For Milanese chef Cesare Battisti, protecting the tradition and legacy of the region’s risotto is something he takes very, very seriously. Rome-based reporter Silvia Marchetti investigates.
How many times have you had risotto? Chances are, it was a counterfeit. Because the one and only real risotto is made in Milan and the Milanese affectionately call it risotto alla milanese (cooked the Milanese-way) or risotto allo zafferano (cooked with saffron). In local dialect, it’s simply risott giad (aka ‘yellow rice’).
They’re all the same thing. Essentially, a plateful of locally grown rice cooked with a few key ingredients including saffron (the spice that gives it its distinctive yellow color) and veal or vegetable broth to help the flavors amalgamate and create a creamy, gold-colored risotto with a soft texture.
But watch out. Milan’s dining scene is facing a metamorphosis with thousands of fancy concoctions and twists. In order to taste the original recipe in all its glory, there’s only one place you should head to: Ratanà, the restaurant of chef Cesare Battisti. A chic 1800s Liberty-style villa overlooking a park, it used to be the lair of a shaman priest (who used the building to run a small tavern) back in the 1930s.