The food scene in Milan is just as fresh as the runways if not more. International street food has hit the streets, traditional dishes and places remain authentic, and newcomers are widely welcome all fitting together like a perfect puzzle.
Milan offers the opportunity to experience not only outstanding traditional Italian dishes but also the opportunity to go beyond Italian boarders with a booming international food scene that extends from Mexican, Russian, and beyond. So, Milan’s food scene has remained embedded in my mind and the memories excite each and every tastebud. The ball game is changing in Milan, and we have never been more ready.I found myself in Milan to attend the @italianfoodacademy for a master in gastronomic criticism and writing as I moved back from NYC. Still confused and stunned on how to adjust to a slower pace life Milan seemed noisy enough. Well, anything food related persuades me anyways.
During the course we had great opportunities to try different great Italian dishes and for my biggest surprise a food trip in Via Paolo Sarpi, to explore Milan’s booming international neighbourhood known as Chinatown. Funny story is that I booked my stay for the duration of the course exactly on that street so that I could experience a different energy within an Italian city, definitely my favourite place to stay. I wrote a separate article for the street food at Via Paolo Sarpi as it truly needs its own attention where you can read at this link Milan’s best street food Via Paolo Sarpi. I am definitely not a professional food critic as the beauty in opinions lay in how subjective they are and should always be taken with a grain of objectivity. All I can say is that there is something changing in Milan’s air and it smells delish! Keep an eye out for the ever-evolving Milan food scene.
The eating and mind blowing went something like this:
1. Not just breakfast da Gelsomina in the quiet neighbourhood of Porta Vittoria
@Gelsomina_pasticceria has such a peaceful aesthetic as it reminds me a bit of Puglia for the prickly pears exposed, a coffee shop in Williamsburg Brooklyn for its urban vibe and teatime in London all in one place leaving you surprised and positively confused. All the desserts are artisanal, and they hit you all at once, right at the entrance where the world of @Gelsomina_pasticceria is displayed. Everything will catch your eye and to be honest they are even too cute to eat. If you do not have a sweet tooth there is a full menu of savoury items even pasta! You can have it all here. I am a hardcore Pistachio fan, so I stay true to my tribe and levitated for a moment. This is such a tranquil place during the week especially if you work from home it is the perfect place to get out of the house and feel inspired. There are two floors all with intimate corners that spark inspiration and serenity. Enjoy Gelsomina under the prickly pears while reading a book and you will be provided with the summer essence you are longing for.
2. Never pass on Mexican food and Mezcal and sway it off at Canteen Group
Yes, I am always on the hunt for good Mexican food as I stubbornly miss every taco truck I have ever tried. While I am sure I must wait much longer for a taco truck in Italy I will be grateful for the Mexican I have already tried. Design on point is the first impact. I mean pictures from David Bowie to Frida Kahlo. A super energetic atmosphere dark and mysterious, a TEQUILA bar, and if you happen to go on a weekend a DJ later on in the background. A great Mexican place will always have Al Pastor Tacos in my opinion and there is nothing I love more, well authentic Barbacoa is right up there. I say this because meat and pineapple together still scares so many humans who don’t realise that they could be missing out on their next love affair. I will always encourage (make) those who dine with me try Al Pastor. The same goes if you try a Mezcal Margarita then tequila speaks a little less to you, don’t get me wrong long live tequila and all the “good” choices that come from it, but Mezcal that smokiness just has my heart and soul. Also I realised that hangovers are less invasive with Mezcal, just a side note for you. The menu has lots of classics from Fajita’s, to Burrito’s, and even Heuvo Rancheros. Top off your dinner with some Churros the Mexican dessert of desserts. This place is a bit on the pricey side once you know how outstanding street tacos are but this is more of an experience in itself wrapped in Mezcal. Totally approve the @canteengroup.
3. Take a taxi or whatever lift you can find and make it to Al Gharget just outside Milan
Let me repeat that for you, please find a way to make it here as you will always be thankful for this day. I can’t emphasise on trying this place enough it is a classic Milanese staple where you will catch the locals on long tables enjoying family time and fabulous generous portions of traditional goodness. Here you can try the real Milanese dishes like the famous Cotoletta alla Milanese and Risotto alla Milanese with Ossobuco to name a few. The food is homey its the only adjective that states the experience. Your eyes will continue to wonder around to analyse what others order because you just can’t have enough. You know when you want to make sure you ordered the best on the menu that desperate feeling, the anticipation, the I want it all. It’s a current vibe here. The menu is handwritten in Lombardian slang and the design of the place recalls a British country house. It is beyond cozy. If you want a traditional raw experience firstly book in advance, this place is in every Milanese heart, and take the journey all the way to the outskirts. Make this the first story you will tell your friends and family and who knows maybe even host a family reunion at @algharget one day too.
4. Dine inside La Galleria del Corso at the renowned Langosteria Café
Don’t let the fact that this place sounds like a Café mislead you because it is quite the dinner scene in Milan giving fine dining an approachable experience. That is the philosophy of the owner Enrico Buonocore, to provide and authentic Italian experience with an approachable international atmosphere. Something new and exciting that focuses on providing a full experience from the main entrance to after dinner digestives around the bar. Enrico has been able to open five different locations for @Langosteria since his first opening in 2007. So, if this place triggered something profound within you go ahead and full on @Langosteria. I tried my first Oriecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Mussels here. A match that if I think about only today, just as important as salt and pepper. Start with a few “Crudi” which means raw in Italian but also called “Carpaccio” but easier explained as sashimi just to get the picture. Of course if you’re not into raw the menu is loaded with intriguing fusion items. When it comes to eating extremely fresh raw fish the focus is all about enhancing smoothly the flavour. How balanced is it ? Is the dressing spot on, delicate enough, citrusy enough? If you are receiving positive shocks of endorphins to the brain you know how precious that moment is. I will end this story here as I take a moment to reminisce all the “scarpetta” ( the noble Italian way of cleaning plates with bread) made on that evening. A whole hearted 365 degree experience at @Langosteria. Bravo Enrico and Grazie!!
