Milan, a haven for many things, stops short of labeling itself a food paradise since they do not boast a wide variety of dishes and the thoroughfare there consists of a hodge-podge of Italian cuisines from other cities. But like a true Italian nonna, they go for quality over quantity, taking the few dishes they call their own to their gastronomical nadir and ensuring that everything is made from the heart. So forget the pasta and pizzas, as we take you on a virtual food tour of Milan’s best.
The Argentinians have their empanadas; Singaporeans have their curry puffs, and the Milanesi are exceptionally proud of their panzerotti. These traditional pastry pockets are usually filled with tomato and mozzarella, but more adventurous fillings like spinach and ham are known to be used.
The empanadas are then oven-baked to semi-crisp consistency. A panzerotti is best eaten piping hot and in the face-stuffing company of the locals. For the best panzerotti in Milan, look no further than Luini, a famous bakery serving these delectable parcels of warm gooey goodness since 1949. Grab one to go and munch on as you soak up the sights in Milan.
Luini, Via Santa Radegonda, 16, 20121 Milano, Italy.
Flip through the menu of any restaurant in Milan and you’re sure to see the word ‘cotoletta’ jumping out at you. One of the cornerstones of Milanese cuisine, it is essentially a veal cutlet that is rolled flat, tossed in breadcrumbs, and fried in clarified butter. Like most Milanese cuisine, this version of the pork schnitzel may seem unassuming at first, but a well-executed cotoletta stays in both your stomach and your memory.
From the satisfying crunch when you first slice into it, right down to the fragrant morsels sliding down your throat, it is only then that you understand the fuss over this golden-brown cutlet. While this ubiquitous dish can be found from Michelin-starred restaurants to little local trattorias, we recommend Osteria Brunello’s take, with its face-sized offering that has just the right amount of breading.
Osteria Brunello, Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi, 117, 20121 Milano, Italy.
Risotto alla Milanese
Image credit | luxos.com
Risotto is not to everybody’s taste, but we reckon it is hard not to be moved by a plate of risotto alla Milanese. With its distinctive and striking colour derived from precious saffron, it is the great dame of classic Milanese food.
When cooked with heart, a good risotto should be rich and creamy while remaining al dente, and in Milan, the dish is so popular that it is hard to find a badly cooked version of it. At Ratana, we discovered that a plate of risotto alla Milanese is best washed down with a pint of prosecco. Talk about a good meal.
Ratana, Via Gaetano de Castillia, 28, 20124 Milano, Italy.
Ossobuco literally means “bone with a hole”, and is in reference to the holes of the bone marrow found in the cross-cut veal shanks – the primary ingredient of the dish. The people of Milan have ravenous appetites, and it is not uncommon to see ossobuco sharing the lunch plate atop a bed of risotto alla Milanese.
The result of the union of the two perennial classics is a delicious medley of big flavours and is a dish worth returning to Milan for. Located a street away from the Biblioteca Pinacoteca Accademia Ambrosiana, La Trattoria Milanese is a good joint to tuck into a tenderly-stewed ossobuco with saffron-laced risotto.
La Trattoria Milanese, Via Santa Marta, 11, 20123 Milano, Italy.
We know that gelato is a must-try not simply in Milan, but throughout the entire Italian peninsula. With gelaterias sprouting in almost every Italian city, big or small, there are no excuses for not indulging in it if you’re in Milan; you’ll find Italians wielding cones or digging into cups of this irresistible dessert at any time of the day.
With so many options to choose from and so little stomach real estate, check out Cioccolati Italiani, a stone’s throw from the Duomo and just opposite Luini. The long queue at the store (and the Milanesi usually don’t queue) is for their signature melted dark chocolate cone, a wicked confectionery that comprises of all things chocolate, from the base of rich, dark chocolate, to the drizzle of molten chocolate lava from their chocolate taps on top. If gelato is an unmissable food in Milan, then not trying Cioccolati’s gelato cone should be considered a cardinal sin.
Cioccolati Italiani, Via S. Raffaele, 4, 20121 Milano, Italy.