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Nov 19, 2006 04:49 AM

High Praise - Ristorante Milano

After going by this place for several years, I finally had the occasion to go last weekend. First of all, I generally avoid Russian Hill due to parking difficulties. At any rate, I am surprised this restaurant does not receive higher praise. I suspect some are turned away by the dated signage and awning outside which lends one to suspect this is a relic from the 80's. Nothing could be further from reality.

Started the meal off with a plate of house made tagliatelle tossed with butter and a generous shaving of white truffles. Pasta was prepared to perfection and was the perfect conduit for the truffles. Originally, we had ordered the risotto with white truffles to be shared by our party of four. Perhaps most impressive was our waiter - a few minutes after taking our order, he came back and made the suggestion that we should have the tagliatelle rather than the risotto as the tagliatelle would better showcase the truffles rather than the risotto.

Secondly, my wife and I shared an aragula and fennel salad with baratta cheese. Could not have been better. Finally, I finished with an excellent plate of veal and my wife enjoyed the gnocchi. All said, I would put this up there against most any Italian restaurant in San Francisco.

Excellent neighborhood restaurant, high integrity food, knowledgable and attentive service, overall great find.

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  1. Hey there, thanks for posting. I'll confess that even though I can walk to Milano, I haven't been there for 15 years or so.

    White truffles are the hot topic right now. Would you mind sharing the price of your meal?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Sure. The white truffle dish was $45. It was intended to be an entree I suspect but we ordered it as an appetizer for our party of four. I don't recall the price of the salad and entree was in the mid $20's if I recall correctly. I think the total cost of dinner, along with one bottle of wine and one bottle which we brought was somewhere in the neighborhood of $250ish, tip included, party of 4.

    2. You are right that it is a great neighborhood restaurant, but it has been uneven over the (gulp) decades. I'm not withing walking distance, but often have had friends in the 'hood. Last time I was there was 2-3 years ago and I brought the truffles (and shaver). They didn't have them, and seemed oblivious to the concept.

      And that's what I mean by uneven...never bad, but (while I've eaten there once every 2-3 years) it's been 15 years since I had a great meal there. Still, neighborhood places are there to be good, not great.

      And neighborhood places that 'do what they do' don't get the praise that a brand new restaurant (often with a publicity campaign) gets. For good or bad, the quality of the food is only part of the total experience.

      6 Replies
      1. re: SteveT

        Could not agree more with your assessment of neighborhood restaurants. That said, this didn't fall down on the food either. Frankly, we were supposed to be to a much bigger named restaurant that night and could not have been happier with the experience at Milano.

        1. re: SteveT

          Hi: can you explain your statement that I 'brought the truffles (and shaver). They didn't have them and seemed oblivious to the concept.' Concept of what? That they should have had them and didn't? That there should have been a shaver? Did you mean to say that you 'bought the truffles'.? (But how could you buy them if they didn't have them?)

          Sorry, I haven't been following the white truffle discussions Melanie refers to, but I can't figure out what you mean and why you think that illustrates uneveness....


          1. re: susancinsf

            I was confused by that too. If the OP means he BROUGHT truffles and a shaver to the restaurant, that is almost as nutty as bringing your own stemware or silverware to a restaurant. What's next, "I bring my own linen napkins because the poly/cotton ones the restaurant offers are too abraisive on my lips."?

            1. re: Husky

              MEA CULPA, mea maxima culpa...yikes, one litte 'R'.

              Yes I bRought truffles, and a shaver.
              Outrageous? Sorry, this is a neighborhood restaurant. Much as in Rome or Manhattan, or SF. Someone drops his/her fork, you go to the station (or nearby empty table) and grab a new one.
              I wouldn't bring truffles to Oliveto or Acquerello or Delfina when they are selling them. I wouldn't bring a bottle of wine I just bought. My cell phone is never on. But I was hanging out at a friend's apt. less than two blocks away, I have eaten at Milano at least thirty times since 1980; I didn't find it odd, and neither did they.

              I'm (only) 46, but geez I remember dating women who carried sweet 'n low before it was commonly found in restaurants. It isn't cheating them out of money/anything and it is enhancing my meal. Where is the downside?

              1. re: SteveT

                Personally, I wasn't judging whether or not it is proper to bring truffles and a shaver to a restaurant when they don't have them. (although I would not dream of going to a station and getting a fork!). That said, it seems a little harsh to me to ding them and call them 'uneven' because they 'seemed oblivious' to the concept: if they didn't find it odd, how could they be oblivious? And if they don't offer them, whether that night or ever, why should they be expected to know what to do with them, especially if they are just a neighborhood place?...basically, you are asking them to go beyond their evening repretoire, and then calling them 'uneven' because they didn't/couldn't meet your expectation that they prepare something not on the menu.

                Personally, I am much more interested in knowing whether or not the food they do have on the menu is uneven or no.

                1. re: SteveT

                  No worries...I must admit that after i typed that, I realized that I always bring my own peperoncino to restaurants because they never have peppers that are hot enough for me!

          2. I also had a very good dinner at Milano about 2 months ago. They have a delish boozy zabaglione. Service was excellent.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Meatball

              Hi there, thanks for the zabaglione reminder. A friend asked where he could find this recently and I blanked out.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Their zabaglione is worth a special trip -- but I don't think they make it every night anymore. They were uneven for a while but seem to have improved. Their pasta pomodoro is wonderful -- very simple as it should be and well-prepared. We have our favorites and have been disappointed at times, but overall we're happy to return.

            2. I have a friend who lives in SF and has traveled to Italy at least once a year for the past decade. He knows Italian food. He has eaten at Milano at least once a week for the past decade as well. Like many of the best trattorias in Italy, Milano is a restaurant in a neighorhood, but it is much more than just a "neighborhood restaurant."

              1. I think Milano's changed hands at least twice over the years.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I don't think any of the ownership changes have been recent unless they're investors, the front of the house has been stable for at least the last five years -- host and a few key waitstaff