Food in Milan

As you might imagine, food is also fashion in this Italian fashion capital. The restaurants can sometimes feel all style and no substance, but there is something for everyone in this city, including warm, traditional Milanese cuisine.

Milanese food

The first thing to know about Milan is that it’s surrounded by rice fields. Risotto is big here and is the topic of much discussion. There’s no one way to cook it that everyone agrees on - some like it with more liquid, some less, some with more salt…see what you think and your fellow Italians will be delighted to pitch in to the debate.

Risotto alla Milanese by naotakemThe classic risotto is the ‘Risotto alla Milanese’, which is rice cooked with saffron. It’s often nicely paired with Osso Buco, a slowly roasted veal shank. Another big thing to eat is the Cotoletta, a schnitzel-style veal, crumbed and fried in butter.

The Naviglio Grande area is a great place to start to try typical Milanese cuisine with many cosy restaurants. In summer, you can enjoy sitting by the canal, although ask your waiter for some mosquito spray. L’Altro Luca e Andrea, at numbe 24 on the ‘Alzaia Naviglio Grande’ canal, serves many of these delicious Milanese classics. Alternatively, take a short walk away from the canal and you’ll find Damm-atrà, (at 1 Via Elia Lombardini) - a friendly trattoria which has all the standard Milanese fare plus some interesting traditional entrees, including fried bread, potato skins and fried nerves.

If you fancy trying the Cotoletta alla Milanese (the famous breaded veal cutlet), head for La Cotoletteria on Corso Garibaldi 11.

If you want to upscale your dining experience, Cracco, with two Michelin-stars, is highly recommended for its modern and creative take on Milanese cuisine. You’ll find it at 4 Via Victor Hugo.

Aperitivo /happy hour

While in many parts of Europe it’s quite common to have an aperitif before dinner to stimulate the appetite, Milan offers not only the drink but a mountain of food that could actually replace your dinner if you so wish.

Focaccia by npinto_97In many bars, from around 7 to 9 or 10pm, you can go for a drink and then help yourself to the buffet as many times as you’d like. The food tends to be easy food - pizza squares, focaccia, olives, pasta or rice - food that tends to complement your often strong cocktail (“free pour” rules here).

The area surrounding Piazza Vetra, just off the Via Torino shopping strip, is a nice spot to try out this very Milanese custom. There are some excellent buffets and good-quality cocktails. The Navigli Canal area is also full of great places to discover.

For something a bit more glam, try Globe, which is located on the top of the Coin department store, at Piazza 5 Giornate.

Take an Italian food tasting tour

Fashion-influenced restaurants

Unsurprisingly, the fashion industry has worked to make its mark on the restaurant business here and you will come across some amazingly elegant places. Try Dolce and Gabbana Gold, on Piazza Risorgimento, all decked out in gold and with a Sicilian-influenced menu. Nobu Armani is good if you fancy some delicious sushi at Via Pisoni 1. Alternatively, try Trussardi next to the Opera della Scala. Along with the fashion you can find Trussardi Cafè offering glam hamburgers and panini or Trussardi Ristorante upstairs for beautiful and interesting Italian cuisine.

Non-Milanese Italian food

You could eat for years and still not have tried all of the amazing dishes Italy has to offer. If you fancy sampling some cooking from beyond Milan, start with Trattoria Pugliese Acquasala, 71 Ripa di Porta Ticinese, which offers up typical dishes from the region of Puglia. Roman cooking reigns supreme at Pane & Ojo, 10 Via Ludovico Muratori, while L’antica Foccaceria di San Francesco, which has three different locations in Milan, is the place to head for all your Sicilian favourites such as cannoli and arancini.

International cuisine

Although Milan doesn’t have the diversity of London, if a craving for something non-Italian hits you, there are some decent options.

Sushi by titou.netA newcomer to the Chinese-fusion scene in Milan is Ba (10 Via Carlo Ravizza), with a Cantonese-inspired menu in a beautiful restaurant. Another popular place is Mandarin 2, at 22A via Garofalo/ Via Donatello.

Japanese is big here and there are many good restaurants to choose from. Try Hana at Corso Vercelli, 37 or the classic sushi bar at Poporoya Sushi Bar, 17 Via Eustachi.

For a special night, the lovely Vietnamamour, 7 Via Alessandro Pestalozza, never fails to offer top-quality Vietnamese cuisine in a beautiful setting. Ask to be seated in the outside garden in the summer.

The area around Porta Venezia is filled with African dining options, in particular Eritrean. Try Adulis Restaurant at 24 via Melzo. A good place for Indian is Just India at 34 Via Benedetto Marcello.

Gelato Giusto by br1dotcomGelato!

No trip to Italy is complete without some gelato and you’ll find some fantastic options in Milan. Shockolat, at 9 Via Giovanni Boccaccio, is a winner, while you might also like the limited but interesting flavours of Gelato Giusto, at 17 via San Gregorio. For a classic, family-run gelateria, you can’t beat Il Rigoletto, 9 Via San Siro.