I have to admit that I never go to Dergano, an historic neighborhood just out of the centre of Milan. It is an housing area so I have not really a reason to visit. However, since a year or so, Dergano is on my bucket-list for places to see in Milan. For different reasons I hadn’t made it yet, until a few weeks ago, on the first real hot Sunday of the summer of 2018, I finally went there. Now I promised myself I have to go back there more often and show others the beauty of this forgotten neighborhood.
Rob de Matt
Via Enrico Annibale Butti, 18 | Milano
To make reservation: 322.214.171.1242
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Price | Espresso and water 1€, beer from 4,50€, cocktail from €6,00, dishes (Sunday at lunch just two options) meat 15€, vegetarian 12€
During the past centuries one could find many industrial companies and their factories within the borders of the city of Milan. Until halfway the 20th century, many neighborhoods just outside the Spanish walls were dedicated to production, so full with factories and only some houses, just enough for the workers and their families. When the economy changed, these neighborhoods where liberated and often conversed in ‘sleeping quarters’, areas with mostly housing and just some services. During the transformation only some small structures remained, for the rest it is difficult to recognise the past of the area.
Dergano was also an industrial area where one could find (and still can) amongst others Mapei, producing adhesives and chemical products for the building industries, and also the factory of Luigi Zaini SpA, where still today delicious chocolates and sweets are made.
Amongst the houses constructed after the demolition of the industrial buildings, one can still find some factories. Some of them still function as intended upon construction, others are transformed and now open to the public. Like the building that hosts the association L’amico Charly and Rob de Matt.
Rob de Matt in Milanese dialect means literally ‘crazy things’, but in this case it might be more kind to translate it into ‘sounds incredible’. The choice for the name for this restaurant is not explained in any place, but I can imagine that they also want to refer to the social part of the project. In the restaurant some of the staff has a physical or social discomfort but demonstrated interest and ability for a better future so through a training course they will be inserted in the daily-staff of the restaurant. When I visited, I didn’t notice at all that people where ‘different’, which might mean that they have succeeded in bringing these guys to the next level and become even more capable than the staff you see in most bars and restaurants.
Actually I have only seen nice things at Rob de Matt. One can eat outside under the shade of a huge tent, or inside in a luminous space where even on a hot summer day one finds refreshment. They have a vegetable garden (unfortunately not accessible) in which they cultivate products the chef uses in the kitchen and the dishes they serve are really good and are honestly priced (I had grilled vegetables and meat). Often they organise events at Rob de Matt and they host small initiatives, like Bella Dentro, an ape from which they sell fruit and vegetables and at the same time fight food waste, because the products they sell don’t reply to the ‘standard’ so they can’t be sold at the normal stores.
Honestly I haven’t seen any ‘crazy’ things. The only thing I would go crazy for, is the place itself!
Thanks to Le Strade di Milano collega Simone for explaining the meaning of Rob de Matt 🙂
All images © 2018 Inge de Boer