Milan is essentially the capital of Northern Italy and arguably Italy’s most cosmopolitan city, located geographically closer to the rest of Europe and drawing an equal mix of tourists and business travelers. That means you can find world-class cuisine here that is well outside the range of pasta and more pasta. Not that you won’t find great Italian food here; chefs from all over Italy come here to cook and impress patrons in the city’s high-end hotels and relatively modern neighborhoods. Milan itself has its own culinary tradition as well, with its world-famous osso buco, a braised veal specialty usually served in a rich, winey broth. And of course, the city is also known for its aperitivo, the Italian version of happy hour, which involves restaurants offering up free buffets and plates of food to pair with your drink.
The 21 Best Restaurants in Milan
Al Pont de Ferr • Navigli • $$-$$$
An unassuming spot off the main canal in Milan’s busy Navigli neighborhood, you could be forgiven for pegging Al Pont de Ferr as just another mediocre aperitivo bar in an area stuffed full of them, rather than a Michelin-starred restaurant. But that impression changes quickly. Handsome and bright, the brick-walled main room is usually packed with diners expecting something special. Sommelier and owner Maida Mercuri has spent the last 30 years establishing a reputation for adventurous, meat-focused food—pigeon with “well-rosy chest” is a favorite. But an engaged staff (and an all-English menu option) are there to help you pick out items from the mostly a la carte menu, or steer you to the (highly recommended) tasting menu. Open for lunch and dinner; reservations highly recommended.
Location • +39 02 8940 6277
Ratanà • Isola • $$
Located in the once-industrial, now-upscale Isola district north of the Duomo, Ratanàhas established itself as a cornerstone of Milan’s restaurant scene since opening in 2009. The food is essentially standard Milanese, but chef Cesare Battisi concentrates on startlingly fresh ingredients with a contemporary edge. The risotto with osso buco plate, for instance, looks just like all the other ones in town, only the meat is tender and flavorful in a way that veal rarely manages. After dinner, go for a stroll in the park which surrounds the building, and enjoy the aggressively modern architecture of the Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) towers nearby. Open for lunch and dinner.
Location • +39 02 8712 8855
Cantina della Vetra • San Lorenzo • $$
Right around the corner from the Basilica di San Lorenzo’s Roman Empire-era columns, the Cantina della Vetra serves perfectly executed Italian cuisine in an attractive setting. Adjacent to the main dining room and a loft above with extra seating is a lovely wine bar, which makes for a great space to sip some Barbera while you wait for a table. It’s popular, but the service is crisp, and the food is well worth the wait – and very reasonably priced to boot. While the pasta is a must-have, also consider trying the secondi meat dishes, and whatever you do, save room for the panna cotta, one of the city’s best.
Location • +39 02 8940 3843
Filippo La Mantia • Monforte • $$$-$$$$
It’s pricey, but both the food and the décor here are top of the line, and the restaurant has a relaxed, cuddle-up-with-a-book quality. Laid out in a generous two-floor, open lounge concept, comfortable leather chairs and benches encourage you to sink in and stay awhile. Named after the head chef, the food is Sicilian fare with a twist – La Mantia has trouble digesting garlic and onions, and doesn’t include either in his cuisine. The approach means you end up with creative combinations like couscous with salted cod and sweet chilis, or a raw shrimp spaghetti dish that makes unusually liberal use of basil. La Mantia is also famous for the omelets he serves at both lunch and dinner service, including one made from an intriguing mix of pear and oregano. Or maybe go for one of the meat dishes; seasonal preparations, like the rabbit loin with sweet and sour pumpkin on the autumn menu, are often outstanding.
Location • +39 02 7000 5309
Trattoria Milanese • Centro Storico & Navigli • $$
There are two Trattoria Milanese restaurants in Milan; both are first-rate examples of the straightforward, simple cooking style typical to the Northern Italian/Lombardy region. The food is fresh and unfussy even as it’s served in a traditionally old-world setting, with bright light, white linen tablecloths and suit-wearing waiters. All the pasta is made in-house, with rib-sticking stews and goblets of house red wine (or fancier bottles, if you prefer). The sauces also stick to the basics, whether based on tomato, cheese, or meat. You can find it in either the Navigli area near Porta Genova, or in a slightly more central location a few blocks west of the Duomo. In the latter location, you run into more tourists, but also longtime regulars who have been coming here for decades to enjoy their weekly osso buco or perfectly executed meatballs wrapped in cabbage.
Navigli Location • +39 02 8357670; Duomo Location • +39 02 8645 1991
Al Matarel • Brera • $$
The best place to eat in the Brera neighborhood. It looks rather ordinary from the street compared to the fierce competition in the area, but inside you will find a welcoming family-run restaurant, with bottles of wine displayed on small wall shelves, bright colors, and well-executed traditional Milanese food. Any of the pastas are delicious, although they are known for their delicate stuffed tortellini, and of course they have a top-of-the-line osso buco. Tourists tend to miss it, so you can usually get in for lunch or dinner without a reservation and find yourself surrounded mostly by locals. Save room for dessert, with items including a delicious chestnut cake, and their very Italian take on apple pie.
