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Milan Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations


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#1 quack

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Posted 25 September 2004 - 05:31 PM

David Russell here, posting under quack's log-in...

I was in Milan last week and mostly dined quite well. High points were Osteria di Porta Cicca on Ripa di Porta Ticinese in the Navigli district. They had fresh porcinis and would alter just about any dish to include them if so desired. Small but expertly chosen wine list. We had a 1990 (!)--whites with a decade-plus' aging in stainless steel is a "thing" of theirs here--Castel Terlano chardonnay for something like 54€ and a 1988 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo for 75€.

Al Pont de Ferr (almost next door to the above) is still good, though not as inexpensive as it used to be and starting to show some evidence of trying to go slightly trendy (i.e., with respect to plating, etc.). Nevertheless, my primo of octopus--unbelievably sweet and succulent--with endive was one of the best dishes on the whole trip.

Way out on the eastern outskirts of town (I think we were near Linate; in any case, there was a cornfield across the street) is a lovely osteria called I Valtellina, specializing, logically enough, in the food of that tranverse alpine valley. Gorgeous plate of salumi to begin (duck, venison, veal, pork, beef....sometimes different curing methods for the same animal). Brilliant sciatt (fritters filled with some Valtellina cheese, the name of which escapes me at this moment). The wine list wasn't great, but there were some nice sforsatos and the like.

Most ambitious dinner by far was at Joia. Picture vegetarian refracted through the lens of Ferran Adrià, for want of a more clever metaphor. Not every dish was brilliant (the rice in the "Risotto Deconstructed" was a pretty sorry affair, reminiscent of Uncle Ben's), but many, or even most, were. Fabulous wine list, with plenty of showoff verticals along the lines of Sassicaia and Gaja. But more interesting were the many wines from the likes of Radikon, Gravner, et al. We drank Bellavista Brut Rosé, 2002 Vitovska from Edi Kante, and 1995 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo from Eduardo Valentini.

With the exception of Joia, we got out of virtually every place for about 60-65€ per person, everything included. There were four of us, and we typically had aperitivi, two or three courses plus dessert, mineral water, coffee, and a couple of bottles of wine. Joia, with three bottles of wine among four people, and ordering tasting menus, ended up being something like 466€, still cheap compared with what a comparable meal in L.A. or New York would have cost.

A quick note re Alfredo-Gran San Bernardo, which often gets recommended in guidebooks, on "foodie" sites, etc.: I was there two years ago and it majorly sucked: my primo of risotto alla Milanese arrived literally--this is no exaggeration--within three minutes of my having given the maître d' my order. The entire surface had become hardened from having sat under a heat source since being made who-knows-when. Once that plate was cleared, the second course (an OK osso buco) arrived even more quickly than the first, probably inside of a minute. What's the rush? The wine list was a small, boring, picked-over exercise in mediocrity.

#2 Craig Camp

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Posted 25 September 2004 - 11:27 PM

We had a 1990 (!)--whites with a decade-plus' aging in stainless steel is a "thing" of theirs here--Castel Terlano chardonnay for something like 54€ and a 1988 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo for 75€.


Wow - two great wines. Wish I had been there.

Those Terlano wines are exceptional. Maybe the best value in great white wines anywhere.
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#3 hathor

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Posted 27 September 2004 - 08:25 AM

Eating in Milano is such a treat....never enough time and/or belly room! :biggrin:

Are you familiar with "Tano Passami l'olio"? on via Vegevano? Its a small restaurant in a very off the beaten track neighborhood. Tano is a showman extrordinare! He does not use butter or garlic...only oils...and massive amounts fo truffles. We've been eating there for years, and his flavor and texture combinations are always fabulous without being the least bit 'tricky'. Just lovely....

#4 tsquare

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Posted 27 September 2004 - 09:04 AM

Thanks so much - someone was suppose to email the name of the veg restaurant in Milan and never did - it sounds like it must be Joia. Could you eat there for a moderate price if you limited your wine to a glasss or two? How crowded for a Friday night? Solo diner...

