The Milanese cuisine has a very distinct profile when compared with other regional cuisines of Italy. Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of exploring the secret corners of this superb gastronomy if you really want to get to know the spirit of the place.
Milan is replete with restaurants which honor, by their generous menus, both the international cuisines and the centuries old, or, on the contrary, the innovative regional recipes. One of the must-tastes is the celebrated risotto alla milanese. Milan and its surroundings, for that matter, are known for their preference for rice instead of pasta, which is quite surprising when it comes to the Italian gastronomy, so there’s no way you can pretend to discover the secret corners of its cuisine and miss out a mouthwatering plate of risotto accompanied by an all tempting ossobuco alla milanese (braised veal shank) spiced with the tantalizing gremolata. If the ossobuco is not enough, you can always complement your primo piatto with a delicious cotoletta alla milanese (breaded veal cutlet).
The region of Milan is also known for its fairly wide range of cheeses. Gorgonzola is, of course, the queen of all cheese plates in the region, but the dairy delights don’t stop here. Your cheese tasting spree should also include ricotta, mascarpone and, while you don’t think of yourself as of a dainty feeder, your palate will be able to tell the milky flavors of all dishes which, to one degree or another, have dairy products (butter, milk and, of course, cream) as basic or complementary ingredients. Don’t miss out the chance to taste the sweet scented panettone in the region where the recipe was created. If your inquisitive sweet tooth asks for it, indulge.
If you look for the best of the Milanese cuisine, try the upscale restaurants of the city. Keep in mind Milan is also famed for its fish and seafood eateries. Despite its landlocked location, Milan is, indeed, home to a handful of restaurants where, as the word goes, tourists can enjoy the most refined and freshest fish and seafood plates in Italy. Vegetarians should be relieved to learn most of the upmarket restaurants welcome guests with vegetarian menus. Milan is also home to several exclusively vegetarian restaurants, so the opportunities are more than generous if your gastronomic preferences confine to vegetables and cheeses.
Located in the Navigli area of Milan, Trattoria Milanese is the place you want to go to if you’re in the mood for a genuinely Milanese gastronomic experience. This restaurant opened in the 1930s, and since then it has managed to become not only one of the locals’ favorites, but also a place of special tourist interest, given the cooks observe the traditional Milanese recipes, with no concession to innovative influences.
Risotto alla milanese remains the house specialty, and if you don’t want to go restaurant hopping in search of the perfect risotto dish, go here and don’t waste any time. Also ask for the mouthwatering ossobuco or cotoletta: these meaty delights will excellently complement your risotto plate. For a change in flavors, you can also order gorgonzola with polenta as secondo piatto.
Also keep in mind the staff can suggest the best food and wine combinations, in case you’re not already a connoisseur of the enogastronomic art. Plus, given the popularity of the place, reservations are highly recommended.
Pescheria da Claudio might not be the most stylish eatery in Milan (in fact, it is a little bit too down to earth not only for the Milanese glitterati, but also for the common people who, occasionally, want to dine in style), but it is definitely one of the best places where you can grab an excellent fish and seafood meal.
While the Milanese cuisine does not excel in such specialties, Milan is one of the main seafood and fish export cities, which means the freshness of the produces is guaranteed, in case you do want to expand your Milanese experience with something a little less typical of the traditional local gastronomy. Don’t expect anything glitzy about Pescheria da Claudio (clients eat standing up), but the atmosphere is quite upbeat. The place is crammed with locals keen on mixed plates which, most of the times, include sea bass, red snapper, tuna, cod, salmon and shrimp. The plates are always complemented by a fine glass of prosecco, so you’ll be able to say Pescheria da Claudio offered you nothing less but a genuine Italian seafood experience.
If you already know the Milanese cuisine favors rice instead of pasta, and if you still expect to have at least one typical Italian meal while in Milan, Dongio is one of your best bets. Located southeast of the center, near Porta Romana, the restaurant specializes in Calabrian cuisine, being often appreciated as one of the finest pasta eateries in Milan. Yet, it’s not only the pasta dishes which bring fame to this small and bustling restaurant, but also the meaty delights one can enrich their primo piatto here: all sorts of spicy salamis and sausages which evoke the cult of strong tastes and flavors of the Calabrian cuisine.
Try the homemade pasta (Spaghettoni alla Tamarro is quite exceptional) and don’t miss out the opportunity to sample the delicious n'duja (a sort of salami which can be spread on bread) served as antipasti or at the first course. The secondo piatto usually contains cheese or mixes of cheese and meats. Also try the wines: don’t hesitate to take the waiters’ suggestions, even if they hint on less branded labels. The combinations they suggest are always adequate, marvelously complementing the spirit of the Calabrian cuisine.
This cozy restaurant is always crammed with clients, so, if you want to make sure you’ll get a table, make reservations. Even if the staff is always willing to help you find a table, you might not want to take the risk of being left out (the restaurant being highly popular with both the locals and the visitors of Milan). Also keep in mind this is one of the few places where the quality / price ratio is more than satisfactory (this is, in fact, one of the main reasons of its popularity).
Al Pont de Ferr is located in the Navigli area of Milan. It allows a sweeping view of the canal, which is of no little importance if you want to complement your culinary pleasure with the pleasure of admiring a beautiful view. This is one of the few Milanese restaurants rated one star by the Michelin guide by reason of both the quality of the food (the restaurant specializes in Italian cuisine, so you can expect to be served a wide range of typical delights, accompanied by reputed wine labels) and of the quality / price ratio.
Al Pont de Ferr maintains a rusticated atmosphere, but not at the expense of the elegance of the ambiance. The menu is superb, both traditional and innovative, so you will be able to both experience the flavors of the old recipes and to appreciate the ingenuity of the cooks. The lamb is particularly fine (if served with eggplant puree), but you can also try the mouthwatering range of pasta (paste e fagioli seems to be quite popular) or you can deepen the menu and its meaty temptations (porchetta, tocchetti di coniglio). Don’t miss out the cheese plates, and keep in mind reservations are required if you want to make sure you’ll get a table of one of Milan’s top of the range restaurants.