Akademy/2019/A brief guide to Milan's Gastronomy
This is a long page trying to give you a glimpse into the gastronomy of Milan and Lombardy in general. If you want to just get to good places, there's a link to a map below.
What should I eat?
Must-eat from Milan:
- Cotoletta alla milanese - in good places: check out, in particular, the "orecchio di elefante", a particular style with a very thin preparation
- Risotto alla milanese (esp. with ossobuco, but also without)
- Luganega, esp. luganega di Monza (like a salame)
- Cheeses and salumi from Brianza (the countryside between Milan and Como Lake)
- Fish. Weirdly enough, Milan has one of the freshest fishes of Italy, thanks to its role as a distribution center and central market. If you fancy fish, go try it in one of the many restaurants (there are a couple under Central Station tracks), you won't be disappointed.
- Panettone, every winter, or every day in Pavé
Wine grapes/Terroirs of the region: Nebbiolo (sometimes called Chiavennasca) is a typical lombard grape (esp. Valtellina), close to Milan you can find the terroir of the oltrepò pavese, which is also quite rich and full of experimentation with natural fermentation (key grapes: Bonarda, Lambrusco, Barbera), and obviously Franciacorta is also not far away.
Birrificio Lambrate is one of the first Italian microbreweries, opening its doors in 1994. Although the Italian does not drink great quantities of beers, quite a few gastro-pubs opened serving a great selection of local microbreweries. We suggest you try beers from ELAV (Bergamo), Birrificio del Ducato (Parma), Lambrate, or Ribalta, one of the last microbreweries which recently opened its doors to the town.
- Other drinks
Milan has a vibrant mixology scene. Famous local drinks include Campari (try it in a Spritz) and the notorious Negroni cocktail, born in Bar Basso.
If you want to bring some food home, or just buy some of the top groceries you can find, and you missed one of the street markets, you can go to a gastronomic supermarket. The main ones in Milan are:
- Eataly (Garibaldi M2/M5)
- Peck (Duomo M1/M3)
All three very typical, top quality you can find in Milan in terms of food (if you don't want to go * or ** Michelin stars). You can expect to pay around 20-50 EUR per person for dinner, about 30-40% less for lunch, and below 5 euros for breakfast. Use a service such as Zomato to check menus in advance.
The best panettone in town, all year long. Dare I say more?
In the heart of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, by Duomo, a restaurant founded by one of the top chefs in the world. You won't be disappointed by lunch or dinner either, but breakfast is definitely the most affordable of the three meals, priced just a little over a standard breakfast. Their pastry chef, Marco Pedron, will delight you with his creations.
It's weird to talk about this place as a "breakfast" place, as it is open every day with great food and drinks until well after dinner. However, their breakfast and brunches are really top notch. We will have our social event here.
- Trattoria San Filippo Neri
Even if you take just *one* place from the list, you want to make it this one. This place opened as a community-owned recreational place for the workers of the heavy industries once present in the area. Today, the factories are gone, but the people who worked there still love to keep their traditions going. It is now one of the last places in Milan where grandmothers cook and you can enjoy the real Milanese cuisine for a very small price. Don't forget to ask for Mondeghili or a famous Cotoletta for lunch or have a couple of boiled eggs next to a spritz for under five euros. Oh, and it's just 10 minutes away from the uni!
- Ravioleria Sarpi
Ice cream / Afternoon breaks
- Premiata Trattoria Arlati dal 1936 - Via Alberto Nota, 47
Trattoria Arlati is an ancient Trattoria (1936) from way back when that part of town was mostly countryside. Closer to the venue, a little chic but still very authentic, the average price (30-40pp), incredible food
- Da Martino - Via Carlo Farini, 8
Riccardo's hidden gem. It is small and informal but with care to details, definitely cheaper and the food quality is beyond amazing. Cozy. Booking mandatory. Price range would be ~20-25 pp
- Ratanà - Via Gaetano de Castillia, 28
The good kind of fancy. They grow their own food (at least some of it) in a garden in one of the nightlife alternative districts of Milan. The building used to be a train station (a very small one though).
More places to highlight:
- Un posto a Milano
We all know that Italy is the country of pizza, but did you know that the pizza in Rome is VERY different from the pizza in Naples?
Neapolitan pizza is characterized by the thickness and softness of the crust. The dough is worked with nearly 60% or 70% of water, which allows for the dough to be very hydrated. Cooking time is between 60 or 90 seconds.
On the other hand, Roman pizza is said to be “scrocchiarella”, an onomatopoeic word recalling the crunchiness of the crust. In fact, pizza in Rome is thinner and crunchier than its Neapolitan counterpart. The dough is prepared with about 50% of water and cooking time is about 3 minutes.
Milan has yet another variation, with a thick, soft pizza coming in square shape called "Pizza al taglio". Pancafé within the university will serve a great version of Margherita, which you should totally try when it's smoking hot.
The debate in Italy is always open about which one of these kinds of pizza is better. But one thing is for sure: once you arrive in Italy, just have as much pizza as possible!
In Milan, you can find all kind of pizza styles. Some of the restaurants with the top awards for their creations include:
- Marghe (there are two locations) (neapolitan)
- Briscola (several locations all slightly different) (roman, new style)
- Spontini (a "fast-food style" pizza al taglio)
- Gino Sorbillo (historical neapolitan - our prime minister was baking pizza here)
- Theorema - Pero (neapolitan, slightly outside Milan but gold medal in the world pizza championship)
A few more places are on the map linked below.
After dinner / aperitivo
Milan has a long-standing tradition of Aperitivi. Aperitivo is defined by bars and pubs providing a buffet dinner for free when accompanied by the purchase of a standard drink for a fixed price. The standard drink includes everything, from a soda to a cocktail, and you can expect the price to keep the same no matter what you order.
Aperitivo is almost universal to the whole town, every bar will have its variation on the theme. Expect to pay anything between 6€ (by the University) to 12-15€ in the city center for a more fancy experience and unlimited food.
Notable places for an aperitivo outside uni
- Ceresio 7 (fancy), M5 Monumentale
- IL Milano (Via Procaccini, M5 Gerusalemme)
- Frida Bar (M5 Isola)
If you fancy wine you can't miss these wine shops which offer incredible tasting experience for every customer:
- Cantine Isola
- La cieca
The districts "to be" are:
- M5 Isola
- M3 Porta Romana
- M2 Porta Genova (Navigli/V. Tortona)
What should I NOT eat?
Italy is famous for its varied gastronomic scene, and it is sometimes hard to know which dish belongs to which area of production. While it's possible to find specialties in restaurants managed by non-milaneses, this is a list of famous Italian food not typical of Milan. We advise against eating these dishes in non-specialised places, as they are typical tourist traps.
- Hawaii pizza (please)
Google Maps map
You can find these places (and many more) on this map: https://maps.app.goo .gl/AMdY6FjxHcNtv87F7
(you have to re-compose the link yourself as it triggers the spam filter)
- Bergamo and its valleys