Milan cooks up Restaurant InGalera

Milan’s Bollate jail opens top-class restaurant.

Prepared, cooked and served by prisoners, lunch or dinner in jail is a new experience for milanesi, and the first of its kind in Italy.

Inmates, with regular employment contract as a cooperative, are learning or refreshing their skills in the kitchen or in the dining hall under the guidance of experienced professionals.

Open to the public for lunch and dinner, the newly-opened Restaurant InGalera offers specialities from around the nation, but particularly from the northern regions, like rollé di salmone, petali di culatello, scaloppa di branzino in crosta verde, vellutata di zucca or gnocchetti di zucca.

Prices are in the middle range, to avoid taking short cuts with the ingredients. A full meal, from antipasto to sweet, might cost €35-40 a head.

Eleven inmates – seven with experience and four learning the skills – form a team under the guidance of Silvia Polleri, president of the cooperative and graduate of the prestigious Istituto Alberghiero Paolo Frisi, and appropriately-named chef Ivan Manzo, neither of them inmates.

The concept, explained city assessor Marco Granelli, is to help criminals who are serving a just punishment to leave the prison with a professional training under their belt and a possibility of a new life.”They will profit from it, and the city will have one citizen more and one criminal less,” he added.

Although Volterra jail in Tuscany has experimented with occasional gala dinners, cooked and served by inmates, this is the first time in Italy that a restaurant has been set up for full-time operation inside a prison.

Restaurant InGalera seats 50 guests. It is open to groups, children, vegans, celiac sufferers, guests with food allergies and the disabled – just let the receptionist know in advance. A kids’ menu is available. Booking is obligatory, with full contact, menu and location details on the restaurant website.