The Bollate penitentiary, a medium-security prison in Milan, Italy, is home to prisoners who have been convicted of crimes like homicide, drug trafficking, and armed robbery — but it’s also home to a facility no one would expect to find inside a jail: A fine dining restaurant.
The restaurant, called InGalera (Italian slang for “in prison”) is open to the public and serviced by approximately 1,100 inmates who do the cooking, cleaning, and waiting. Instead of the standard prison jumpsuit, inmates wear chef’s jackets and crisp uniforms, and the restaurant’s walls are decorated with scenes from famous prison movies like Escape from Alcatraz.
Inmates make a modest monthly salary, up to 1,000 euros (approximately $1,140 USD) for their work and share tips while learning skills that will help them re-enter society as productive members.
"We select inmates who are serving long sentences for all kind of crimes, including robbery and murder,” Sylvia Polleri, the head of the NGO that helped launch the restaurant, told NBC News. “The only ones who can't work here are Mafia affiliates.”
Since it opened late last year, InGalera has earned rave reviews for its elevated menu. One Italian food critic, Valerio Massimo Visintin praised the restaurant and its reasonable prices. “To have honest prices, you have to come to jail,” Visintin wrote.