#5 robert brown

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Posted 27 September 2004 - 04:13 PM

tsquare, La Latteria or Arturo's is the quintessential low-cost restaurant in Milan. I haven't been in a few years, and I notice that it isn't in my Guida de L'Espresso, though I remember it being so. It is in Faith Willinger's Eating in Italy, but this book is now several years old. Try giving a call at (02)6597653 and hope it's still around. The restaurant is tiny; it doesn't take reservations. I would always arrive for lunch as close to noon as possible to get a table, although the turnover is fairly rapid. It's delicious, down-to-earth cooking that I would guess is less than 50 euros a head. It's on via San Marco 24, not far from via Manzoni. I have eaten there many times and have always left contented.

Otherwise da Giacomo is lively and delicious for seafood. It's medium price, I would say. Maybe 60-75 euros per person as a guess.

#6 tsquare

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 02:04 PM

50 euros a head.

Is this "moderate" for Italy in general? At lunch?
Must rethink my budget.

#7 robert brown

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 02:15 PM

tsquare, 50 euros is allowing for a worst-case scenario. I just don't think you will find a more enjoyable low-cost place for a restaurant meal than La Latteria. I'm also big on lunch in cafes, but you have to find a good one. They can be fun, delicious and a good way to husband your resources. For good cafe addresses, I'm not a good source.

#8 tsquare

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 04:18 PM

tsquare, 50 euros is allowing for a worst-case scenario. I just don't think you will find a more enjoyable low-cost place for a restaurant meal than La Latteria. I'm also big on lunch in cafes, but you have to find a good one. They can be fun, delicious and a good way to husband your resources. For good cafe addresses, I'm not a good source.

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Thanks much. I'll have two chances, so I will try to get there. Last meal in Italy or first...

#9 victornet

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 05:25 PM

I last ate at Joia 3 or 4 years ago, but it was great and I second the praise.
If someone is looking at this thread for more of a budget recommendation, I've enjoyed meals at Santamarta 6, not far from the Cathedral.

#10 paulbrussel

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 03:40 AM

Joia has a very nice website: http://www.joia.it/. There are several menus, from 40 - 52 €. But I do think there is a cheap lunch menu as well. The menus you can find at the web site.
It is mainly but not completely vegetarian: there are some fish dishes.
The concept is quite interesting, the products used are excellent, and the wine list is nice.
However, I thought there was sometimes a lack of harmony in the dishes which made them not very consistent.

#11 vesnuccia

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Posted 02 October 2004 - 04:33 PM

i'm sorry but i desigree when you talk about joia so well
i dinned 3 times there, all tree times i was not sudisfaid with food but happy about wine i drank
it can seam so fancy and good cuisine but i found it just bad food and lack of immagination
a real cook knows better than that
a good cook cooks
its not just a show
but italians that go to joia go for teatro :-D
and i'm sorry to say but quality/price at joia is not that good!!!!

Edited by vesnuccia, 02 October 2004 - 04:37 PM.


#12 vesnuccia

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Posted 02 October 2004 - 04:41 PM

50 euros a head.

Is this "moderate" for Italy in general? At lunch?
Must rethink my budget

it depends where you go to lunch
but i can assour you that the prices are not so high if you eat in good traditional osteria (any of the one in a slow food books)

#13 David Lerner

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 06:40 PM

50 euros a head.

Is this "moderate" for Italy in general? At lunch?
Must rethink my budget

it depends where you go to lunch
but i can assour you that the prices are not so high if you eat in good traditional osteria (any of the one in a slow food books)

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Actually, Latteria is a good traditional osteria, and we found it in the Slow Food book.

P.S. I have to agree with Vesnuccia about Joia - didn't do it for this vegetarian at all.

#14 tsquare

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Posted 08 October 2004 - 12:47 PM

it depends where you go to lunch
but i can assour you that the prices are not so high if you eat in good traditional osteria (any of the one in a slow food books)

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Actually, Latteria is a good traditional osteria, and we found it in the Slow Food book.

P.S. I have to agree with Vesnuccia about Joia - didn't do it for this vegetarian at all.

