I wasn’t always gung-ho about vitello tonnato until some creative takes on the menu at different restaurants in Milan changed my mind.
So, I have a confession to make: I don’t–or rather, now, didn’t–like vitello tonnato. This veal with tuna sauce preparation is just as Milanese as it is Piemontese as it shows up on many a menu across the Lombard capital. However, the sauce has a mayonnaise base, and if you know me, you know I have an aversion to the popular condiment and how I pretty much shudder every time I come across it. (You can imagine the visceral reaction I had to the scene in “Notting Hill” when Spike spoons mayonnaise directly out of a container and into his mouth. Anyhoo, I digress…)
Also known as “vitel tonné”, the dish consists of a round cut of veal (often the “girello”) that’s been boiled, sliced, and sauced. The dish is practically synonymous with the 1980s, and traditionally, it’s served cold. The tuna sauce also consists of anchovies while capers generally serve as the garnish. I adore these two ingredients, but when I see those delicate meat slices drowning in a murky opaque mayonnaise-based concoction, I just can’t get on board.
Or maybe I should say, I couldn’t–until Trippa opened. Diego Rossi’s vitello tonnato pretty much overnight became the most famous in Milan, a distiction it has maintained for four years and counting. His whipped creamy tuna sauce was the only version I could stomach. And recently, I’ve also noticed some other innovate takes on it as well in which the sauces, while they do have mayo, aren’t very mayonnaise-esque.
So here’s a look at Diego Rossi’s along with some versions from Cesare Battisti of Ratana and the one that Girls at work catering company are serving at Al Cortile through the end of the summer. I know there are others out there, too–I actually contacted a few establishments but, alas, they didn’t respond. I’m sure there are plenty of others out there, too, that I didn’t come across so do feel free to let me know of any notable vitello preparations that I’m missing.
Here is Diego Rossi’s Vitello Tonnato from Trippa in all its glory!
I dined at Ratanà my first time in Milan (January 2012) and have been back plenty as I just love it to pieces. Chef Cesare Battisti offers a brilliant contemporary take on La Cucina Milanese. His vitello tonnato, instead of tuna, features palamita, a sustainable fish from Salento, in the sauce. While it does have a mayonnaise base, it’s so beautifully presented that it doesn’t drown out the integrity of the dish and the ingredients. Go taste it!
The Girls@Work team, an all-female catering company, is cooking at Al Cortile (one of my favorite places in Milan!) through the end of the summer, and they offer a gorgeous twist on the classic: The meat is actually roast beef cut and served as a vitello tonnato with leek oil, sweet and sour scallions, puntarelle, extra virgin olive oil and tuna sauce made of the jus itself, capers and, of course, tuna. I didn’t ordered it, but I tried my friend’s, and I wish I had! Get there before the end of summer to try it.