Ufff Italy is just another level. I just can’t even anymore. Before someone calls me for overreacting, let me start off with a simple example. I went to a standard restaurant and ordered beef tartare. Last time I had beef tartare, I was in Frankfurt, in a simple, yet great restaurant, and it was recommended by my German friends as a must-try. The tartare was in an open-faced sandwich bun, topped with chopped onions. Now – it was delicious as the meat tasted outstanding, but then I ordered something similar in Milan. The latter was served on a flatbread, topped with parmesan cheese, sweet and sour onion, dried cherry tomatoes, capers and on a side of honey mustard sauce.
Unfortunately, this review is a little biased, as Italian cuisine has been part of my life since I was a kid – so I warned you!
What we will handle today:
- what to eat
- food quality
Milan is part of the posh financial industry area of Italy, where a lot of people go to work in Switzerland and return back to enjoy life. Other than that, you know that for Italians, food solves everything. Say that you have a morning meeting – no need for the office, let’s have it with a caffe e cornetto on the bar downstairs. Need to figure out the basis of the business deal? Sure, let’s grab lunch somewhere and talk about it. Do you have something to discuss, or there is a problem to solve? Yes – let’s discuss it over dinner! It is easier to express yourself over some great 4-course meal and wine.
See? What else you need to know about the vibe?
What to eat.
First of all, like in all Italy, the morning starts with the very normal caffe e cornetto. You can go to whatever cafe that is open and ask for caffe e cornetto and you will be fine.
Second the traditions:
- The costoletta – which, in my opinion, is the bigger brother of the Schnitzel – done alla Italian aka just better
- The oosobucco – which is nothing else than a veal shank, but slow cooked. Usually, they just put it on top of a risotto plate, but contrary to popular belief, do not mix them – there is so much flavor in both that I would recommend to experience one at a time
- The risotto – Milan is very well known for the risotto’s, served with the oosobucco. They have a way of doing it and it is just amazing – especially the plates with the saffron very mild flavor and yellow tint.
- The panettone – some say that it was birthed in Milan, but I would focus on trying the custom made one of the small bakeries that have around them all year long.
- The Trippa – or tripe – which is basically a soup with a bunch of veggies, with simple boiled cow’s stomach. Now, some restaurants have it a special every once in a while – so if you see it, take it!
Third, the day to day stuff:
- The easy and local way to grab lunch is through a piadina. Whils’t in most of Italy, the panini’s are the key launchable’s, il milanesi prefer the piadina’s.
- Milan is very well known for their alta clase society and as such, cool dinner places and modern or innovative outtakes to classic food are to be expected. The Italian dining culture starts with the aperitivo’s, dinner and the digestivo’s. Usually the three are spread out into 2-3 locations. Expect a lot of small places, to grab drinks!
Note: I really do not need to rant on the pizza and pasta, right?
It is hard in Italy to get bad food – one of the key reasons being that most of the key ingredients are local. Let me put it this way: I was flying from Frankfurt, and I had my connecting flight in Milan. As it was a Friday night, I grabbed a quick sandwich in Frankfurt and then once in Milan I would evaluate the situation. I landed in Milan, and as traveling makes me hungry, and my connection was in a couple of hours, I thought to grab another sandwich – and here we are talking about the small sandwich shops near the gates in an airport. The difference in taste was night and day!
Generally speaking, cannot complain. The waiters are nice – and it helps as I speak a bit of Italian. Cards are accepted almost everywhere (I am not sure about American express though as it is not as popular in Europe).
Waiting times – are usually depending on the case. It is recommended to reserve beforehand. Eating is a big part of the day to day activities – as such expect people to explore!
I have never tried food delivery in Italy, let alone Milan. Italian food it to be enjoyed fresh, with a glass of wine and with people around – not in a plastic container – do not do this to yourself!
It’s Italy, and we are talking about food! What is there to discuss?
Bottom line: Milano is COOL.