Milan – eating, drinking, shopping and staying around Porta Garibaldi

The neighbourhood Porta Garibaldi is in Zone Nine, just to the south west of Stazione Centrale. My employer bases us here for logistical reasons, because of its proximity to the main station and Milano Porta Garibaldi, another important train station.

You’ll find everywhere mentioned on my Google map.

Temakinho (Intermediate B+), 59 Corso Garibaldi,

Temakinho was the it-restaurant in Milan when I visited in October 2020. It’s a Brazilian temaki bar, serving sushi rolls, poke bowls and a range of Caipirinha cocktails, which is so popular that there are now six branches around the city. This is the original branch in Brera, an entertainments district between Porta Garibaldi and the Centro Storico, known for its elegant bars and restaurants.

I started with a Hawaian Poke bowl with salmon, avocado, mango, wakame seaweed, edamame beans, sesame seeds and chives in vinegared rice alongside a Flor de Rosa Caipirinha with cachacha, lime, refined sugar, rose ‘dressing’ and ice perfumed with damascene rose petals.

These were my favourite dish and drink of the night (both A), but unfortunately weren’t substantial enough to satisfy me, so I had to order more…

Second up was the ‘Pianero’, a Californian- style maki roll with seared salmon, avocado, chives, and flying fish eggs with a Maracuja (passion fruit) ‘Caipifruta’, both good (B+).

For the third and final round I had the deep-fried panko-coated maki with salmon, Philadelphia cream cheese and shrimp with teriyaki sauce, alongside a Mango & Rose Peppercorn Caipifruta, both of which were nice enough (B).

This particular branch gets slated for its service on Tripadvisor but I found the waiters to be polite and friendly although overstretched once it got busy. Once the restaurant filled up, it started to take a while to order and receive extras. I’m not surprised that the kitchen gets overloaded though given the amount of takeout they do. There was a small army of Deliveroo drivers outside waiting for their orders to be filled, but this was during the Covid period so it might be different when normality returns.

This next place is a classic old-school restaurant…

Antica Trattoria della Pesa (Advanced A-), 10 Viale Pasubio,

I’ve been to this restaurant twice, in 2013 and 2020. I was amused to find that it hadn’t changed in the slightest during the seven year gap, from the beautiful old wooden interior with its lace curtains and wood-burning stove to the same miserable waiter (the guy with the glasses) who clearly hates tourists (foreigners?) and really didn’t want to let me in. After my usual friendliness onslaught however, he had no choice but to give me a table. Happily I was served by a different younger, friendlier waiter although I was still eyed suspiciously by the old guys on the next table who looked like they were planning a bank job. And northerners wonder why they have a rep for being unfriendly…

Back in 2013 I went with three colleagues. Between us we spent €200 of which €64 was down to me. The others were a bit disappointed with their asparagus first courses but were happier with their seconds (fusilli in tomato sauce and risotto with minced beef wrapped in cabbage leaves). I was over the moon with my choices though. I started off with an Insalata Caprese, made with the creamiest mozzarella and fantastic full-flavoured tomatoes (A).

For my second course, both times, I had the Ossobucco; cuts of veal shank braised in a broth with vegetables and white wine and broth, a specialty of Lombard cuisine. I had it with the traditional serving of Risotto alla Milanese, made with beef stock, bone marrow, lard rather than butter), Parmesan cheese and saffron. The first time the combo scored A+ but the second only B+ as it was a little oversalted.

In 2013 we shared two bottles of house wine (no carafes here), with white following by red. The first was a refreshingly subtle Tuscan Chardonnay (Ruffino–Libaio 2012) and the second a Vendemmia called Quadrio by Niuo Negri. Both cost around €20 each and scored highly (B+).

I’m guessing the bad attitude towards strangers flow from the proprietoress who was also unsmiling and unfriendly on both occasions. So would I go back a third time? Probably not, as I intend to find somewhere that does a better Ossobucco. However, if you’re after competent home cooking rather than gastronomic fantasies, then I do recommend this place.

For drinks, there is a little strip of bars along the bottom part of Corso Garibaldi…

El Carnicero (High Intermediate B), 108 Corso Garibaldi,

I’m a Negroni man so this place attracted me for its wide range of red vermouths. I had the local Carlo Alberto which was a new one for me (B).

Although it’s a bit of a glitzy place the staff who served me were friendly and efficient. They serve food (Spanish influenced) and have an outdoor terrace.

There are heaps of other restaurants in the area of course. For my work colleagues an easy option for food would be Cinghale Rosso at 6 Viale Monte Grappa, on the same block as the Hotel NH Porta Nuova, down a side street. Although I didn’t have time to go myself, I’m told the menu looks very interesting and the owner was flexible enough to do smaller portions so more dishes could be sampled.

There are lots of good shops in the area too (Corso Como is another fashion hub outside the centre).

The local branch of Eataly is here, Eataly Milano Smeraldo at 10 Piazza Venticinque Aprile. It’s a great place to pick up ingredients to take home.

A fantastic enoteca is Enoteca Cotti at 42 Via Solferino, which has a huge selection of wines and spirits. It’s a fun experience in itself just to come here to see the displays.

Also in the area is Cargo & High-Tech at 12 Piazza XXV Aprile, one of my all time favourite shops for homewares. It’s a little hard to find as it’s not visible from the street. From the main square you have to go through an arch into another little square and you will see the shop in front of you. The building is a labyrinth of rooms (it was once a former ink plant for a local newspaper) that contain everything imaginable for the modern home, especially kitchenware. Just when you think you’ve seen everything, a small door in the corner will take you off to a new floor and several more antechambers, each dedicated to a different room in the house. You need at least a couple of hours to get round it, and plenty of room in your suitcase.

We stay at the Hotel NH Collection Milano Porta Nuova (ex NH Grand Hotel Verdi) at 6 Via Melchiorre Gioia. The exterior is rather grim but the receptionists are great, the rooms are spacious and the breakfast isn’t too bad. There’s a small gym but I preferred to go for a run in the nearby Parco Sempione where you can view the beautiful Castle Sforzesco.

Next we head north of Garibaldi station to have a look at the modern architecture in the Porta Nuova neighbourhood…

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