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Isa e Vane

The new Milan cafe focuses on home-style cooking, quality produce and gluten-free treats

by Paolo Ferrarini in Food + Drink on 20 February 2014

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After years of being the go-to caterers in Milan, Isabella Coppini and Vanessa Pellizza Tricarico are familiar faces among the city's foodies. The pair and their delicious food can now be found at Isa e Vane, a cafe and deli they recently opened together. "I launched the catering company by myself in 2006," Isabella tells CH, "And Vanessa was my employee, but she was so good that I wanted her to be involved in the business, so she became my partner."

Everything at Isa e Vane, which takes its name from the owners' nicknames, is prepared fresh on site each and every day. The recipes are simple, featuring just a few quality ingredients and no artificial flavors. Suppliers are selected based on the quality of their produce, nothing else. "They’re not costly—they’re good!" Coppini says.

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The menu is limited so as to ensure the highest quality of in-season ingredients, and culinary fads mean nothing here. "Pink Himalayan salt does not interest us," Coppini, who oversees a kitchen staff of nearly twenty, says. "Does an ingredient add real value to the plate? Does it actually have a different taste? We never use an ingredient because it is fashionable.”

Similarly, the attention to raw materials is almost obsessive. "My idea was to propose a home-style cooking, with all raw materials and a constant presence of legumes," Coppini explains. "I was criticized for that choice—they wrote that it is a forced neo-pauperistic cuisine. Actually, I am from Puglia, and in my family you eat a lot of legumes, at least twice a week. Our cuisine is deeply tied to origins and with a southern touch—we use many vegetables and less meat. Every now and then we add an exotic dish, such as chicken curry. But because we love it.” There are also a number of gluten-free dishes, a choice inspired by Coppini's son who suffers from celiac disease. (A portion of the kitchen is dedicated only to the preparation of gluten-free fare.)

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As for the space itself, the light-filled cafe is a perfect spot to lose track of time. Formerly a mechanic shop, a beautiful diamond-patterned tile floor was revealed during restoration. The floor's white, red and black tiles became the design leitmotif that characterizes all the furnishings. "Everything here is part of a project, but in the end this place has a soul," Coppini says. "Maybe it will change, but for now we like it, even if the floor is a bit ruined and the walls already have some spots. In here, nothing is random, but you do not get the impression that everything is rehearsed.”

Isa e Vane is located at via Perugino, 1 20135, Milano

Images courtesy of Isa e Vane

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