Where to Eat in Italy Tradition and Elegance

Frades: The Family That Has Conquered Milan with Its "Modern Sardinian Cuisine"

Chiara Di Paola
copertina frades

Authentic Sardinian passion, from Porto Cervo to Milan: Frades is a family brand capable of blending tradition and modernity in the same project. Here's the format of the Milanese venue, just steps from the Duomo.

Not a brand, but a family story 

The Frades brand (in Sardinian dialect "fratelli" meaning brothers) was born in 2015 from the desire of three young Sardinians to introduce the authentic flavors of Sardinia and to export quality products, as well as the concept of hospitality and Sardinian cuisine throughout Europe and beyond.

frades team 2023 12 04 01 32 47

So, in their early twenties, brothers Fabio, Roberto, and Valerio Paddeu decided to combine their strengths and respective skills in business management, marketing, and catering. They leased a venue on the Promenade du Port (in the center of Porto Cervo, in the heart of the Costa Smeralda) to create a shop reminiscent of those they had known during their childhood in Orani, in the heart of Barbagia, in the province of Nuoro.

frades bottega

A space that, as still happens in small towns in Sardinia, would become a gathering place, where people could chat and exchange advice while delighting in high-quality local products carefully selected from small producers from every corner of the region (from shepherds to farmers).

frades culurgiones impasto

In 2017, after the success of the first venue, Frades La Terrazza was born, located in a charming spot overlooking Cala di Volpe, under the azure sky of the Costa Smeralda. Meanwhile, in 2020, Frades arrived in Milan, on Via Mazzini, just steps from the Duomo, with the desire to replicate the "kitchen with shop and lab" format already experimented in Porto Cervo, while giving the offering a more gourmet and contemporary touch, it is refined yet at the same time faithful to its origins, meaning it can tell the story of ingredients, traditions, values, and customs of a land and its inhabitants.

frades milano sala 2023 12 04 01 32 47

The result is a venue where the corner dedicated to tasting and purchasing the enogastronomic excellences of small producers from the island combines with the opportunity to taste an evolved version of these ingredients, showcased in a youthful reinterpretation of cuisine, no longer strictly "typical" but still "authentic."

frades team

Architecture and design, weaving material concreteness with symbolism. 

Frades' narrative, designed to engage an international clientele, begins with the atmosphere created in the Milanese venue, maintaining the original "kitchen with shop" format but updating and adapting it to the needs of a different market. The goal is to introduce the true Sardinian spirit to those who may have only experienced the more fashionable and folkloristic aspects of the island. The project, entrusted to architect Andrea Langhi, aims to recreate a welcoming and homely atmosphere inspired by the island's architecture. Arches punctuate the spaces, dividing them into interconnected yet separate rooms, providing the venue with spaciousness and openness without compromising the sense of intimacy and privacy.

frades estrni

The furnishings, entrusted to the image and communication studio KLS art&design in Oristano, break away from the stereotype that almost exclusively associates Sardinia with the maritime context. Instead, they aim to narrate the territory of the agricultural and pastoral hinterland, using neutral colors, natural materials, and deliberately "rough" coverings such as stone walls and floors, wooden tables, and “furnishing” inherited from the agricultural world (including a plate from a massive scale transformed into shelving to display products in the dedicated Shop area). Additionally, there are handwoven jute fabrics, tapestries, and hand-embroidered cushions (featured in the Fabric Room), as well as glass, iron, and refined light design, in perfect Milanese style, designed to compensate for the lack of a landscape that "native" Frades brands can boast.

frades milano bar

References to some of the symbols and pagan cults of Barbagia are not lacking: on the walls of the Mural Room, flowing lines chase each other, evoking and graphically interpreting the allegory of the Mother Goddess, enveloping and reassuring. In Frades, she is a constant presence, invoked from the logo and implicitly honored by Fabio, Roberto, and Valerio as a symbol of the value of the family that ties them to their origins, especially the important figure of their mother Titti, who supports the growth of their project.

sala dei murales frades milano

Finally, in the mise en place, a keen eye can discern the presence of objects rich in meaning, such as the "pattadesa" ("sa pattadesa," "sa resolza," or "sa leppa," in Italian "pattada" or "pattadese"), the quintessential Sardinian knife with an olive wood, ox horn, or buffalo horn handle, produced in the town of Pattada. Each one is not only a unique piece of local craftsmanship but also a symbol of cultural identity for the Sardinian people. Traditionally given on special occasions like weddings or birthdays, it represents a sign of esteem and respect towards the recipient, often from father to daughter.

frades milano sala arazzi ok

A new concept of “intense Sardinian cuisine”

Frades' offering ranges from the tasting of cured meats and cheeses on display to the more complex and structured dishes prepared by chef Roberto (born in 1991). After gaining experience in some of Italy's most prestigious establishments, Roberto brought back a wealth of experiences crucial to the success of the Frades enogastronomic concept. He manages everything related to the kitchen, from sourcing high-quality suppliers and raw materials to structuring the menu and creating individual dishes.

