andrea marroni’s got game :: 10/10 :: €40 for tasting menu and wine
I was first introduced to Chef Andrea Marroni’s cooking at Barba, the hip cocktail bar with a small kitchen in Via San Gregorio. Upon news of Andrea starting a new project Dabass, in Porta Romana, it was my top priority to stop by before I left on my around the world travel in December and January.
Andrea’s focus at Barba was on using the best meat, fish and vegetables and legumes to make exquisite dishes. Andrea goes slightly against the grain in Italy, as he is a big proponent (like me) of sous-vide cooking to get the most flavor out of his ingredients. Sous-vide is still somewhat of a black sheep for Italian chefs, who often don’t sway to far from century long tradition. At Dabass, Andrea compliments sous-vide with a traditional gas stove top to tweak the best dishes from Italian tradition or to execute completely new and exciting dishes.
Dabass means "giù da basso" (downstairs) in Milanese dialect and is an ode to Andrea's grandmother, who lived downstairs. She inspired Andrea with her simple and friendly approach to cooking and hospitality, which is clearly evident at Dabass in Milano.
In Via Piacenza 13, Dabass is neighbor to the well-known The Spirit cocktail bar. The Art Deco-inspired interior at Dabass features a rectangular floor space with several small tables and a slick black and white tiled bar counter, where you can enjoy both well-crafted cocktails and Andrea’s celebrated cooking. The vibe is enhanced at Dabass by the small cushioned seating area outside. As you walk up to Dabass, you’ll often find Porta Romana hipsters milling around the entrance on a smoke break or enjoying an Old Fashioned cocktail.
I was very happy to see that Ilaria Bonato, a promising bartender from Padova, has joined forces with head bartender Robi Tardelli at Dabass. Ilaria, I promise to try your twist on the Tommy's next time I stop by!
The menu at Dabass is exactly how it should be, simple. The small single page lists only eight dishes, four of which are medium-sized dishes and part of the €30 tasting menu. You can also choose from four more substantial dishes from the “fuori carta” section, with prices ranging from 15€ to 18€. I was very impressed by the prices, but considerably more so by the quality of the food offerings at Dabass.
I of course went with the tasting menu, starting off with a Poached egg in a sauce of risotto alla Milanese with crispy bacon. This savory dish will dazzle your taste buds. It’s like an Eggs benedict on crack cocaine, thanks to the delicious saffron-based sauce and guanciale bacon. This is the best dish I’ve had this year. Chapeau Chef.
Next up, the mini pulled pork burger. There aren’t enough curse words in the English language to emphasize the amazing beauty and flavor of this sandwich. This is probably the best fucking pulled pork I’ve ever had.
Next up was Sardines in Saor, the well-known Venetian dish. Although a step down in terms of eye candy, it was delicious and worthy of its third position on the tasting menu. From there, it was a spicy and delicious chick pea minestra. I was happy because I was eating something healthy which also tasted great.
Just as I was about to salute the staff and head home, I was informed that the chef wanted to have me try one more thing, reminiscent of the product launches at the end of Steve Job’s key note addresses. I peered into the kitchen and saw that Andrea was busy working away at a risotto. I knew that I was in for something special.
The luscious white risotto was placed in front of me and my heart skipped a beat - the amazing aroma rising up from his beautifully al dente risotto was reminiscent of something quite familiar and pleasurable - Cacio e Pepe, which happens to be my favorite pasta in the world (check out my new blog “solo cacio e pepe” if you also suffer from this addiction). In Andrea’s risotto rendition of cacio e pepe, he adds lemon to give a better balance to the savory recipe. I’m not sure this dish is a regular on the ever-changing menu at Dabass but I highly encourage you to get on your hands and knees to beg Andrea to make it for you.
So that’s it – 5 dishes: 3 home runs, and 2 solid efforts. I can’t wait for my repeat visit to try Andrea’s other creations at Dabass. This is without a doubt, the best casual food experience in Milano.