Milanese food is sometimes called ‘the golden cuisine’ due to the preponderance of the colour in many of its dishes, such as Polenta, Risotto Milanese (with saffron), and Cotoletta alla Milanese (apparently stolen by the Austrians who renamed it Wiener Schnitzel). Fast food is popular, as you would expect in a city with no time to waste.
Here are some of my favourite places near the Starhotel Ritz, which is off via Buenos Aires (shopping street similar to Oxford St) between Statzione Centrale and Porta Venezia:
L’Angolo D’Abruzzo da Giannino (Intemediate A), 20 via R.Pilo (left out of hotel, cross the tracks and turn left along via Giovanna, take the 20 degree right when you get to Piazza VIII Nov 1917, 10 mins max), Tel. 02 29406526, 3929871505. Closed Monday. GEM ALERT!
A very popular place (book ahead or wait for up to an hour!) that specialises in food from Abruzzo, central Italy. Specialities are grilled Scamorza cheese, roast lamb and potatoes and Arrosticini (small pieces of lamb grilled on a skewer). I had Sagne e Fagioli ‘all Abruzzese (B+), a bean soup with pieces of pancetta and diamond shaped pasta, which can be seasoned with parmesan and chilli oil, followed by the Grigliata Mista of scamorza, salsiccia, arrosticini, lamb steak and lonza (A/B). The house red is very drinkable and only €3 euro a quartino. To start the antipasti misto of ham and cheeses would feed a small army. First courses start at €8, second courses are €9-12, much better value than other restaurants in the area.
Maruzella (Intermediate A), 3 Piazza Oberdan (opposite Porta Venezia), Tel. 02 29525729/29516418, lunch 12-2.30, dinner 7-11.30, closed Wednesdays.
This is my every day favourite, but unfortunately it’s everyone else’s favourite too so you would do well to book ahead to shorten your waiting time. I once waited 20 mins on a Tuesday night but the people after me waited for an hour! It’s popular because they have got everything right, great food at a reasonable price, nice ambience and highly efficient waiters who won’t hurry you even if there are twenty people waiting for your table. Pizzas are 4-8 euro, first courses 7-8 euro and seconds 12-20 euro. Digestivos come in double measures for only 3 euro; try the Grappa di Cabernet, matured in wooden barrels.
If you can’t get in at Maruzella, just turn the corner onto Via Tadino (parallel to via Buenos Aires) which has several ethnic restaurants including Mongolian, Japanese, Argentinean and African options.
New Delhi (Intermediate A), 1 via Tadino, Tel. 02 29536448
Delicious curries at reasonable prices for when you tire of Italian food. When I went, the friendly owner gave the ladies in our party a free scarf as a parting gift and the blokes got a packet of hand-rolled Indian cigarettes. A great deal all round.
Tipica Osteria Pugilese (Intermediate B), 5 via Tadino, Tel. 02 29522574
Large Puglian restaurant with a great ambience, framed photos of the owner with various celebrities cover the high walls. Slightly expensive with pasta courses in double figures but everything we had was good. Closed Sundays.
Azzurra Grill (Intermediate B/C), 11 via San Gregorio, left out of the hotel, first right, straight over Buenos Aires, second corner on the left Tel 02 29406115
Probably the nearest decent place near the hotel and very popular. I have eaten very well here in the past but sadly it was rather lacklustre on my last visit, perhaps avoid the seafood (their speciality!), stick to meat and ask for white wine to be chilled. The antipasti buffet is extensive and imaginative however, lots of choice for veggies.
Cavallini (Advanced A), via Mauro Macchi (near Statzione Centrale).
A bit trad (since 1937) and pricey but serves classic Milanese dishes very well. There is a large courtyard garden out back which made it for me. Service is exemplary and English-speaking.
The internet place at 11 Via Tunisia opens at 9am, rather than 10am like the Western Union office a couple of doors down (No. 7?). Both are much cheaper (1 euro for 15 mins) than the extortionate Ritz.
Last updated October ’09.