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Sep 14, 2010 09:35 PM

Advice on a Few Restaurants in Milan

I will be traveling to Milan in early October with a companion before embarking on other legs of our journey. Unfortunately, after searching these boards, and looking elsewhere, I have not found extensive information or recommendations on restaurants in general in Milan, much less places that would appeal to me and my traveling companion. Most of the places seem like tourist traps, uninspired dumps or places serving up over priced (albeit fabulous-looking) haute-cuisine, seemingly without much of a Milanese identity.

I live in New York City, so I'm no stranger to great dining, or adventurous eating, however I'm looking for moderately priced places that aren't too fussy, yet strike a good balance between substance and style/atmosphere. I'd prefer places that would give one a good sense of Milanese/regional fare. Good wine lists are a big plus... So far the only places that I've found that seem somewhat appealing are:

Antico Albergo
Al Mercante
Cracco Peck

Any and all suggestions are welcome, as well as confirmation or commentary on the places that I've listed above. I look forward to hearing what anyone has to say!

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  1. I could extensively comment on your list and provide other suggestions but first of all, please make me understand what you mean by "moderately priced". I wouldn't define CRACCO PECK "moderately priced" - even for NY high-level standards - nor with a good sense of Milanese food...
    I could add that a good balance between substance and style/atmosphere + a good sense of Milanese/Regional fare + outstanding wine list is a very ambitious target. Which requirement are you willing to overlook?

    Irene (Milanese)

    11 Replies
    1. re: Irene65

      Quite obviously, Irene, there will have to be some concessions. If you read what I wrote, those restaurants I listed are "somewhat" appealing, meaning that one or more of the attributes I seek in a restaurant might not be satisfied by all in that list. So again, obviously there will be some outliers in that list regarding price, Milanese sensibilities, et cetera. I also wouldn't say that finding at least two restaurants with the attributes I seek is a target that is too ambitious. That being said, if you have any positive or negative comments regarding those restaurants or any favorites for that matter, feel free to comment.

      1. re: Tyranisone

        Let's take the first of the list.

        The ANTICO ALBERGO that I know is in Pioltello - Limito di Pioltello - to be precise - in the eastern outskirts of the Milan City. A gloomy industrial area. I had a business dinner there a few months ago. Due to the many large companies in the area, it seems to be very popular for executive business meals. Average food and wine, not awfully expensive, you make a good impression with your guests. The ambiance is what we would call "country chic".
        The service is kind but slow.
        The food, depending on season, can be regionally inspired: polenta, funghi, cotechino...
        Around 60 Euro without wine.
        Do I qualify to go on? :-)

        I am sorry if you get offended, but, again, from an Italian point of view your prospective list + your attributes do NOT match.


        1. re: Irene65

          Grazie, Irene. Good to know about Antico Albergo, as I cannot find too much information on the restaurant apart from its website(which looks fine). Good to know that it's sort of on the outskirts, too. I think I also liked the look of this place because the wine list well rounded and decently priced.

          As mentioned, I'm willing to overlook a thing or two I was looking for in restaurants, it really just depends on things over all. Again, please feel free to point out any positive or negative aspects of the places I listed. I do realize Cracco Peck is not really "Milanese" cooking, not is it moderately priced, but it seemed to come with high praises nevertheless.

          Thanks very much for your input. It is much appreciated. Perhaps I can return the favor should you need advice on restaurants in New York or Philadelphia at some point :)

          1. re: Tyranisone

            ZERO DUE
            You can download their monthly menu & prices and check the ambiance on the website.
            Please note the .com and the translated menu...
            Corso di Porta Ticinese is a fashionable/trendy area, worth a promenade, centrally located.

            I dined there and my personal comment is: “senza infamia e senza lode”. Without praise or blame (I hope the translation is correct). Nothing to do with authentic, classical, Milanese or regional food.
            I would also add, again forgive my literal translation, “a service without soul”.

            AL MERCANTE
            Do not miss Piazza Mercanti, a beautiful medieval corner near the frantic Duomo area.
            The Restaurant. I was there for a business lunch with Japanese guests, if you know what I mean...
            Again check their 360° menu, prices and ambiance. The service is professional.

            LA LATTERIA
            Uhh La Latteria... For a Milan-born LA LATTERIA will always mean the VECCHIA LATTERIA in Via Unione, 6 (near Duomo) not the one in Via San Marco (Brera).
            As a teenager and in my early twenties (I’ll be 45 next month) I spent quite a lot of time at Latteria.
            Nowadays they propose “bio- vegetarian” dishes – very good and reasonably priced – lunch only.
            A nostalgic old Milano corner.

            As for TRATTORIA LATTERIA SAN MARCO (Brera area).
            It’s ok. Small, family run, reasonably priced, they do not accept reservations. Even if it is a local hit (would you say like that?), it is becoming more and more touristy – especially for dinner - and I would say that the quality worsened.
            The ambiance...
            Again, not exactly authentic, classical, Milanese food.

