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Milan: Midweek January "Solid" non-touristy dinner spot?

Milan: Midweek January "Solid" non-touristy dinner spot?

Old Dec 11, 15, 10:11 am
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Milan: Midweek January "Solid" non-touristy dinner spot?

Hey FTers,

I use the term solid to mean restaurants that are great food, relaxed atmosphere and reasonably priced.

If you're a discerning local,where would you go on a Weds. night?

GF and I are doing an overnight in Milan in a few weeks and would like to find a spot that's not pretentious, touristy or overly fancy....just Solid.

Northern Italian food would be great, or just good pastas, but open to other suggestions as well.

We'll be coming in by train from Nice and staying near the Centrale Station for an early trip to MXP in the morning, but would love to find.

Last time I asked an American friend who lives there for a recommendation and he sent us to a place where the host was a "good friend".... turned out to be a horribly touristy dinner factory with menus in 8 languages and pictures, and a caricature of a host who was everyone's best friend the minute they walked in the door.

So..er... nothing like that please....

Thanks in advance.

ROTR
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Old Dec 11, 15, 2:30 pm
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None of these restaurants are touristy. Google them, see which one suits you for price and location.

Very pricey but worth it:
Cracco (One of the most famous chefs in Milan. This would be the splurge)

Still pricey but less so, great food:
Innocente Evasioni
Alice Ristorante
Unico
Asola

Moderately priced, great food:
L’ Essenziale
Antica Trattoria Morivione
L'Altra Isola
Sambuco dell’Hotel Hermitage

Budget, neighborhood type restaurants but still great:
L'Osteria del Treno (very close to Milano Centrale train station)
Ponte Rosa (located on the Naviglio Canal, a good neighborhood to hang out)
Al Pont de Ferr (also on the canal)
Marta
Belli Freschi
Aromando
Il Liberty
Ratana'
Trattoria del Nuovo Macello
Osteria dell' Aquabella
Pasta Madre
Masuelli San Marco

The most traditional dishes are probably cotoletto, ossobucco, and risotto, if you want to really eat alla Milanese.
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Old Dec 11, 15, 7:14 pm
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P.S.: I know I gave you more than you asked for in putting up a tier of restaurants, including some really pricey ones. The last category would meet your desire for authentic places where a local goes on a Wednesday night, but one thing - as always in Italy, you're going to want to get a reservation. Even a local planning to eat at a neighborhood place will stop by at lunch and tell them to save a table for that night.

Even a day before, or a few hours before usually suffices. This can even be by email, but don't consider it done unless you get an email confirmation back. Believe me, you can get shut out of even good neighborhood local places if you don't have a reservation because they open late, and Italians take their time eating dinner so there's little turnover. Some of the neighborhood places I listed have 10-15 tables, and they won't turnover at all. There will only be one seating, so I strongly advise you to get a reservation, or email your hotel and tell them to call the restaurant and do it for you.

Last edited by Perche; Dec 11, 15 at 7:51 pm
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Old Dec 11, 15, 8:07 pm
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Originally Posted by remyontheroad View Post
Hey FTers,

I use the term solid to mean restaurants that are great food, relaxed atmosphere and reasonably priced.

If you're a discerning local,where would you go on a Weds. night?

GF and I are doing an overnight in Milan in a few weeks and would like to find a spot that's not pretentious, touristy or overly fancy....just Solid.

Northern Italian food would be great, or just good pastas, but open to other suggestions as well.

We'll be coming in by train from Nice and staying near the Centrale Station for an early trip to MXP in the morning, but would love to find.

Last time I asked an American friend who lives there for a recommendation and he sent us to a place where the host was a "good friend".... turned out to be a horribly touristy dinner factory with menus in 8 languages and pictures, and a caricature of a host who was everyone's best friend the minute they walked in the door.

So..er... nothing like that please....

Thanks in advance.

ROTR
Al Mercante which is near the Duomo, great food, good service but very down to earth.
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Old Dec 12, 15, 10:15 pm
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Wow, that's a fantastic starting point, thanks very much.

Definitely never hurts to know what the options are, so I love to hear about the higher end ones as well.

And great reminder about reservations. I'm know I should, but don't always remember to do it.



Originally Posted by Perche View Post
P.S.: I know I gave you more than you asked for in putting up a tier of restaurants, including some really pricey ones. The last category would meet your desire for authentic places where a local goes on a Wednesday night, but one thing - as always in Italy, you're going to want to get a reservation. Even a local planning to eat at a neighborhood place will stop by at lunch and tell them to save a table for that night.

<snip>
And thanks for this too. I'll check it out.

Originally Posted by dh01 View Post
Al Mercante which is near the Duomo, great food, good service but very down to earth.
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Old Dec 14, 15, 6:31 am
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My two favorite mid-priced places are Osteria del Treno (not far from the station, very traditional food, fairly humble dining room, interesting wines, very local ingredients) and Rovello 18 (a bit more upscale, nearer to the Castello, simple and wonderful food, better/deeper wine list).

