Unfortunately I was in Monza during the second Covid lockdown in 2020 and all the restaurants were closed in the evenings, so I didn’t get much of a chance to explore the local dining scene. The only exceptions to the lockdown rules were hotel restaurants, so I ate at mine every night, and had lunch at another hotel down the road. Both places look pretty decent on paper but unfortunately the food was a bit hit and miss…
You’ll find everywhere I mention on my map, along with several more pubs and restaurants that I didn’t get to.
Antica Trattoria Dell’Uva (High Intermediate B), 2 Piazza Carrobiolo, www.anticatrattoriadelluva.it
Dell’Uva is a hotel as well as a restaurant and was where I stayed for four nights. The rooms are fairly basic but essentially okay and the staff were polite and helpful. There’s no lift and they switch the modem for the internet off at night (perhaps negotiate this) but these were the only irritants for me. Normally I wouldn’t eat in a hotel restaurant as I like to walk to my food, but in any case I always have high hopes for any place that has the words ‘Antica Trattoria’ in its name.
The dining room is quite formal with traditional decor and lots of white linen. My waiter, a Sinhalese guy from Sri Lanka (a country that I adore), was very friendly and attentive. There are plenty of choices on the menu but as ever I wanted to try the local dishes, some of which are great and some of which could be a bit challenging at times…
The Gnocchi di Patate al Gorgonzola e Noci (potato dumplings in a walnut and blue cheese sauce) is pretty good (B). Gorgonzola being a nearby town of course, just half an hour away.
And you can never go wrong with Pappardelle con Funghi Porcini (wide pasta ribbons with chunks of fresh ceps) when mushrooms are in season (B+).
However… I kind of feel obliged to eat risotto in the north of Italy and it’s usually very good, although the Risotto alla Monzese, rice with Luganega di Monza (a type of sausage the local recipe for which includes pork mince, pork lard, grana cheese, meat broth and wine) didn’t do much for me (C). That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try the sausages again though as there are different ways of making them.
I like kidneys but the Rognoncino di Vitello Trifolato (veal kidneys cooked in olive oil with garlic and parsley), were overcooked and the polenta didn’t particularly wow me either (C).
Perhaps the most challenging main was the Caseoula Brianzola, a local stew made with cabbage and less glamourous pig parts such as the snout, feet and head but here, mercifully, just with the skin. The sausage was good but I couldn’t finish the skin.
On my last night I played it safe with a Cotoleta alla Milanese, the famous bone-in, breaded veal chop (B) and what looked like oven chips (C).
The cheese selection was quite pokey (B).
I remember all the northern reds I tried, (Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Barbera d’Asti, Dolcetto d’Alba) as being decent (B) but not knockout.
I didn’t usually have dessert but once I was tempted by the Cassata Siciliana with a glass of Moscato (B).
So respect to the restaurant for serving traditional local dishes, it’s just unfortunate that those dishes weren’t quite for me!
Derby Grill (High Intermediate B), 1 Vialone Cesare Battisti, www.derbygrill.it
The Derby Grill is the restaurant of the Hotel de la Ville, the place where all the top Formula One people stay when they come to town.
In the loos there are black and white photos of such greats as Stirling Moss, Graham Hill with Jackie Stewart, and Niki Lauda with Bernie Ecclestone.
I came for lunch and was seated in the pleasant glass conservatory which is furnished in colonial style with rattan and leather chairs, bamboo furnishings, Vietnamese ceiling fans, and lots of evergreen plants. Their dress code is “casual-elegant” which isn’t my usual style, but fortunately my work clothes passed muster.
I started with the Mondeghili (Milanese Meatballs) which are traditionally made with breadcrumbs and minced leftover meat with sausage and mortadella. Sadly they were oversalted (C) but I was so hungry I ate them without any complaint.
Much more enjoyable were the autumnal flavours of the Tagliatelle Casarecce al Ragu di Coniglio e Funghi Selvia: homemade pasta with rabbit and wild mushroom ragu (B+).
The cheese selction was just okay (C) although the waiter couldn’t tell me anything about them. I particularly liked the candied chestnuts and pear the cheese came with (B+B).
The evening menu looks a lot more interesting and adventurous. The ‘bistro’ menu served at lunchtime is more restricted.
Holidays in Parma next!