Dining at Willy’s
His «big pizza» has not yet become a classic Milanese dish, but it’s not far off. Abu Markhyyeh Isam Hamdi Ayesh, known as Willy, opened his first restaurant specialising in giant pizzas in Milan in 1996 and since then has never looked back. Today there are nine restaurants in the «Da Willy» chain in Milan, the latest of which was recently opened in Piazza Cantore. However, this pizza empire extends well beyond the borders of Italy’s Lombardy region, reaching as far as Jordan, Willy Markhyyeh’s country of origin, Cyprus and — through affiliates — Dubai, Beirut, Sharm el Sheikh and Shanghai.
Built on two-levels, the new «Da Willy» restaurant in Milan can seat up to a hundred and twenty guests inside and a further hundred and fifty on the external terrace. Tiles from the Fucina di Tagina Ceramiche d’Arte collection were chosen for the floor coverings of the 170 square metres of the restaurant, for the walls in the main room, for the entrance counter and for the surface finish of a unique hollowed-out wood wall.
«I wanted a product that would help to distinguish the spaces but at the same time would be practical and durable,» explains the chain’s founder Willy Markhyyeh. «My restaurants attract between eight and ten thousand people a year, so I needed a material that would last well beyond the three years that are normally guaranteed by the manufacturers.»
Made of porcelain ceramic with metal oxides, the tiles in the collection emulate the surface and colour effects of metallic minerals and their treatments. The tile surfaces with their luminous spiral motifs display the clear marks of artisan wire-brushing techniques typical of metalworking, which lend unique personal appeal to each tile.
Due to foot traffic, the iridescent metallic surfaces of the tiles gradually undergo very small changes in colour and gloss, giving them a characteristic natural ageing effect that enhances the imperfections of the material.
A further distinctive feature of these tiles is the discolorations of various sizes that sometimes appear on the surfaces due to the emergence of metal oxides. This unique feature creates plays of light that lend movement and volume to the covered surfaces of the restaurant.
«The old hollowed-out wood wall complemented by the bronze colours of the ceramic tiles has strong decorative appeal, giving the restaurant the distinctive atmosphere that is so popular amongst our clientele,» concludes Willy Markhyyeh.