Run with passion and enthusiasm by the same family for almost fifty years, this historic Michelin-starred restaurant in Sondrio province not only provides uncompromising quality but is also fully committed to preserving its local environment, making it a more than worthy recipient of its Michelin green star in 2020.
The restaurant’s philosophy
According to chef Roberto Tonola, this recognition is the result of a wholehearted and long-term commitment in many different areas. Tonola tells us: “Our business is underpinned by a philosophy in which respect for our surroundings is a core value. We live in a beautiful area at the foot of the mountains, and we enjoy introducing our guests to the flavours of the Val Chiavenna through healthy, seasonal cuisine made from local ingredients which are easy to find and therefore always fresh”. The chef forages for wild herbs and mushrooms and many of the vegetables he uses are grown in the restaurant’s own kitchen garden: “Another feature of our restaurant which dates from our early days is our trout farm, while our dairy products and meat such as our Val Chiavenna pork are sourced directly from small local producers. In addition, we maximise the use of every ingredient in order to avoid any unnecessary waste”.
This young chef’s philosophy and his parents’ successful management of the restaurant are recognised by our inspectors in the Michelin Guide: “The Tonola family has been one of the province’s leading names in gourmet cuisine and friendly service for more than four decades. And it remains so today, thanks to the strong partnership between Roberto in the kitchen, where he skilfully prepares dishes with a modern twist, and his parents, who keep an attentive eye front of house, always providing guests with astute wine recommendations”.
Coffee – the perfect ally and one of the chef’s favourite ingredients!
The owners of this restaurant in the San Barnaba district are thrilled with their new green star and the extent to which this recognition has been appreciated by their guests: “We have received so many congratulations and seen an increase in new guests enjoying our “green” cuisine”, explains the chef, before going on to highlight the many virtues of coffee, which adds balance and flavour to his sweet and savoury recipes alike: “I am a great fan of coffee! I love its intensity, aroma, acidity and the fact that there are so many different varieties which can be combined with individual dishes or across a full tasting menu”. The countless ways of making coffee (in a Moka coffee pot, French press or cafetière, or Turkish style), combined with the high quality of the illy Arabica Selection, provide a sensorial journey across the best coffees from Ethiopia, Colombia, Brazil, Guatemala, India and Costa Rica, all of which contribute to the unique aromas of the illy blend. These varied flavours enrich the chef’s dishes in a whole host of imaginative ways. Tonola explains, for example, how he uses coffee to balance the flavour of game dishes: “I dilute the coffee in the sauce that I serve with the venison. The acidic aromas of coffee also help to maintain the fresh flavours of fish – I have marinated trout fillets in coffee with great success; the same can be said of my combination of coffee with sweet vegetables which inspired my beetroot, orange and coffee powder risotto. And as for desserts, the only limit here is the imagination – coffee works perfectly with ice cream, mousse, creams, dried and fresh fruit (especially bananas and persimmon), spices, chocolate and vanilla”.
The importance of sustainability for Lanterna Verde
The beautifully presented, authentic and flavoursome recipes created with plenty of imagination by the Tonola family come with a careful focus on ecological issues. As well as sourcing carefully selected local ingredients, Lanterna Verde pays very close attention to its use of energy: “Over the years, the structural work that we’ve undertaken has allowed us to optimise our spending and reduce our emissions. The most important of these projects was the construction of a hydro-electric plant which uses water from our trout farm, which enables us to be self-sufficient in energy. We then converted the entire kitchen to electric and invested in a pellet-fired heating plant which provides us with our heating and hot water”. As well as underpinning an impressive (and encouraging) business model in the long term, Lanterna Verde’s circular economy also demonstrates that a reduced environmental footprint need not have a negative financial impact – to the contrary, in fact, as it can make a restaurant more competitive as well as enhance the quality of its cuisine.
Hero image ©Roberto Tonola
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