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Thanks all. Latteria is a simple place with very straightfoward cooking. I think I was the only non-Italian tonight. 3 courses plus vino rosso for 32 Euros complete. Now, to sleep. Also found a pleasant place for a drink beforehand, with a sunken terrace and a very stiff Negroni. Mediateca (?) - bar and book-DVD seller.

#15 DaleJ

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Posted 09 November 2004 - 08:15 AM

Leaving for Rome Thursday for a few days, then to Pienza for a few more. Will finish up in Milan the nights of 19, 20 and 21 November. I have a reservation at Boccondivino on the 20th but even having been to Milan a couple of times in the past few years I don't recall any significant eats.

I'd like some recommendations, especially for Sunday evening since most of the city is shut down that day. I may even spend that day at Lake Como. Help.

#16 tsquare

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Posted 09 November 2004 - 09:22 AM

Leaving for Rome Thursday for a few days, then to Pienza for a few more.  Will finish up in Milan the nights of 19, 20 and 21 November.  I have a reservation at Boccondivino on the 20th but even having been to Milan a couple of times in the past few years I don't recall any significant eats.

I'd like some recommendations, especially for Sunday evening since most of the city is shut down that day.  I may even spend that day at Lake Como.  Help.

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I didn't have anything significant in Milan (well, I loved the Antico pastry shop off of the main street and the lovely Enoteca I found at the last minute) but the meal at La Latteria was quite nice. Check this thread for some recent discussion. Or are you looking to spend big euros?
Don't forget to get your reservations NOW if you plan to eat at Latte di Luna in Pienza. (And will someone (Pamela?) tell me why there are so many "Luna"s in the Pienza?) Or take to the road and go to "Il Borgo" in Rocca d'Orcia for a lovely meal in a sweet hamlet.)

#17 albiston

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Posted 09 November 2004 - 01:46 PM

Dale what sort of place are you looking for in Milan?

If you're looking for some high-end dining, Cracco-Peck (the old Peck restaurant now under the guide of rising star chef Carlo Cracco) has been recieving great reviews on the Italian press.
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#18 DaleJ

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Posted 09 November 2004 - 03:38 PM

Alberto: I guess I fit the usual mode. I'm looking for authentic (traditional?) hand made food in appropriate surroundings. I've eated upstairs at Peck, but that doesn't fit what I just said. For instance, I've never been to Navigli (sp?) and I hear that its an interesting place. Bottom line: I'd be happy with any good recommendation. Thanks.

#19 robert brown

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Posted 10 November 2004 - 03:46 PM

My reputation spared once more. Tsquare, I'm glad you liked La Latteria and were able to spend quite a bit less than I might have thought. I wish I were there tonight.

#20 DeirdreStraughan

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Posted 11 November 2004 - 12:31 AM

We ate at Joia years ago. It was certainly, um, interesting, and the food was tasty, but we never went back - given that we lived fairly close to it in Milan, this is not a vote of confidence!

My web page http://www.straughan...restaurants.htm lists several restaurants in Milan, all of them cheaper than Joia (some radically so), and very good.

Best, Deirdre'

best regards,
Deirdré Straughan

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#21 little ms foodie

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 01:35 PM

4 of us will be in Milan for just one night before heading to Cinque Terre. We want to go out for a really great casual dinner- thinking of a great osteria or the like. It will be my husbands first night in Italy and he loves rustic food from this region. we are staying near the Duomo and would love any advise on places to go for drinks before and after too!

#22 Franci

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 02:10 AM

4 of us will be in Milan for just one night before heading to Cinque Terre. We want to go out for a really great casual dinner- thinking of a great osteria or the like. It will be my husbands first night in Italy and he loves rustic food from this region. we are staying near the Duomo and would love any advise on places to go for drinks before and after too!

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I lived in Milan for 6 years and it's one of my favourite cities in the world. If it's your husband first time there, I'd go for sure around Brera for aperitivo and I would walk from Colonne di San Lorenzo to Navigli after dinner for drinks. You need to go there to have a feel for Milano

There is one osteria that I tried this year and my family many times

Abele
via della Temperanza 5, subway stop Pasteur Tel 02 26.13.855

It's a nice and rustic place, the waiters are very, very nice. Their specialty is risotto. They usually serve a different tris of risotti every night. It's more cucuna Lombarda and veneta.

