditional Thai house filled with bright contrasting colours, the ambience is unconventional and trendy. Amidst statues of the Buddha, plant recalling a tropical forest, cushions with colourful patterns and oriental aromas, guests can savour a selection of the best Thai cuisine spanning from Pad Thai to yellow Massaman fish or meat curries, as well as local desserts prepared by expert chef Suchat Suajamsin.