In the heart of Brera, a traditionally contemporary restaurant that is the guardian of the best Milanese heritage and its atmospheres of the late 1800s, made up of gastronomic dandies, literary cafés and many "péché de gourmandise".
That subtle French allure has distinguished it since its foundation, 35 years ago. In fact, Stendhal was born from an idea by Italo Manca, one of the last Milanese “dandies”, who chose for the place the atmosphere of a fashionable brasserie and the name of a writer, pseudonym of Marie-Henri Beyle, who madly loved Milan so much so that he defined it as “beauté parfaite” and elected its renowned fried breaded veal cutlet as his favorite dish.
A historic place, in the 2000s it became the property of the Forti family and it was in 2019, with the arrival in the management of Marcello Forti, an entrepreneur in the hospitality sector, that Stendhal reinvented itself, “changing everything for everything to remain the same”, as it would say Giuseppe Tomasi of Lampedusa.
Magna, bef e tas s’at vo vivar in pas (eat, drink and remain silent if you want to live in peace)…Stendhal pays homage to the Milanese tradition, concealing a refined contemporaneity in the details.
While maintaining all the original charm of the place, with its characteristic green boiserie, marble Liberty tables and Thonet chairs, small contemporary details have been added, such as the mise en place with wild flowers that change every day and an amusing menu in which, alongside the “Untouchables“, the great classics of Milanese cuisine, appear more creative recipes such as the appetizer based on Italian wagyu bresaola.
Taking up the baton of Italo, the hosts are Vincenzo, during daytime, and Enrico, in the evening. If, in fact, lunch is more dedicated to an informal format, for dinner the Stendhal restaurant dresses up in great style.
In fact, Enrico loves to pamper his customers by telling anecdotes, suggesting the dishes of the day and, often, offering a small glass of Barbajada, a traditional Milanese dessert that very few people prepare by now, between one chat and another.
A point of reference for risottos and veal cutlet, Stendhal offers traditional Milanese recipes such as risotto al sauté with Silter fondue and the veal Milanese, which can also be served with truffle flakes, as well as a wide selection of contemporary Italian proposals that focus on the excellence of the raw material. Like the Andria burrata, spaghetti with clams and excellent fish tartares, accompanied by bread from Davide Longoni and focaccia from Fiordiponti.
A hymn to the Milanese spirit that also translates into the dehor. Overlooking Piazza San Marco, Marcello did not want to change the traditional Milanese “winter garden”, as his father Enrico loved it so much, so he simply enriched it with hundreds of lights, which made it the perfect lounge also for aperitifs and lunches with friends.
Among the furnishings, there are also refined personal touches. Like the collection on the walls of paintings by artists belonging to the futurist current, vintage advertising and original Bauhaus posters, as well as three beautiful portraits, dedicated to Vincenzo, Enrico, and Marcello’s father, created by the artist Sofia Manos.
The offer is completed by the great international and Lombard cocktails, served in combination with typical traditional appetizers, such as Mondeghili meatballs or stuffed courgette flowers.
Stendhal’s dandy soul and bon vivant spirit are today more alive than ever.
Marcello wanted to pay homage to some of the personalities to whom Milan owes its greatness. In addition to Stendhal, who sees “his” famous Zabaione on the menu, we also find Domenico Barbaja, who went down in history as “the prince of impresarios”, and his Barbajada, often offered to customers at the end of dinner. Born in Milan in 1778, he began his career in a Milanese café, where he invented this chocolate, coffee and cream-based dessert, and then made his fortune thanks to the gambling contract at the Teatro alla Scala, becoming one of the most famous impresarios of all time, manager of the success of great composers, from Rossini to Verdi.