Dining in Milan
Was in Milan in May 2008. Here's a belated report on restaurants --
*** great food, memorable experience, would go back
** OK food, nice experience
* OK food, but not worth the walk
No stars = Do not under any circumstances go here!
**Trattoria La Milanese, Via Santa Marta 11
Trattoria Milanese is a much-recommended restaurant, both for its food quality and authenticity. Several large rooms with communal type tables. Very traditional Milanese menu. What we ate: We got a complimentary plate of fried squares of polenta and fried zucchini flowers. Then a rich brodo and a piatto of salume, prosciutto, lardo for starters. DH had the costelleto Milanese, a HUGE breaded bone-in veal chop. I had the half portion of risotto and a half portion of osso buco. We had a bottle of wine but I didn’t write it down. DH had creme caramel. We both had café macchiato. Cost: 96 euros (all restaurant costs mentioned will include all courses, wine, sparkling water, coperto.)
***L’Assassino, Via Amedei 8
Great restaurant. About a 15 minute walk from the Piazza Duomo. Pretty pink interior. I had picked this restaurant as someone on Chowhound had mentioned that they serve a seafood fritto misto which is one of my all time favorite dishes. What we ate: For starters, sformatino di verdure, then a serving of pappardelle di carciofi, and DH had culatello di zibello, which he had been wanting to try. Excellent so far. Then I had fritto di scampi and calamaretti, and DH had tortelloni di magro con asparagi. Fantastic! The fritto had the sweet but briny taste of the sea encased in a golden crunch. The pastas were freshly made in house. We drink a Gianni Voerzio Dolcetto 2006 from La Morra. DH has his favorite dessert – mixed berries with gelato. The service is very good, and the manager comes to talk to us. (We are the only English speakers in the place though they seem to appreciate my attempts at restaurant Italian.) He loves American national parks and has been to the U.S. 14 times. We are ready to leave but the manager brings over vin santo and cantucci. Cost: 109 euros.
***Hosteria Borromei, Via Borromei 4
We got our choice of pretty outdoor tables on a covered patio decorated with pots of red flowers and yellow tablecloths. We started with wine – a Terre de Franciacorte, La Valle “Albus” from Lombardia. It’s cool and citrusy. I started with a salad of raw shaved artichoke and grana padano dressed with olive oil, lemon, and pepper. DH had insalata caprese with fresh mozzarella. Then I proceeded to tortelloni of ricotta and asparagus, tossed in butter. It was drizzled with an egg yolk sauce and bits of chopped tomato so that it looked like a flower on the plate. DH had a veal scallopine with porcini mushrooms. We asked the waiter about the porcini – yes, they were fresh; the weather extended the season. Excellent. DH finished up with berries and cream. Caffe all around. Cost: 94 euros.
*Alla Cucina della Langhe, Corso Como 6
This restaurant supposedly features dishes of the Langhe in the Piemonte and so we start with a 2005 Valospi Barbera d’Asti Superiore. The menu has some Langhe dishes but it’s actually more of a mixed bag. We got a complimentary amuse bouche – a tasty focaccia of onion and tomato. Starters were culatello di zibello for DH and bresaola dressed with lemon and EVOO for me. Then I have gnocchi with tomato and basil. DH has the infamous Milanese veal cutlet “primavera” – topped with a salad of fresh arugula and tomato. DH tops off with panna cotta caramel. Caffe all around. Cost: 98 euros. The food was good, but not great. But if you’re looking for a restaurant in the midst of the Via Brera.Corso Como bars and the action, this is an OK pick.
***Da Giacomo, 6 Via Pascale Sottocorno
The restaurant is very pretty inside, in light greens and yellows. While we read the menus, the waiter brought us a starter of hot cheesy pizza with small bits of fish and capers on it. We looked at the wine list -- select a Pieropan Soave 2005 Calvarina. The food here was fantastic. There were many seafood selections and we started with a zuppa di frutti di mare and a tortine di patate and porcini with a sauce of sweet prawns. Then I cannot resist – spaghetti alla vongole veraci. I was in garlic and clam heaven. DH went for a whole steamed Sicilian spiny lobster. It was surrounded by little ripe cherry tomatoes that were extra sweet and marinated red onions. There was a light tangy sweet dressing over all. The lobster is unbelievable – and huge. He followed up with his usual berries and crema. Caffe. Cost: 156 euros and worth every cent.
***Nabucco, via Fiori Chiari 10 (near Brera)
There are outdoor tables under a cover The waiter recommends a white wine from Sardinia -- 2005 Cantina del Vermentino. I started with a plate of grilled vegetables – eggplant, endive, red peppers, radicchio, tomato, zucchini. DH had prosciutto and melon. Then I had the dish I had been dreaming of since I saw it on Nabucco’s web site menu – their specialty, spaghetti chitarra con aragosta. “Square” spaghetti in a spicy fresh tomato sauce with garlic and a split lobster tail on top. DH had a trio of tortelli in different shapes – spinach & ricotta, beef & mushroom, and porcini & smoked mozzarella – in a sage and butter sauce. Pink panna cotta with strawberries. Caffe as a digestif. Cost: 112 euros.
Al Pont de Ferr, Ripa di Porta Ticinese 55 (Navigli)
Al Pont de Ferr is a Slow Foods pick. As soon as we enter, my internal alarm went off. No tablecloths. Paper napkins. Cheap stainless like at the school cafeteria. Menus in English. I asked for one in Italian. The dishes were not recognizable as Italian, much less Slow Food. Fois gras? Two amuse bouche came first – little ice cream wafer cones of smoked salmon mousse. Then a curried bread served with salted butter. The plate of cured meats that we shared for a starter was the only thing that resembled Italian food – prosciutto, coppa, and slices of a dark red sausage. I ordered a beef tartare which like carpaccio usually comes dressed with lemon, olive oil and parmigiano. This was four raw meatballs with a few drops of a balsamic glaze. It had no flavor. DH ordered a roasted pork with potatoes and onions. It was so-so. No dessert, no coffee. We leave, disappointed that our last meal in Milan was so bad. In retrospect, I think that the restaurant must have changed hands. Oh well…. Cost: 84 euros.