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Joia, Milan

18 Via Panfilo Castaldi
Italy 20124
Tel: 39 02 295 22124's insider take:

Vegetarian restaurants are thin on the ground in Milan; gourmet vegetarian restaurants are a rarity anywhere. So hats off to Swiss-born chef Pietro Leeman, whose creative way with greenery—and some fish—places this elegant establishment a million miles away from your average Berkeley-style nuts and sprouts café. It's a shame that Leeman insists on extending his creativity to the menu descriptions, too: Dishes have baffling names like "Un sasso rotola" ("A stone is rolling"), a crispy sphere of zucchini, artichokes, and peas in a saffron and hearty mushroom broth; or "Prima a sinistra, poi a destra" ("First left, then right"), a goat ricotta, fava bean, and spicy tomato soup. We forgive Leeman, though, because it all smacks of enthusiasm rather than pretension, and because the food is so darn good. There's a Japanese vibe, with bamboo screens, white tablecloths, and potted palms in the long dining room, which suits the Zen aspect of the food. The prix fixe lunch is a relative bargain at around €35 ($45); dinner is pricier, with tasting menus starting around €65 ($84).

Open Mondays through Saturdays noon to 2:30 pm and 7:30 to 11:30 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.