Architect Fabio Fantolino understands that resurrecting a historic structure requires a thread-the-needle balance. “I found it challenging to enhance the personality of the space without disturbing its original soul,” says Fantolino of the abandoned printing house that would become Dash Kitchen, an upscale lounge-pub in Turin, Italy’s vibrant San Salvario district.
The space had plenty of soul, and even a skeleton; what it lacked was a body, so owner Massimo De Cristofaro turned to native son Fantolino to usher in its rebirth with the charge of preserving the past. “I saw a blank canvas, without limits and boundaries behind the little door facing the square,” says De Cristofaro. “I know Fantolino’s work and gave him complete freedom.”
A graduate of the prestigious architecture program at the Politecnico di Torino nearby, Fantolino knows the city, both its tumultuous history—a boom-and-bust cycle that saw companies like Fiat and Michelin come and go—and recent strides to embrace a post-industrial identity shaped by creatives. So when he was asked to stake Dash Kitchen’s place in Turin’s renaissance, he knew harnessing the city’s kinetic energy would be key. “The biggest and most known metropoles are important sources of inspiration for me,” he says. “Their designs evolve continuously, and everything changes quickly.”
The restaurant’s harmonious merger of an industrial aesthetic with sophisticated décor is reflected through all facets of this carefully executed dish, which pairs unlikely cooking methods and presentation styles to create a recipe worthy of any brutalist appetite.
The Mediterranean red shrimp are prepared using two equally complimentary cooking methods: steaming and frying. The former is a traditional method of preserving an authentic flavor, while the latter, a way of enhancing taste and texture. Hues of tender wild herbs evoke the supple velvets and Alcantara-upholstered furniture, while the beer-battered ochre coloring pays homage to the interior’s walnut finishes. This dish’s herbal ingredients balance the weight of the battered shrimp, just like the heavy architecture is offset by elegant design touches at Dash.
To avoid becoming a flash in the pan amid Turin’s frenetic landscape, Fantolino considered every surface and material when creating the design. While the original brutalist approach takes center stage across walls and columns, its rawness is contrasted with elegant black-and-white Rosso Levanto marble, which marks passage to the more intimate areas. He extends the juxtaposing themes by using chrome fixtures and unloading his entire pallet of furniture finishes, including assorted velvets and black leather in the Alcantara lounge chairs and sofas. In less adroit hands there’s a risk of it all coming off as a stylistic cacophony. In Fantolino’s, the result is something that, for him, approaches a complex sort of perfection, thanks to the equilibrium between brutalist aesthetics and refined reinterpretation of the ’70s.
While much of an architect’s work is destined to go unnoticed, Fantolino’s hope is that patrons who come for the beer-infused ceviches and carpaccios or to sample the extensive craft brew selection leave appreciating that every detail was thoughtfully considered, from the building’s history to the chef’s innovative thinking. After all, the fate of the restaurant’s soul rests on it. Fantolino and de Cristofaro hope to see that soul grow to become an old one.