Edited to add that the most local dish in January/February is Cassoeula, a pork dish:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassoeula
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Old Dec 21, 15, 2:36 pm
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A few more options for you, a gourmet food magazine asked 15 food critics where they had their best meal, based upon value, or the relationship between price and the quality, in 2015. Although it covered the whole country, five critics chose restaurants in Milan, which I'll list.

http://www.dissapore.com/ristoranti/...ualita-prezzo/

1. SARA PORRO (critic) – Dissapore, Amica (Magazines she works for)
MANGIARI DI STRADA, Milano. Restaurant she feels offers the best meal at the right price. http://www.mangiaridistrada.com

Uno dei miei ristoranti preferiti è Mangiari di Strada, a Milano, collocato in uno scorcio di Lorenteggio dalla desolazione periferica quasi inimitabile. Alla mia ultima visita ho mangiato dei tagliolini (fatti in casa, come tutta la pasta fresca) al “triplo burro imperiale” – una crema di burro leggemente montata (anche sotto il profilo del copy, diciamo).

Costavano 14 Euro, che può apparire molto per un piatto di pasta fresca in un locale informale, ma che per me è un prezzo ragionevole per uno dei piatti migliori mangiati quest’anno. Un posto dal costo medio e dalla qualità eccellente del resto ha un buon rapporto qualità/prezzo!

One of my preferred restaurants is Mangiari di Strada, located on the out skirts in Lorenteggio in a desolate area. My last visit I had home made tagliolini with triple butter imperial, a light butter cream.

It cost 14 euros, which appear high for a plate of pasta in an informal restaurant, but to me the price is reasonable for one of the better dishes you'll eat this year. A place of intermediate cost, and excellent relationship between quality and price.

2. MARGO SCHACHTER (food critic)– LaCucinaItaliana.it, Vanityfair.it. La Stampa (who he writes for). TRIPPA (restaurant)– Milano. http://www.trippamilano.it

“Dove si mangia bene spendendo poco?” Ecco la classica domanda che chi fa il nostro lavoro si sente ripetere da amici e conoscenti. A Milano, rispondere non è mai stato molto facile, ma poi hanno aperto Diego e Pietro di Trippa, e ora ho un asso nella manica. Materie prime di qualità e una mano sicura dal passato stellato, applicate alla tradizione.

Senza scivolare nel dramma delle “trattorie moderne” con le mini-porzioni e le prezzemolate, o della “ottima cucina casalinga”, che è spesso solo il sinonimo di gente che a casa mangia malissimo.

Il miglior rapporto qualità/prezzo per sentirsi coccolati.

Where do you eat well and spend little? This is the classic question that people in my line of work are always being repeatedly asked by friends and acquaintances. Milan has never been easy, but then Diego and Pietro opened Trippa, and now I have an ace up my sleeve. Prime ingredients in their secure hands, based on their experience in starred restaurants, made in the traditional way.

Without slipping into the drama of "modern trattorias" with their mini-portions, their parsley, or places that say, "top notch home cooking!" which is usually synonymous with people who eat terribly at home.

The best relationship between quality and price, and feeling pampered.

3. MAURIZIO BERTERA – Guida Gambero Rosso, Il sole 24 Ore, Il Giornale (who he reviews for)
SPAZIO – Milano http://www.nikoromitoformazione.it/s...spazio-milano/

Spazio Milano. Meglio questo di quello capitolino, perchè siamo indigeni e qualche tavolo regala anche la vista Duomo. Cucina tre stelle, fatta di elementi semplicissimi, declinata bistrot dagli allievi di Niko Romito (e si vede). Un posto da clonare, soprattutto fuori dai patri confini per far capire cosa sia la cucina italiana moderna.

Spazio in Milan. Better this one than the one at the capitolino in Rome, they are native, and some tables even give you a view of the Duomo. Made with simple ingredients by students learning to be chefs, studying under Niko Romito, who has a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars, at his cooking school. This is a place that should be cloned, especially outside of the confines of the country so that others can understand just what modern italian cooking is.

4. GABRIELE ZANNATA (critic)– Identità Golose (who she writes for)
SPAZIO, Milano. She also chose Spazio.

Spazio Milano: grandi prodotti, tecnica invisibile, le guglie del Duomo che quasi siedono a tavola con te e una spesa che fa impallidire qualsiasi trappola per turisti dei paraggi.

Spazio, Milano. Great products, invisible technique, the spires of the Duomo are practically sitting at the table with you, at prices that make all the tourist traps in the neighborhood go pale.

5. VALERIO M. VISINTIN – Corriere della Sera (newspaper he is the food critic for) SPAZIO, Milano. He's the third food critic that chose Spazio.

