Seasonal and Sustainable Fine Dining
An Ethical Philosophy Guides This Central Milan Rooftop Restaurant
With three-Michelin starred chef Norbert Niederkofler guiding the strategic direction for this fine dining restaurant, it is sure to set the bar high. It’s obvious to see that this contemporary Milanese restaurant is presenting a fine dining experience grounded in its ethics of sustainability.
Horto – located in central Milan – is wholly committed to operating a sustainable practise, all the whilst presenting diners with an unforgettable experience.
Executive Chef Alberto Toè also leads the menu development with his no-waste approach, maintaining traditions of modern Milanese dining. The menu here is contemporary, with experimentation and creativity from Toè envisioning and constructing unforgettable dishes.
A 5-course degustation menu is constructed by Toé – with wine pairing by sommelier Ilario Perrot – but it is also possible to dine à la carte. On the menu – changing with the best offering of seasonal produce – some Milanese classics remain such as the ‘Saffron risotto with grilled bone marrow’ and ‘Beef tagliata’. The simple ‘Vegetables’ dish presents the rhythm of nature in its offering, sharing the best of what is available in a very creative presentation by Toè. The chef doesn’t miss any details, he even uses waste for the finest areas of a dish, such as dried nettle and spinach base stems along with waste bread to make miso.
With an all-day menu, breakfast at the restaurant is also possible. Horto revisits the traditional Italian breakfast with freshly squeezed seasonal fruits and cafeteria classics, all the while using their finely-sourced ingredients.
Horto’s choice of partners – from cuisine to interiors – reflects their commitment to operating a sustainable practise. Continuing their ethical philosophy throughout their operations, the restaurant is closed on Sundays to offer employees personal and family time.
The restaurant’s co-founders Osvaldo Bosetti and Diego Panizza formulated the concept of the ethical hour, a philosophy that the restaurant commits to, by working with suppliers, farmers and produce all within an hour of the restaurant. Through this, seasonality and territory can be championed, all the whilst supporting local farmers and suppliers working ethically and reducing the restaurant’s carbon footprint. From the lake fish, specifically uncommon species as such as trout, crayfish, char, sturgeon and eel, to vegetable ingredients – they are all sourced no more than one hour from the centre of Milan.
Horto’s extensive list of small suppliers within the one hour area guide presents partners and farmers who have a long history of cultivating and promoting operations in harmony with nature. Chef Toè works directly with them, curating the best of what is available that day, week or month.
Local water is served – purified and filtered by bwt technology – to reduce bottle waste and carbon miles. Sommelier Perrot has curated a fine selection of wine made in the ethical hour zone, but it was the seasonal noon-alcoholic kombucha made in-house made from vegetable waste that blew us away. The red carrot kombucha – bright red! – was incredible.
Centrally located on the top floor The Medelan building complex, indoor and outdoor seating here provides views across the city and most specifically on parts of the iconic Duomo. Light-filled Horto is an oasis for diners where natural materials and natural tones present a haven for diners from the busy city centre below.
GLA (Genius Loci Architettura) have created the natural and neutral palette for the restaurant, creating a space with organically-curved arches and natural timbers, relaying the ethics of the restaurant in the design. The walls of the restaurant are covered with a rice plaster obtained by reusing the waste derived from the agricultural and industrial processing of the grain. The parquet, with a typical Milanese finish, is made from recycled wood derived from old vinegar factories.
The permanent art inside has been supplied by Palazzo Monti (led by curator and collector Edoardo Monti out of nearby Brescia). The artworks are all subtle in their presence, but present a unique experience upon each visit to restaurant.
Outside on the Horto rooftop terrace, the landscaping has been executed by architect and teacher Raffaella Colombo, creating a perennial garden to encourage biodiversity and, through a conscious choice of flora, creating a haven for pollinators (birds, bees and insects). With both golden grasses and various flowers, the scene is magical.
The word horto is Brazilian for ‘kitchen garden’, simply reflecting what the restaurant aims to be.
It achieves this in its own way as the kitchen garden of the region, an example of how a fine dining restaurant can operate respectfully toward the natural environment it relies on.
Via San Protaso, 5 (on the rooftop of The Medelan)
Text: Editor-in-Chief Monique Kawecki
Images: Champ Magazine©