On the three floors of Il Mercato del Duomo (the Duomo Market), you will find yourself on a journey through the tastes and flavors of Italy. Designed by architect Michele De Lucchi and first opened in May, this new concept store in the center of Milan uses the secrets of Italian culinary tradition to take you on a trip from the basic ingredients to a fully prepared meal. The entrance is under the Piazza Duomo portico, at the corner of the Vittorio Emanuele Gallery. An enormous olive tree suspended in midair invites you in, and as you ride on the transparent escalator you get closer to the old walls of the building, where huge screens shaped like smartphones give a taste of what’s to come.
On the first floor, there is an actual market with a series of food stalls. Its windows offer a marvelous view of the Gallery’s bas-relief. As you peruse the stalls, you discover just how delicious Italy is. Taste the bread from the Grazioli bakery, made exclusively from stone-ground wholemeal flour and yeast produced by the bakery itself. Or sample Marco d’Oggiono’s salamis, naturally dried in the Brianza area, just like they used to do. And why not try the Boscasso goat’s cheeses from the Appenine foothills near Pavia, or the dishes prepared by the Falcone Delicatessen in Cuneo, like the white chicken salad or the Piedmontese beef stewed in Barolo? The producers are all here, so you allow them tell their stories and guide you through their produce as you taste it.
The food on sale on the first floor includes the ingredients for the dishes prepared in the bistro on the second floor. Take a seat at one of the long wooden tables and take in the welcoming, social atmosphere. Blackboards around the room give you an idea of what to eat, before you order at one of the three counters: Pastaio for pasta, rice, and soups, Cucina di Strada for meat or fish dishes prepared in front of you, or Wine Bar for salads and cold cuts. Then order yourself dessert and something to drink. Antipastos come in at around €3, pasta dishes will set you back €6, and an entree with side is around €15.
If you want to take your time, rather than grabbing something quick at the bistro, head upstairs to the Spazio, the restaurant run by the pupils of three-star Michelin chef Niko Romito from Abbruzzo. Look through the glass partitions to see how the young chefs prepare their meals, rolling out dough, dressing plates, and so on. The restaurant is run on a number of set principles: The cost is within anyone’s reach at €14 for a pasta dish and €17 for an entree, the menu follows the seasons, and there is a constant dialogue between chef and diner. Walking from the kitchen area to the dining area, Romito’s pupils will tell you all about their creations, the ingredients, and their methods. And, just a few steps further and you’re in Bollicine, the food and wine bar run by Berlucchi. This is where the Franciacorta label meets the delicacies from the market with exquisite results. And if you’re lucky enough to bump into the sommelier, Daniela, she might tell you how the aristocrat Berlucchi discovered the secret of Champagne bubbles on one of his trips to France in 1961.
The Mercato del Duomo leaves you with the sensation that you have not only tasted, but also learned, something special. The market is open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Spazio is open from 12:30 to 3:30 in the afternoon, and again from 7:30 to 10:30 in the evening.