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.
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.)
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
Images courtesy of Isa e Vane