Milan has always been a city of sophisticated sensibilities, where a rich history provides a backdrop for urban savvy, and timeless style intersects with innovation.
The worlds of finance, art, fashion, and design have long called this city home, thriving in an atmosphere that both respects tradition and encourages experimentation. This is a city of quality craftsmanship, genuine talent and exacting standards. It was in such city that, in 1936, two pastry chefs joined forces to open café just steps from Teatro La Scala, the legendary opera house. Inspired by the story of the fourth century’s Saint Ambrogio — the patron saint of Milan — the team gave their pasticceria and confetteria the Milanese dialect version of his name. With this, Sant Ambroeus was born, and a devoted following soon emerged. It didn’t take long for the vibrant, welcoming café to become the meeting place for the local intelligentsia, who would begin their day with Sant Ambroeus’ perfectly-crafted cappuccino and sweet cornetto, pop in for lunch to savor a crusty panini, and spend their evening enjoying classic favorites in the restaurant’s elegant dining room.
The second half of the 20th century saw the brand both flourish at home, and expand across the Atlantic.
In 1982, the first Manhattan location of Sant Ambroeus arrived on Madison Avenue, opening its doors to a new crop of locals and international visitors.
From Italy, with love
Guests of Manhattan’s first Sant Ambroeus location quickly became regulars, gathering each morning to savor a cappuccino or espresso crafted with an exacting devotion to tradition. For meals, the denizens of the Upper East Side collected under glittering chandeliers to savor authentic, time-honored recipes and homemade sweets.
It wasn’t long before a new generation was discovering firsthand, the memorable draws and delectable flavors of this Italian Icon. Sant Ambroeus soon grew beyond Madison Avenue, spreading its signature sensibility.
Today, New York diners can choose between five locations in Manhattan—in thriving neighborhoods like the West Village, Soho, and the Upper East Side—as well as an outpost in the seaside community of Southampton.
Sant Ambroeus has remained true to Milanese origins—and to the flavors, atmosphere, and standout service of that first location. Each outpost boasts a unique character and design: a nod to ’60s and ’70s Italy here, Etro textiles or Le Corbusier prints there, with perhaps an oversized Clifford Ross photo adding a contrast in minimalism.
Throughout, the soul is always the same: quality, craftsmanship, and the feeling of being among friends. Depending on the location, those friends may include a mix of artists, tastemakers, fashion editors, and writers, many of whom claim to do their best thinking over a vitello tonnato or a perfectly made cappuccino.
In the fall of 2016, Sant Ambroeus Palm Beach opened its doors to a new community, bringing a touch of old-world Milan—via contemporary Manhattan—to sunny Florida.
In the cafes and trattorias of Italy, time often stands still. Meals are savored, not rushed; drinks are sipped, then refilled; and conversation flows between each course. Inside, there are no commitments, no deadlines, no waiters rushing you to turn over the table. These are sacred spaces that celebrate the important connection between food, friends, and family.
This old-world emphasis on savoring each moment is at the heart of every Sant Ambroeus location. For culinary director, Iacopo Falai, this timeless sensibility helped him fall in love with the restaurants. “The first time I walked into Sant Ambroeus in the West Village, I saw a copy of the Corriere Della Sera newspaper, the cornetti, guests eating panini, pasta and veal Milanese… and I felt a great energy around me. I knew that I had found a place in New York where I could go and feel at home”. Falai also credits Sant Ambroeus’ dedication to quality and the authenticity of its Milanese cuisine.
“When I tasted the food, I was transported immediately to Italy, to Milan, to a place where simplicity is key”. Simplicity, however, requires attention to detail, and this dedication is obvious in all elements of the Sant Ambroeus brand. Ingredients are chosen with care, passion and curiosity, and used with respect, patience, and technique. Falai’s philosophy is simple: “La buona cucina è alla base del buonumore e genuina felicità.” Good food is the base of good spirits and happiness.
Falai has been the culinary director of Sant Ambroeus for several years, and still feels that enthusiasm he experienced on his first visit. “It gives me an immense joy.” he says of working with the brand. “It’s like being part of a family.” And at Sant Ambroeus, he continues, “We stand by old ideals in a new world. We converse and eat as we do in Italy, but we plan and work as they do in New York. La semplicità è italiana.”
La Storia di Sant Ambroeus
Sant Ambroeus is the name, in Milanese dialect, of Sant’Ambrogio, the patron saint of Milan.
Born in 334 A.D., Ambrogio, a local governor and lawyer, was appointed bishop of Milan in the year 374. Know as the “reluctant bishop” due the fact that he became bishop by popular demand rather than personal inclination, he effectively ran the city for close to 20 years.
A skilled orator and demagogue, Ambrogio campaigned against Paganism and Arianism. His most famous convert, St. Augustine, proclaimed him to be a “model bishop”. Ambrogio died in 397 A.D., at the age of 63. His feast day is celebrated on December 7, the date when he was made bishop. To this day, the Milanese often refer to themselves as “Ambrosiani”, in honor of Sant Ambroeus.