One Day in Milan: a City Tasting Tour
With it’s tranquil canals, historic attractions, world class architecture, shopping and some of the most exciting restaurants Italy has to offer, Milan is a perfect food destination. Add all this to the fact that hundreds of countries from around the world will be using Milan as a six month stage to showcase their own unique food and ideas during the Expo and it quickly becomes one of the must visit European cities of 2015.
Milan is small but it’s food offering is huge and to help you make your way around, we’ve created a City Tasting Tour of some of the best places to eat in Milan. We’ve covered breakfast, lunch, dinner, aperitivo and a special bonus selection of street food for those wanted to grab a bite on foot.
Here’s our truly tasty day in the city with Milan best restaurants and places where to eat: enjoyed best with an empty stomach, inquisitive palate and a ravenous hunger for discovery.
GETTING OFF TO A GOOD START… WHERE TO HAVE BREAKFAST
Even the New York Times has pinpointed it as being one of the best spots in Milano, and not without reason. The quality of its pastries and baked products is excellent (also thanks to the time and care that goes into its naturally leavened products using mother dough): don’t miss the brioches filled with Madagascar vanilla-flavoured custard cream, the caramelized apricot tart and the streusel with peanuts and cinnamon.
There are so many reasons why breakfast at Taglio’s should be taught at school: an international selection comprises long coffees, omelettes and egg Benedict (now legendary along Milan’s Navigli canals), the city’s typical bread shape, the “michetta”, served dry with butter and sugar – a Milanese must that has unjustly fallen into disuse.
France has provided the inspiration for this quiet cake shop on an even quieter street, via Ampère. The ideal place for those who dislike hurried breakfasts consumed rapidly at the counter, preferring to take a long relaxing break, comfortably seated at a table to enjoy tarte tatin or clafoutis, chocolate mousse or macaroons. Don’t forget to try the speciality of the house: chocolate cake with raspberries.
A LUNCH BREAK WITH A DIFFERENCE
For the more audacious with a strong stomach and an open mind. Or for those who have plenty of time to spare after lunch for walking it off or taking a long siesta. At Mangiari di strada you can try street food from all over Italy, from fried brain to Venetian-style diaphragm (bovine respiratory muscle), in a triumph of meat, fried foods and offal.
Forget about boiled zucchini: in the menu offered by That's Vapore (Vapore meaning steam) you will find tortelli (stuffed pasta), gnocchi, with meat, fish and vegetables, together with steam baskets dedicated to vegetarians. Desserts are also available.
A venue that is tiny (seating capacity for no more than 17 diners) and simply delicious. On the menu there are traditional American burgers and a selection of salads, chips and soups.
If you don’t want to pause for a lunch break, street food is an excellent choice. But watch out: among the many options on offer – fried fish, American, Korean, Mexican and Kebab rolls – it is not always so easy to find quality street food, at affordable prices that is. A possible solution are the kebabs from Mariù made from Italian-bred meat, available in four different forms of bread roll and served with typical Italian products.
Inside the new indoor market in piazza XXIV Maggio you will find the Macelleria Popolare con Cucina. Try the Messina-style meat rolls (braciole messinesi) and the other traditional Italian meat recipes such as bread rolls filled with tripe or sausages made from prime quality, organically farmed meat from animals that are put out to pasture.
Here, the speciality of the house are the Okonomiyaki, Japanese pancakes made from flour, cabbage and egg, and served in various ways, often with meat or katsuobushi. A small yet neat interior with just a few seats, but don’t expect to find a place easily. The alternative is to eat standing up against the little serving hatch of the venue, in authentic street food style.
IN A CITY THAT INVENTED THE APERITIVO
An important landmark of the Milanese happy hour: Rita is a famous spot for those wanting to enjoy a drink before their evening meal. One of the reasons for its success lies in location, slightly off the beaten track of the bar-lined canal banks in the Navigli district, not to mention the excellent cocktails which have made history in this bar. Whatever you order to drink, you will be offered a selection of raw vegetables, condiments and focaccia flatbread.
An authentic fishmonger’s a few steps away from Milan’s cathedral. With a quality of unquestionable standing, it offers an aperitif at 12/15 Euros which comprises a fish dish of the customer’s choice, among those on offer, and a glass of wine. The fish selection changes every day but the quality is consistently high. You won’t regret dropping in if you happen to be in the centre of town.
A wine shop where you will not be offered an actual aperitif but you will get to taste a selection of excellent cold cuts, Apulia olives and other delicacies. Behind the counter, you will be invited to a “blind” tasting session (and if you guess the wine, it will be on the house), or more simply to sip one of the excellent wines recommended by the staff.
THERE’S MUCH MORE TO MILANESE CUISINE THAN COTOLETTA
After being ushered to your seat in the large Art Deco-style dining room, you will be spoilt for choice: from pappardelle (wide ribbon pasta) served with vegetables and cream of taleggio cheese to cream of lettuce soup. A platter of mixed boiled meats, rabbit marinated with calamint, snails or roast cockerel filled with prunes and sausages with apple, onion and mustard sauce. The establishment is particularly proud of its cheese trolley selection, which indeed has few equals.
First opened in 1985, L'Ulmet is the right place to go for simple cuisine with an innovative twist. The house chefs pay homage to local specialities with a subdivision of the menu into starters, soups and main courses. Ossobuco with saffron-flavoured risotto is a meal in itself, no doubt about it, but try to leave room for the monkfish swathed in bacon on a bed of radicchio, cabernet and dark chocolate sauce and maybe one of the house desserts.
Furnished in the style of a typical trattoria, la Bettola di Piero welcomes customers with the warm yet brisk manner of those who are busy getting food on the table and haven’t time to hang around. The menu offers a well-studied selection to guarantee the quality and freshness of its dishes: from fried brain to risotto with ossobuco and ravioli filled with braised beef or, alternatively, with pumpkin, amaretti and mostarda (fruit preserved in syrup and mustard oil), which literally melt in your mouth. Second courses include Milanese-style breaded veal cutlet, duck and veal kidneys. The menu reflects the changing seasons and there is always space for a “dish of the day” which is well worth trying, especially at lunchtime.