In the past few years, Porta Ticinese area has evolved at a frantic pace: if you walk through the neighborhood streets at a six months distance, you are likely to feel lost, because of the crazy speed bars come and go. Then there are places like Valà, that are here to stay. This bistrot comes from an idea of Valentina and Laura, who have been living in the area for a couple of years, even if Valentina is from Modena and Laura from Palermo. They had the idea at home, after another lunch or dinner they had prepared for their friends. Indeed, when they opened the bistrot the number of friends multiplied and it became a second home for many.
A lucky break helped Valentina find the good place, after a lot of searching around Milan. She found it in her neighborhood, and it was empty – just like she wanted. It was a golden chance to build their own world anew, so much that they even created the “Valà color”. Her friends knew that she would have applied to her restaurant the taste with which she decorated her home: “Every detail, here, has been “stolen” from my place or wandering around markets in Modena to look for stuff that would make our Valà nice and cosy.”
The same goes for the kitchen. Laura is from Palermo, so there’s always some element of the Sicilian cuisine showing up, sometimes revised in a contemporary guise, such as the Aeolian seitan, one of the many vegan choices on the menu. The dishes vary according to the season, even if some of them are fixed, such as the “crescentine” – small round bread typical from Modena – without any doubt one of Valà’s symbols. The other must-have for the aficionados is the ve-burger, a completely vegan burger (warmly suggested to omnivores who are not afraid to try something new) and the clam fregola, Laura’s favorite dish – as well as many customers’.
Laura treasured what she learnt in many important restaurants, but she has never stopped cooking like she did for her friends. This means that her dishes are simple, very much cared for, and affordable. “Probably because I’m from the South, I’m not used to spend a lot on food and I’ve always wanted my dishes to be tasty but affordable. That’s the combination that makes you want to come back.”
Today Valà counts ten employees, who are not simply Vale and Laura’s colleagues, but friends. It plays a huge part in the relaxed and informal atmosphere that makes this place familiar even for those who come for the first time. “This neighborhood is like a small city inside the city, we like the feeling of knowing everyone, to call everyone by name: people working here, living here, stepping by… As soon as you come in here you become our friend.” A lot of people get to know each other here, become friends and then come back together. Usually once you try Valà you want to come back – this is a great satisfaction.”
5 places suggested by Valà:
LA COLONIALE: we like it because it’s a pure and simple winery, where the old people of the neighborhood go. They don’t have the typical aperitivo buffet, you are lucky to have a couple of bruschetta and olives. But the wine quality is excellent, and the bar itself is a gem.
IL BANCO: if we had to choose a bar in the Navigli area, this would be the one. The cocktails are incredible and the atmosphere is calm and reserved: there’s a familiar dimension that we love.
FRIZZI&LAZZI: the ideal place for a summer beer. This is one of those places that we hope will never change.
RAPONI TESSUTI: For those who love furniture and fabric like we do, checking out the billions of offcuts in this place is a dream.
MERCATINO QUINTOSOLE: this place in via Ripamonti area is incredible. It started off as a paper factory, but now you can find any kind of objects. It’s a pleasurable source of inspiration.