#23 emsny

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 02:50 PM

I see you haven't had many replies here. There's an inexpensive but very good restaurant called, sweetly, A La Cucina Economica: via Guicciardini, 8 - 02 783 256. The woman, who cooks, is from Puglia and the man, who doesn't, is from way up north - maybe Friuli. So the cooking isn't Milanese. But we enjoyed it enormously. Friendly and very popular; no decor, naturally, but pleasant in that simple Italian restaurant way. The recommendation came from the SlowFood "Osterie d'Italia 2005".

Back in September we had this to eat there, for fifty euros (for two people):

Orecchiette with provola affumicata; mozz; tomatoes; basil

Farfalle with zucca and porcini

Fumada from Trentino - slightly steamed, then smoked beef - raw, really. With sliced apples and good oil.

Crostata di frutta: plums, peaches, figs. Called a charlotte - but definitely a pie, as the Polish Szarlotka.

Choc cake - excellent, with breadcrumbs lining the mold.

Wine: Verdeca Ognisole “Medico di Maglie” Puglia Feudi di S Gregorio. Owner said traditionally drunk on San Giorgio's day. So when is that? He had no idea.

Grappa from the Veneto: mixed aromatic grapes: Venegazzù. Also offered another grappa from up north - Treber-grappa. Is “treber” German for trebbiano?

Edited by emsny, 30 July 2006 - 02:50 PM.


#24 hathor

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Posted 01 August 2006 - 06:16 AM

There is a large trattoria right near the Douomo, I believe its called Il Bagutto. Ask at your hotel. It's sort of touristy, but really fun, and the food is basic and good. Check around though as a lot of restaurants are closing for ferie.

#25 Andrew Fenton

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Posted 01 August 2006 - 06:39 AM

When I was in Milan this spring, I had dinner at Antica Trattoria Milano (Via Padova, 344, near the Navigli), on the recommendation of the Slow Food osterie guide. It's a pretty good-- I had a fine osso buco-- and basic kinda place. There was also a VERY good gelateria right near by; but its name is escaping me right now.

Definitely follow Franci's advice to walk around Navigli in the evening. I found most of Milan to be cold (in atmosphere, not temperature) and a little dull; but that's a nice area.

#26 skiter53

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 12:48 PM

As I will be in Milan in September, I'm busily trying to take notes on restaurant recommendations. Anyone have anymore to add to this list? I'm particularly interested in restaurants serving food that's from the region.

#27 little ms foodie

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 03:40 PM

We ended up at Cantina della Vetra via Pio IV, 3
02-89-40-38-43. It was great, very lively and wonderful food (but a tad slow service wise)

#28 Franci

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 05:27 PM

We ended up at Cantina della Vetra via Pio IV, 3
02-89-40-38-43. It was great, very lively and wonderful food (but a tad slow service wise)

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Is it this one
one, right? If it is the place I have in mind, close by to Piazza Vetra, I have been there some years ago...times I used to go to aperitivo very often :biggrin:

#29 little ms foodie

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 05:32 PM

We ended up at Cantina della Vetra via Pio IV, 3
02-89-40-38-43. It was great, very lively and wonderful food (but a tad slow service wise)

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Is it this one
one, right? If it is the place I have in mind, close by to Piazza Vetra, I have been there some years ago...times I used to go to aperitivo very often :biggrin:

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Yes that is the place!!

#30 therese

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 05:33 AM

We ended up at Cantina della Vetra via Pio IV, 3
02-89-40-38-43. It was great, very lively and wonderful food (but a tad slow service wise)

View Post


Is it this one
one, right? If it is the place I have in mind, close by to Piazza Vetra, I have been there some years ago...times I used to go to aperitivo very often :biggrin:

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Yes that is the place!!

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A very small world. I ate there in September with friends from Milan (who'd picked the place). Web site with more details here.
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