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A toast to tofu

Almost heretically in a city known for its meat-loving traditions, this highly original restaurant prides itself on its inventive vegetarian haute cuisine.

Published on January 26, 2008



Vegetarian? Has Lombardy gone the way of California, where even a carpaccio has to be tofu-based?

Don't let your carnivorous reflexes keep you away from experiencing Chef Pietro Leeman's creative cooking. "I'm not here to preach" he says, "but to cook, and to give others pleasure."

Installed near the Piazza Della Repubblica, right in busy downtown, Joia has quickly become a hit with local foodies. The interior is pleasingly minimalist stylish, with dark-blond wood floors and abundant skylights, an atmosphere that suits the Leeman's sobriety quite well.

His style was heavily influenced by his long apprenticeship in Asia, during which he developed a subtle approach to flavours and consistencies. As he puts it, the Chinese have a different approach to taste: "a meal is a tongue-twister; the sequence of different consistencies in the mouth exalts them."

His inspired dishes will please vegetarian and omnivorous diners alike, as with the cucumber risotto or the thick, tasty mushroom and asparagus soup. Those badly in need of proteins can also opt for delicious, great-looking fish preparations.


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