Location • +39 02 654 204
Morgante Cocktail & Soul • Navigli • $$
The two canals of the Navigli neighborhood are lined with all sorts of attention-grabbing bars, restaurants, and shops, but many of the area’s best finds are in the side lanes and alleys. Morgante sits just off Naviglio Grande. Mergante’s inside/outside patio has a mix of soft-lit lamps, candles, hanging chairs, and tables. It’s a lovely and cozy setting, with a small bar, brick arches and tables situated in private corners. The food is a match for the wonderful atmosphere, with a relatively short list of a pastas, meat, and seafood dishes that mix traditional and adventurous – spaghetti with octopus ragout, for instance. And of course, this being the Navigli, you will also be handed a healthy aperitivo plate when you come in for evening drinks.
Location • +39 02 3594 0879
Zia Esterina Sorbillo • Duomo • $
It can be difficult finding good food at a reasonable price near the Duomo. The by-the-slice pizza here, however, served calzone style, is different. Gino Sorbillo’s Neopolitan-style pizza mecca has a half-dozen locations in New York, Naples,and Milan, and you can get amazing pies done the usual way at these other spots. This outpost, named after a favorite family aunt, is designed to provide quick lunches for tourists on the go, serving delicious wedges of cheese and tomato that are ideal for a stroll around the square. Go early for lunch or pack your patience; the line can get intimidatingly long.
Location • +39 02 4549 1628
Il Lusso della Simplicità • City Life • $$$
Alessandro Borghese, one of Italy’s most renowned chefs, opened this Milan restaurant in 2017, and tables have been hard to come by since. It’s not easy to find, tucked behind a supermarket in the modern City Life neighborhood on Milan’s western edge – a location that ensures you’ll be around actual Italians instead of tourists. The main room has a concrete and metal aesthetic, warmed up with copper and soft lights. There’s a glass-lined bar in the front of the house at which you can order excellent cocktails and fancy, delicious tapas, but you’ll only be able to order off the main menu in the restaurant (for which you will need to book in advance). Whether you land at the bar or manage to score a table, every plate is like a little work of art. Lamb chops come piled together teepee-style, with a quartet of sauces along the plate edge. Pasta arrives in beautiful bowls, with seemingly every grain of pepper artfully arranged. Ingredients and menu options change often, driven more by the freshest ingredients Borghese can find than any particular theme. The price is fairly reasonable given the quality. All in all, a special location for anyone looking to escape the tourist center
Location • +39 02 8404 0993
VUN Andrea Aprea • Duomo & San Babila • $$$$
Aptly meaning “one” in Milanese dialect, Vun, the Park Hyatt’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant is one of the best in the city. The minimalist dining room allows full focus on inventive contemporary cuisine with a nod to Aprea’s Neapolitan heritage, and there’s also a 54-page wine list. Smart dress code. Open Tuesday-Saturday, dinner only. Book ahead.
Location • +39 02 8821 1234
Mieru Mieru • Navigli & San Lorenzo • $$
The very reasonably priced Mieru Mieru is loved by locals as one of the best places for fish and seafood in the city. The authentic Puglian cuisine is made with love by the Valentini family. Their menu changes every day depending on the produce available, but there is always an exquisite selection of raw fish dishes. Tuesday-Saturday, dinner only (lunch by reservation); Sunday lunch only.
Location • +39 02 8940 6320
A Santa Lucia • Duomo & San Babila • $$$
Just off the bustle of the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, a major shopping street running between Piazza del Duomo and San Babila, you’ll find fine, robust, and unfussy Italian food, but the real draw is the place itself, which comes with 90 years of rich history. Every wall is plastered with photos of major Hollywood and European cinema icons.
Location • +39 02 7602 3155
Giacomo Arengario • Duomo & San Babila • $$$$
Scale the Guggenheim-inspired spiral ramp at the Museo del Novecento to find the best view in the whole city, overlooking the Piazza del Duomo. Arengario is Chef Giacomo Bulleri’s take on Milanese classics with an international twist, and the menu changes to cater for museum-goers during the day and haute cuisine in the evening. Reservations recommended.
Location • +39 02 7209 3814
La Brisa • Zona Magenta • $$$
La Brisa’s tiny, modest facade belies the beauty within: sophisticated interiors give way to an ethereal walled garden. High-quality European fusion food is served by knowledgeable staff with a great wine list. Ambiance is intimate and romantic. Reservations essential. Open Sunday-Friday, closed Saturday.