Roberto Paddeu Andrea Cherchi

Alongside him is his brother Valerio (born in 1997), a master salumiere and "artisan of pasta," and a brigade of young and predominantly Sardinian individuals who enthusiastically embrace the philosophy of Frades. They contribute with initiative to the project's growth, bringing in fresh ideas inspired by experiences that Chef Roberto encourages them to undertake during periods of less work commitment.

copertina frades

Frades' culinary offering is intense, authentic, but not strictly traditional. The typical ingredients and recipes of Sardinia are enhanced by the creativity of a modern approach, giving them a new look and making them "youthful" and suitable for various dining occasions. From the light lunch (a fixed-price option offering a selection of 2 dishes from the best of the seasonal à la carte menu) to the aperitivo (an essential in Milan) labeled "Entertainment," where you can savor some of the most authentic ingredients in an engaging format that nods to street food and encourages sharing.

rades milano entree focus

Among these are the "pane lentu" (the first-baked carasau bread) transformed into the shell of a shrimp and porcini taco, the lentisk (known as ollestincu, moddizzi, or Chessa in Sardinian - the most widespread shrub in the low Mediterranean scrub of Sardinia) used in the mayonnaise that enriches the mackerel sandwich, and the Poema (a goat cheese) served as an amuse-bouche and dressed with honey and truffle. The evening offering is more sophisticated, articulated in two tasting menus ("From the Sea" and "Our Land"), representing an excellent reinterpretation of the richness of Sardinian culinary tradition adapted to refined and curious palates.

rades sandwich di triglia con maionese di lentisco

Classic dishes with a modern twist 

Among the appetizers, the Roasted Artichoke with minced beef fillet, raw mustard, and veal jus stands out. Visually dominated by the vegetable element, the dish pleasantly surprises with the richness of a filling that claims the pastoral vocation of much of Sardinia. Moving on to the first courses, it is worth noting that even in Milan, Frades does not give up the tradition of fresh pasta (there is a lab where it is produced daily in-house, as is the case in their venues in Sardinia).

Frades Milano Culurgiones arrosto

The menu inevitably features Culurgiones, offered in three finger versions during the aperitivo (filled with potatoes and mint, blue sheep cheese and walnuts, eggplant, provolone, and thyme), roasted and accompanied by a Camone tomato gazpacho. In the à la carte menu, they can be found both in their most traditional form (boiled and dressed in a classic way with tomato and basil) and in a gourmet version, with white truffle and veal jus. 

frades culurgiones con tartufo

There's also handmade Fregula in a shellfish and shellfish soup, Tagliolini with clams and bottarga from Cabras, and Plin with IGP Sardinian lamb and saffron sauce from Sarule.

frades Malloreddus al ghisau di capretto caprino Mannalita e nocciole

Among the most iconic main courses, the red tuna (the symbol fish of Sardinia, served seared with porcini, Vernaccia, and Myrtle Teriyaki) and the traditional Suckling Pig (roasted suckling piglet) stand out, stripped of any folkloric clichés (nothing to do with the touristy "porceddu"!). The Suckling Pig is presented for what it essentially is: extremely tender meat that pairs well with a simple but intensely flavored side, such as the Sassarese-style baked eggplant known as "mirinzana in forru with agliu e pebaroni," baked with garlic and chili.

frades secondo piatto
frades secondo

To conclude on a sweet note, there's the Sevada di Orani with goat cheese (a fried dessert with an intense flavor tempered by honey) and the Sardinian Tiramisu with typical Fonni Savoiardone. These are complemented by more casual and easily enjoyed options like the All Chocolate, Almonds, Lemon, and Sage, and the Chocolate Mousse with Mango and Passion Fruit.

frades seadas
frades tutto cioccolato
frades tiramisardo Adriano mauri

No glass stands alone....but an island can find its place within a glass

The desire to creatively tell the Sardinian tradition is evident in the cocktails with distinct island characteristics, based on territorial spirits that accompany the aperitif. Among these are the Frades' Spritz (made with Bitteroma Rosso, Vermouth Sardo, and Akenta Extra Dry) and the Sardinian Bitter Orange (with Sardinian Bitter and fresh citrus juice). The local pairing continues at the table, where the guest, guided by the dining staff, can choose from a selection of craft beers and wines with a strong focus on Sardinia. There are 160 "island" labels, including the excellent Turriga, alongside prominent national labels and a good variety of champagnes.

frades americano balente

The final stop of a journey to continue 

"Tell us which area of Sardinia you'd like to visit, and we'll take care of organizing a tasty trip for you." This is the manifesto from which the Paddeu brothers commit themselves every day to tell a genuine story and create a connection with the guest. They welcome guests with a "tailor-made" offering, suitable for those seeking an informal occasion to taste Sardinian specialties or share dishes among friends, as well as for those wanting a more exclusive experience. This may include the chef engaging in a personalized show cooking and direct access to the wine cellar.

rades milano entree

Starting from this premise and the deep conviction of the Paddeu brothers that the younger generation can bring the deepest soul of Sardinia back to life and express its invaluable cultural and gastronomic heritage in ever-new ways, it is natural that the Frades project is destined to evolve. While maintaining the connection with the island and the original format launched in the flagship location in Porto Cervo, in Milan, the interaction with a discerning clientele in search of authentic flavors and unique experiences will drive the creation of ever-new sensory adventures, rich in nuances yet capable of evoking and capturing the essence of the land that is the lifeblood of Frades. In short, the journey has just begun, and it's worth being a part of it, without necessarily having to pack your bags!



Via G. Mazzini, 20 - Milan

Tel: +39 391 386 3232



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