            CRACCO PECK or CRACCO
            I dined there so I speak from experience. I am part of a food fanatic band of friends and we all pay the utmost attention to every detail regarding food & wine, starting from the choice of the best, top quality genuine ingredients for our home cooked meals. So how could we miss the celebrated CRACCO? :-
            )Let’s put it this way: if I shall invest again that amount of money, I would dine again at OSTERIA FRANCESCANA, to name one, (it is in Modena, not in Milan) not at Cracco’s.

            I will prepare you a list of personal/different suggestions for Milano.
            A Philadelphia insight and an improvement of our NY restaurant portfolio will be much appreciated thanks.


            1. re: Tyranisone


              Yes, Jan, this could be a good suggestion for reasonably priced Milanese/Regional food.
              My father still remembers the old one – which was run by legendary Mario and unquestionably genuine - but we are talking about many, many years ago!
              Simple homey ambiance, friendly service.
              Minus: they do not have a balanced and steady quality level: sometimes good, sometimes disappointing (for a native palate ).

              Via Montevideo (Porta Genova area/Navigli).
              A small place with a big chimney.
              Honest Milanese and Regional fare.
              You’ll find the “Cotoletta alla Milanese con l’osso” (with bone).
              Around 35 without wine.
              Minus: service and closing time 11pm.

              Yes, I do agree with Fred Plotkin... wow!
              See my previous post for gregoryclaude and try to go, at least for one Risotto.

              Via delle Forze Armate (to geo-localize: in the western outskirts of Milano city, Baggio)
              This is a real OSTERIA. Good regional fare: brasato, fried frogs, risotto, cassoeula, cotoletta...
              Around 30 Euro without wine.
              Minus. wine list.

              Keep in mind it is not centrally located and there is nothing remarkable around, but it is a green light place for a lunch (very crowded) or for a dinner. It is a big place, which usually doesn’t speak in one restaurant’s favour. They are very careful about the choice of the ingredients, do not miss their hand-made filled pasta (tortelli). Around 35 Euro, without wine. Regional dishes.

              Via Farini (north of Milan, nothing fancy around)

              A tiny working-class place (no snobbism, I love it) and the best pizza al trancio in Milano. You can also find fiorentina cooked in the wooden oven, cotoletta, fried mozzarella & zucchini, farinata di ceci...
              Ridiculous tab.

              ZUCCA E MELONE
              Via Gian Giacomo Mora

              It’s a brand new nice place. You’ll find a mix of Lombadia, Emilia Romagna and Piedmont.
     for a closer investigation. Honest good food.

              AL BACCO
              I would define it “senza infamia e senza lode”, Jan. Keep in mind that it is located near a big movie theatre.

              LA PIOLA
              No, definitely not. Who is recommending it? Plotkin?

              OSTERIA DEL TRENO
              No, and if my inadequate English assists me, I will try to explain you why. One thing is using good territory genuine ingredients – and they do - Slow Food Praesidium blah blah – another is creating successful (good) dishes with them...and I would also have much to say about the service.

              TUSCANY in Milano
              I would give a try to
              Via Fatebenefratelli

              Good food, plainly. No ambiance. Around 35 Euro without wine.

              ABRUZZO in Milano
              Via Rosolino Pilo (near Porta Venezia


              Should you venture, stick to the Abruzzese dishes (arrosticini, maccheroni alla chitarra, agnello alla scottadito).
              This is a real TRATTORIA: ruffled (?), red and white checkered tablecloths, the “orchestrina” coming in to collect a few coins and a friendly service.
              Around 25 Euro, without wine.

              It is enough, I guess.
              Next episode: Irene’s choice for higher level, stylish and so on.

              1. re: Irene65

                what a terrific contribution Irene -looking forward eagerly for the continuation!

                1. re: jen kalb

                  Thanks, Jen!
                  I have just discovered this website.
                  By the way, what does the "FWIW" in your posts stand for?

                2. re: Irene65

                  Fantastic list of personaly picks. I look forward to the next installment! This is all very helpful.

                    1. re: Tyranisone

                      Ty writes:
                      “Most of the places seem like tourist traps – THEY DO NOT SEEM, THEY ARE - uninspired dumps – TOO MANY - or places serving up over priced – YES, OF COURSE - (albeit fabulous-looking) – BUT SOMETIMES FABULOUS TASTING - haute-cuisine, seemingly without much of a Milanese identity.”

                      One thing that I would like to explain is that in Milan, you don’t really need to swap a cool or trendy place for a mediocre meal.
                      The APERITIVO ritual was invented to satisfy every possible human need in terms of ambiance and social visibility, without dissipating a fortune. After the aperitivo, you can have dinner in a “food inspired” place.
                      You can choose your place from

                      But if it is distinction – fabulous looking AND TASTING haute cuisine + ambiance - you are looking for, that will come at a price, as everywhere in the world and Milan is no exception.

                      My top level picks for food/wine/style:

                      Andrea Berton’s TRUSSARDI ALLA SCALA
                      Possibly à la carte

                      IL LUOGO DI AIMO E NADIA
                      Menu Degustazione or à la carte

                      CHARLIE 1983
                      Menu Degustazione or à la carte
                      UNFORTUNATELY it is in ALBAIRATE, west of Milan; let’s say 30 km from Piazza del Duomo.