Location • +39 02 8645 0521
Cracco • Duomo & San Babila • $$-$$$$
Location, location, location: there is no better place to sit and people-watch in the Galleria than the cafe-bistro at Cracco (open 8am-midnight daily). But that’s not all that’s on offer here. Celebrity Chef Carlo Cracco has a Michelin star for his restaurant in this same building, and the wine cellar, where you can organize tastings, is second to none. Booking recommended.
Location • +34 02 876 774
Seta • Quadrilatero d’Oro to Stazione Centrale • $$$$
Outstanding Michelin two-star contemporary Italian fine dining under the direction of Chef Antonio Guida at the Mandarin Oriental. The relatively good value three-course “surprise” speed lunch menu is fun, or, for a more educational experience, book the Chef’s Table to have Guida himself talk you through the whole process as your food is cooked in front of you. Booking essential; closed Sunday; strict dress code.
Location • +39 02 8731 8897
VIVA • Porta Nuova & Porta Garibaldi • $$$$
At this Michelin-starred restaurant, there are not one, but two tasting menus to choose from: ‘innovation’ or ‘tradition’. Don’t worry about food envy; it’s all wonderful, thanks to Chef Viviana Varese’s flare and seasonal use of produce. There’s a good selection of gluten and lactose-free options. The restaurant is set in the three-story gastronomic department store Eataly Smeraldo, which means you won’t go hungry if there are no available tables.
Location • +39 02 4949 7340
Spazio Niko Romito • Duomo & San Babila • $$
Run by pupils of Niko Romito (of the Michelin three-starred Reale restaurant), this ‘space’ at the top of the Mercato del Duomo gives you a taste of excellence for a fraction of the price. Romito’s deceptively simple style is evident in the menu: the pleasant but underwhelming descriptions (‘sirloin steak with thyme and pepper) do not reflect the flavor explosion you’ll experience. Overlooking the Piazza.
Location • +39 02 878 400
Joia • Quadrilatero d’Oro to Stazione Centrale • $$$$
Michelin-starred vegetarian cooking from Chef Pietro Leemann, whose relationship with food is nothing less than spiritual. The inventive and playful dishes have poetic names such as “Inner landscape” – buckwheat and well roasted Thai-flavored vegetables, coconut and lemongrass sauce, pureed edamame, cauliflower, and yuzu emulsion with wild herbs. Reservations essential.
Location •+39 02 2952 2124
Al Coniglio Bianco • Navigli & San Lorenzo • $$
On the Naviglio Grande, this cozy, friendly, and traditional Italian restaurant serves all the classic Lombard dishes in a superb ambience. Highly recommended by locals. (Sneaky tip: check the website and get a 20% discount if you sign up to the mailing list).
Location • +39 02 5810 0910
Pescaria • Navigli & Corso Como • $
Italian mini-chain serving incredible fast food that puts fish and seafood front and center. The deep-fried octopus in a white crust roll is justifiably legendary. Choose your moment to come because the small locales can get packed like sardine cans. At present, there are 2 locales in Milan: in the Zona Tortona (Navigli, near Mudec) and the other in Corso Como (Porta Garibaldi).
Navigli Location • +39 02 3668 5383; Corso Como Location • +39 02 6599 322
Best Milan Food Markets & Delis
Il Mercato del Duomo • Duomo & San Babila
While this so-called ‘market’ is in fact a multi-level food court, it’s worth wading past the international fast-food outlets to get to the unique Italian gems. The Aperol Terrace has a superb terrace for surveying the Piazza, while Spazio Niko Romito, right at the top, sees pupils of the Michelin 3-starred chef practice their craft. • Map
La Rinascente • Duomo & San Babila
This enormous department store has a wonderful top floor dedicated to the foods of Italy – from DOP and artisanal products that make wonderful gifts to counters serving fresh heritage foods, there’s something for all budgets. There are also Italian fast food outlets including the famous De Santis paninis, among several others. • Map
Mercato Comunale • Navigli & San Lorenzo
Community market with fresh produce stalls and lots of Latino specialty grocers in the middle of Piazza Ventiquattro Maggio by the canals • Map
Peck • Duomo & San Babila
This is no ordinary deli, but a self-declared ‘temple of gastronomy’. The counters display all kinds of delicacies made on-site, the incredible wine cellar has over 3,000 wines and liquors, and the restaurant does an elegant lunch.• Map
Eataly • Porta Venezia & Porta Garibaldi
Three-story Italian food emporium with every gourmet and regional specialty food you could ever need. Features the Michelin-starred VIVA restaurant as well as fantastic pizza and pasta cafes; worth the trip outside the center. • Map 1 • Map 2
Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone • Quadrilatero d’Oro to Stazione Centrale
Prestigious deli-restaurant that has fed wealthy shoppers in the Quad since 1957. • Map
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