Located in the north of Italy, just thirty miles from Milan and Lake Como, lies the city of Bergamo. With the foothills of the Alps acting as a picturesque backdrop, this city, which was named a world heritage site by UNESCO, boasts stunning piazzas, a gorgeous basilica, an imposing bell tower, a picturesque duomo, rich art galleries and museums and is also the birthplace of composer Donizetti. Split on two levels, the Lower City is a lively business center while the Upper City, surrounded by ancient Venetian walls, is lined with narrow cobblestone streets and offers visitors breathtaking views, boutique shops and characteristic cafes. Since 2016, Bergamo has also become the home of a restaurant which delights diners with contemporary renditions of some of Italy’s great traditional dishes in a space which seamlessly melds architecture both old and new into a location that is pure atmosphere. Ristorante Casual lies at the foot of an enchanting hillside ascent called San Vigilio in Bergamo’s Upper City. Inaugurated just last year, Casual is owned by Chef Enrico Bartolini who has earned himself several Michelin stars.
The atmosphere inside the restaurant is both classy and welcoming from the moment you step inside – a combination which both owner and architects purposely sought to create. The dining area is made up of two large dining rooms, a separate room for private events and a courtyard which is open during the warmer seasons. Casual’s windows fill up an entire wall so as to offer diners views of the cable cars which bring visitors up and down from the Lower and Upper cities. The striking look of the dining areas was achieved with the use of natural materials which serve as part of both the architecture and the décor of the restaurant. The entire space was designed by Marco Taurian for Tecnoarredamenti.
The lighting, by Bergamo based Catellani & Smith, creates an interplay of light and shadow which contributes to giving the rooms a feeling that is cozy yet alluring. Bartolini’s Contemporary Classic is brought to life with essential and minimalist lighting such as those in the collection Lederam which illuminate with tones of white and gold, the waterfall of sparkling droplets from the Jackie O, the warming floor lighting of Wa Wa, and the gigantic PK Led 100 which steals the scene with its gold leaf.
Casual is the brainchild of internationally known chef Enrico Bartolini considered one of Italy’s best young chefs, who has made his mark in the culinary world with his talent, passion, creativity and ambition. He earned his first Michelin star at just 29 years old, after perfecting his trade in Italy, France and England, and is now the owner of several restaurants in northern Italy from Milan to Venice. Bartolini handpicked his young resident chef for Casual, Cristopher Carraro, for his impressive talent, even writing, “I really wanted Carraro for his great talent notwithstanding his young age.” Casual’s maitre d’ is Marco Locatelli.
The restaurant’s à la carte menu offers diners exquisite choices such as red prawns in a citrus sauce, risotto with shrimp, walnuts and a lime emulsion, and a beef sirloin with vegetables and sauces. Besides the à la carte menu Casual also offers two tasting menus ranging from 50-100 euros: First Time in Italy which takes diners on a culinary tour with dishes like Piedmont beef tartar, Risotto with beetroot and gorgonzola cheese sauce, veal cheek with traditional meat sauce, and soft chocolate with hazelnut ice cream, or the other tasting menu Seas Around Italy with its five-course seafood menu. Casual also boasts a topnotch wine list which assures guests the perfect pairing to every meal in a location that exudes elegance and excellent cooking in the heart of beautiful Bergamo.