5. As the hungry Neapolitan I am I honoured my territory and had lunch at Crisipaccio
There are certain things that Neapolitans cannot live without Cosimo the owner states approaching the table. Yes I know you may be thinking it is pizza and pasta and you are completely right. However, it is what pasta and what pizza we can’t live without and the rituals that make us who we are that are important to talk about. Ziti alla Genovese is a great example. This pasta has such a misleading name as one would think that this dish originated in Genova (the very north of Italy) but it is a real Neapolitan traditional dish. To make this pasta you need about 1 kilo of onions and the right cut of beef. Sounds simple but the procedure is extensive and offers a particular pungent onion fragrance during the process. My grandmother loves this dish, but she invested in a small electric stove top and cooks it outside the terrace, imagine once again the onions… This is the smell of most childhoods in this area so the need for a Genovese is genetic. What better way to eat a Genovese when all the hard work is done and served to you with Cosimo’s infectious smile? Don’t forget to try the Eggplant Parmesan as a side. There is no better pairing in this world than fresh bread and Eggplant Parmesan. For me the true essence of real comfort food. When you finish your meal enjoy a real Neapolitan espresso from the owner Cosimo’s personal mocha.
6. Milano has a freaking speakeasy called 1930 Speakeasy
America 1930’s the prohibition era where underground drinking was the best kept secret. This bar is a vortex in time. You can find the most classic and iconic cocktails and a selection of everything else your mind can think of. Everything is vintage from the waiter’s uniform to the choice of lamps and glasses. it is quite a trip to say the least. This must be one of the most beautiful speakeasy’s I have ever seen. Speaking with the bartenders who I must say, out of this world knowledgeable about the cocktail list and more. I ordered my Mezcal margarita served straight up with a secret twist of the bartender. I could have had so many more of those as I was feeling on a movie set and charmed by everything I could lay my eyes on. This place is not easy to find nor to have access too as you have to be some sort of member there is so little information about it. I sweet talked myself in but I would recommend to message, email and obtain a pass and ask around. If not go old school and smile at the entrance with your fingers crossed. No pictures are allowed and I kind of respected the rules.
7. Life is not complete without fried food and stuffed cheese at Mini Gourmet
On any sunny day make your way to have a beautiful lunch at @mimi_gourmet . I just went for a light snack that was not even close to light. However, they also serve large raw fish plateaux for around 40 euros and many other main dishes. The place is so humble only outdoor dining with little attention to detail. You are the service. Pretty much get up order and sort yourself out. It is a place where you have a pit stop for delicious food and off you go about your day. Tell me a bad story that ever started with fried food. Now stuff some dough with creamy cheese and truffle paste. Now how would you like to start your day?
8. If you need a pick me up after the fried food have a good espresso and an interior design moment Da Otto
If a modern café is what you are looking for than @sarpiotto is the place for you. This place is not only on my favourite street in Milan, good old Via Paolo Sarpi, but its an all in one place where you can have a gourmet breakfast, an avocado toast for lunch and later on hang out with a crowd for an aperitif. The design is extremely warm its like being out but at home at the same time. I experienced the three way to be at Otto and each one is amusing in its own way. With indoor seating and a large outdoor space this place has every intention to meet all of your needs. See ya at Otto’s for sure .
9. Milan’s aperitif culture is the free dinner you never thought you needed try Deus Cafe Ex Machina for example
Let’s quickly address the aperitif culture in Italy. This is the ritual before dinner, sometimes even before lunch, you have a drink in a bar and are given some snacks. At some point in Milan and I am sure in many other places in Italy the snacks became buffets. You know what happens around buffets the sneaky eater in you is ready to get down and dirty. With that said after a heavy aperitif after a while you are not hungry but just as thirsty as when you first started. So the cycle continues once again. Milan is full of amazing places to try the aperitif culture so with time I will address all the best ones as my next mission is to discover exactly that. I adventured into Isola an up and coming neighbourhood in Milan very hippy and urban, it reminded me a bit of Williamsburg NY. In this neighbourhood you are still in the city but you don’t feel like it but everything around you is very urban, if that makes sense. Thanks to my local bestie @_suzykdn I was chaperoned around the neighbourhood and taken to the aperitif in the clothing shop café @deusportal. You walk into this beautiful terrace with outdoor seating and on one end you have the store and on the other a lovely bar situation with the desirable buffet. If You find yourself exploring the fun neighbourhood of Isola make sure to cheers at this amazing spot with a refreshing Hugo: Prosecco, St Germain with Lemon juice and Mint. Saluteee!
I would love to thank again my best friend @_suzykdn for being the local that I needed. My free time was not much due to the course and my lunches full of panini’s but Milan is close by and I will be there in hopefully no time. For more close ups of my experience in Milan you can find them under the highlights on my Instagram page. If you would like more information or my list of places to try in Milan that is getting longer by the days, please feel free to reach out and I will be more than happy to share it with you. Thank you for reading until this point it means the world to me.
Ciao for now,