                      In the previous picks I forgot:

                      Sardinia in Milan
                      LATTERIA MAFFUCCI
                      Via Angiolo Maffucci (north of Milan, Bovisa area


                      Small, but welcoming place, family run, mainly fish.
                      It is a sort of fixed menu, no carte.
                      Around 40/50 Euro depending on the wine.



                      According to my PERSONAL judgment – no offence, please: overpriced, over rated, snobbish.

                      NICOLA CAVALLARO
                      Fish. Yes, a lot better. Navigli area.

                      Again, yes. Innovative. Not centrally located, east of Milan.

                      Ciao New York

                      1. re: Irene65

                        Thanks Irene for your post, nice one! - last weekend I was in Milan with three friends. We visited Trattoria All' Antica, with a very simple but good rustic taste (and nice service...), Trussardi alla Scala, which was a good and often tasty experience (and great wine list!), Trattoria Abele, with indeed a nice risotto (though Muramare's in Verona still tops my list), and probably the nicest lunch, at Manna! So soulfully full of taste, original/creative, very well prepared - this is very much what food in my book should be!

          2. I do not know the restaurant you mentioned except for Cracco and I would not define it a moderately priced restaurant.
            I go to Milan fairly often and my fav restaurants are Alice, Sempione 42, Cavallaro, Manna, La Brisa and lately I was suggested to go to Liberty. You can find further info googling the names up.

            1 Reply
            1. re: cristinab

              Thanks Cristinab. I'll definitely check those out. Very helpful...

            2. the current slowfood recommendations for Milan are the following - I would venture to say that the price constraints for slowfood (35 E tops for a meal without wine) may be on the low end for Milan - a couple of former choices, Latteria San Marco and Trattoria Milanese (both still recc by Gambero Rosso however) have fallen off the list (maybe for higher prices) : they might be worth looking into further (Google using name of restaurant and italian name of city, i.e. Milano can provide a lot of info in their google maps place page):Acquabella, Al Bacco, Bottiglieria da Pino,Da Mirta, L'Osteria del Treno,Martin Pescatore, Osteria Alla Grande,Osteria Grand Hotel, Ponte Rosso, Sauris & Borg da Bria, Tagiura, Trattoria del Pescatore.

              Plotkin recommends Trattoria da Abele (also recc by Gambero Rosso ), L'Osteria del Treno (GR), Latteria San Marco (GR),La Piola, Battigliera del Pino (cheap tratt for lunch), Joia (creative veg and fish discussed recently and not favorably on another thread), Ristorante Piera & Pino (Lombardy and Emilia), Oste Del Teatro (Friulian),Alla Collina Pistoiese, Al Merluzzo Felice (sicilian, fish), Alle Cucina delle Langhe (a media hangout)

              A partial list of the Gambero Rosso LowCost picks have been input on the Restaurant page for Milan and might be worth a look but its just a partial list so far.
              Antio Albergo, ZeroDue and Al Mercante are not listed in the current Gambero Rosso FWIW.

              2 Replies
              1. re: jen kalb

                Great list of recommendations, Jen. Thanks for the input!

                1. re: Tyranisone

                  I wish they were personal, but thought you might like some Italian sources of recommendations to throw into the mix. Approaching a big city like Milan can be confusing - not everyone wants to start at the same place in their research, or forcus solely on say unpretentious terroir type restaurants (well I do) but if you want to try the local cuisine, one way is to start with the places recommende by locals.

              2. Cracco (no longer Cracco-Peck) is high priced but well worth it. They have a spectacular collection of fine wines much of it available by the glass. The best dishes were ones chosen a la carte.

                1. What kind of style are you looking for? Irene has pointed you to some more stylish places, especially Sempione 42 and Liberty. I would concur with these recommendations. Here are a couple of choices that aren't fussy and are solid representations of Lombard cooking but I don't know that they have any "style" so to speak except for homestyle.

                  Trattoria Degli Orti, which I've posted about before is a really great neighborhood place a bit off the beaten path. They have all the Milanese classics and a good homey feeling. I always drink the house wine which is borderline but there are some interesting bottles available.

                  Other place which is kind of far afield for me but really nice is Osteria Dell' Arte. Its address is Piazza Miani 2 south of the center. I would describe this place as intimate and traditional. They give a tweak to the classics where Trattoria Degli Orti is not reconstructed at all. Had a really great dish with chestnut flour pasta and eggplant.

                  I think Latteria di San Marco has been beat to death but here goes: I've eaten there four times over the past three or four years. I've liked it a bit less each time. I don't think the food has really changed that much but its simplicity and lack of adornment is no longer so appealing. The atmosphere is like sitting in your mom's aunt's kitchen. They only serve house wine. It's probably not in slow food any more due to price. I think slow food sets a ceiling of about 35 euro per diner. I usually come out north of that number.

                  As a side note to Irene and something to research for yourself. Have you ever tried D'O? I have never been there so I can't recommend it but the chef, Davide Oldani seems well noted. The restaurant is a bit on the periphery of Milan but it might be right up your alley.