Since I get 498567 queries a day about “Heyyy I’m going to Milan for some days, since you lived there you tell me some awesome places to get actual Italian food”, I figured it would be much more efficient to write down all the recommendations (spoiler: I think it’s hard to find “proper Italian food” in Milan, as you’re better off going to small towns for that, but I’ll do my best in here) in a place I can point everyone to. So, here we are.
This is intended to be a living document, so if you have any suggestions/corrections, just bother me here, or open a Pull Request, and we’ll fix it.
Note: the following sections are in no particular order, just pick some or read through all of them.
Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with any of this places (yet. I mean if you want me to sponsor your place let’s talk, but if you have good stuff I’ll happily send people your way anyways), all of this is just unconditional love for the good food.
I mean, of course. This is the first thing you want to do when you get in the city 🍕.
- So, the best pizza in town in my opinion is Pizza Am. Their selection is really limited (I think they have margherita and a couple more pizzas), but a good margherita is the only thing you actually need and want, so this is good.
- If you’re around Città Studi (probably the area I know best, since I spent there most of the time) there is also a fairly good and affordable pizzeria: Il Postino. The selection is perfect, not too many, and all fairly “traditional”.
I like breweries I guess. And I think Milan is a good place for this kind of “frank” (as in no-bullshit) but really well-designed breweries (something about the city being a capital of design but also a really practical place where people do things, but I digress). So here’s my favorites:
- Near the Central Railway Station there is Baladin. Really good beer (if you’re into open source you have to get an Open, which is, well, open source), really good burgers and salads and meat dishes, 10/10. That area is also super nice to walk in, as it’s quickly becoming the downtown. In the area there is really nice buildings, a notable one is Bosco Verticale, look around for it. And there is also a very nice Neapolitan coffee place nearby.
- My other favorite is Birrificio Lambrate. There is two of them, so you want to go to the big one if you want to have lunch/dinner, and to the smaller but older one for a more authentic brewery experience (they brew just next door, so it’s truly a 0km product). Amazing beer (my usual picks: Domm (weizen) and St.Ambroeus (golden ale)) and amazing food, 10/10.
- Japanese: Milan totally loves sushi (or it might be my bubble. But there is really many sushi places, so someone must go there). The best sushi in town to my knowledge is Poporoya. It’s a truly old Japanese shop, really small (like, 15 seats?), with a no-reservations policy and of course always super crowded, so probably best to avoid peak time (12am). But the stuff is really good, and service is fast. For a fancier and less crowded setting, there is the “cousin” restaurant just in front, Shiro Poporoya.
- Kebab: living in Helsinki I often complain about how hard (if not impossible) it is to get good kebab here. Fortunately in Milan we don’t have this problem, there is a lot of places, and the kebab is usually good everywhere. If you’re around Città Studi, go to Le Piramidi and send my greetings to Luca.
- Panzerotti: if you don’t know what a panzerotto is: make a small calzone, and then deep fry. Yes it’s reeally good. It’s commonly known that the best ones in town are from Luini. Just get the classic ones, like margherita or salame. Be careful about when you go there, as in lunch rush hour (12-13) the queue could be several tens of meters long.
- Fish: they say that in Milan you get the freshest fish in Italy (while this might be a bit of an exaggeration, the fish is usually really fresh. Read the previous link for reasons why. Works well with GTranslate), so I would be neglecting something if I didn’t mention any fish places (I know, sushi is fish, but bear with me here). I really like Il Pescetto: trendy, quick, and good selection of fish and preparations.
As in, “ok but where do people hang out?”. So I guess I’m going to send you to Navigli. Long story short even though there was not supposed to be any river going through the city, some Reinassaince big guy wanted Leonardo Da Vinci to build some channels to connnect the city to the sea (they actually started much before that, but it’s an easy story to tell). Fast-forward some centuries and we don’t need direct sea connection anymore, but we can reuse these nice channels to host a big population of mosquitoes and hang out and feel like in Amsterdam.
What to do there?
Milan is totally the capital of aperitivo. The concept is like “you go to a bar around 18-19 with friends, get a Spritz, and have some finger food in the meanwhile”. In practice things got a bit out of hand, and some places now serve a pantagruelian delicious buffet, so it’s easy to have dinner there. Here’s a slightly informative article about it.
A nice place with a high concentration of aperitivo places is Naviglio Grande. You can pick a place in advance, but if you don’t, there will be some people tring to get you into some place (I don’t know, a place I went often was this one, but TripAdvisor might have better suggestions than me on this), but since the competition in the area is high, almost any place is going to be ok.
So you’ve eaten, or maybe not, and want to stay in the area to get drinks. Worry no more:
- Cocktails: I really liked Ginger Cocktail Lab on Naviglio Pavese, and they apparently have also aperitivo. At this point I have to mention also the Nottingham Forest, as it’s THE place for cocktails in Milan. Unfortunately I never managed to get in there (it’s REALLY crowded all the time), so you’ll have to figure out. They say it’s really good.
- Beer: the awesome BQ will satisfy any craft beer nerd. It’s good. See also the breweries section in case you missed that.
- Wine: there is a bunch of nice small wineries with affordable prices (I mean, you have to fit the style) around the area, e.g. this one and this one.
But…how about..the shopping?
Right. You want to go either to Corso Vittorio Emanuele II or Corso Buenos Aires. If you’re into fashion, I assume you already know about Via Monte Napoleone. If you’re not, it’s still worth it to go there just for the laughs.
Actually, how about strolling around
If you read up to this point, it could be that you are interested in just strolling around the city and seeing monuments and nice things and stuff. I like walking around the city, so I can advise some nice targeted and landmarks-intense paths:
- Duomo-Navigli: Starting from Duomo, go through Via Torino (some amount of nice shops, hidden art, etc.), Colonnne, Porta Ticinese, and then stroll both Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese (be careful that they are not parallel).
- Duomo-Brera-Garibaldi: Starting from Duomo, visit the Galleria, you cannot miss La Scala, and then proceed to Brera: you might be interested in the Pinacoteca and Orto Botanico. Then go towards Moscova, have a cannolo and a coffee somewhere, and proceed to Porta Garibaldi. You then want to go through Corso Como (a really trendy place for some reason), and finally Piazza Gae Aulenti. Have an ice cream there.
- Sempione: Starting from..yes Duomo, get to Castello. Cross that, and you get to Parco Sempione. It’s the biggest park of the center, and it’s very nice to chill in there for a while. If you cross it entirely, you get to Arco della Pace, and end up in Corso Sempione, which is also full of nice places to have aperitivo.
Buon appetito! 😎