Facile. Spazio Milano, il ristorante gestito dagli allievi di Niko Romito nel Mercato del Duomo. Si mangia a un buonissimo livello, con vista sulla nostra cattedrale, coccolati come principini da una squadra di giovani dall’aria sana e allegra. E si spendono, calcolatrice alla mano: 28/32 euro per due piatti, bere escluso.

Easy. Spazio in Milan, the restaurant run by students of Niko Romito in the Market of the Duomo. You eat at an extremely high level with a view of the duomo, pampered like a prince by a team of young, healthy, cheerful student chefs. You spend little. Calculator in hand: 28-32 euros for two dishes, drinks not included.
---
So that's interesting, five critics chose Milan, and 3 of them chose Spazio. From my reading, the cooking school is very famous, these are not student cooks taking a weekend class. They're learning from a 3 star Michelin Chef how to be the future great cooks of Italy during a long course of study and apprenticeship. The menu changes daily, and seems reasonable, less than 20 euros for a main course. http://www.nikoromitoformazione.it/s...o-milano/menu/

There are no waiters. The students rotate in and out of the kitchen. They explain what they are making, why, how, the technique, then go back to the kitchen and cook it. Sounds interesting. I'll have to give it a try next time in Milano. Sounds like a good place to "mangiare bene, spendono poco."

Last edited by Perche; Dec 25, 15 at 6:23 pm
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Old Dec 25, 15, 11:14 pm
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Try Trattoria "La Fattoria" da Raimundo. Via G. Fara 1. A few blocks from Centrale. My wife and I had made a reservation online at another restaurant nearby that turned out to be closed, so we walked the neighborhood and found this. It was early and we were lucky to get the only table not already reserved. Excellent grilled fish.
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Old Feb 9, 16, 11:40 am
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OK you got me and tomorrow I'll try SPAZIO. I will report back. (I had a great meal at Osteria del Treno, a "Finanziera", a stew of things left over).
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Old Feb 10, 16, 3:54 pm
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Follow-up: Spazio was fun if a little uneven. I can see why it would be fun for a food critic, though the diners (who seemed like mostly Italian and fairly sophisticated) seemed to be having a good time, too. The space feels like a pop up restaurant, with little decor beyond writing on the walls, hooks for you coat near your table and fairly minimal place settings. The wine list is very short (two sparkling wines, two whites and two reds), all by the glass and not that expensive.

The food was pretty good but portions were not huge. There was an amuse-bouche, I had a pasta stuffed with cardoons and a capocollo (a few chunks of pork). The dessert was beautiful (a meringue with chestnut inside and cream) and then I got a little apple/lemon gummy square.

The service was very polite and friendly but a bit erratic. I barely had time to sit down before someone came to take my order (he gracefully gave me a minute to read the menu) and rather than discussing wines if you offered a clue the waiter immediately ran off to get it. And at the end there was about a half hour pause between when I finished my meal and when I finally got to pay. I probably could have speeded this up (and I was not in a huge hurry) but the restaurant was full and the waiters were barely able to deal with the customers who were eating.

So all in all a pleasant experience and a fun stop for foodies in search of something different. I could see going back but I only have so many nights in Milan and there are a few places (written about above) that I really like a lot.
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Old Feb 10, 16, 9:53 pm
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Originally Posted by ckendall View Post
Follow-up: Spazio was fun if a little uneven. I can see why it would be fun for a food critic, though the diners (who seemed like mostly Italian and fairly sophisticated) seemed to be having a good time, too. The space feels like a pop up restaurant, with little decor beyond writing on the walls, hooks for you coat near your table and fairly minimal place settings. The wine list is very short (two sparkling wines, two whites and two reds), all by the glass and not that expensive.

The food was pretty good but portions were not huge. There was an amuse-bouche, I had a pasta stuffed with cardoons and a capocollo (a few chunks of pork). The dessert was beautiful (a meringue with chestnut inside and cream) and then I got a little apple/lemon gummy square.

The service was very polite and friendly but a bit erratic. I barely had time to sit down before someone came to take my order (he gracefully gave me a minute to read the menu) and rather than discussing wines if you offered a clue the waiter immediately ran off to get it. And at the end there was about a half hour pause between when I finished my meal and when I finally got to pay. I probably could have speeded this up (and I was not in a huge hurry) but the restaurant was full and the waiters were barely able to deal with the customers who were eating.

So all in all a pleasant experience and a fun stop for foodies in search of something different. I could see going back but I only have so many nights in Milan and there are a few places (written about above) that I really like a lot.
Thanks for the feedback! I can't wait to give it a try.

As you probably know, what constitutes good service in the USA is considered bad service in Italy. What is considered good service in Italy is considered bad service in the USA. This tends to drive people mad, when their expectations are that things will be like at home and they are not.

In Italy it is considered bad service to bring the check. You have to ask for it, and even then they will drag your feet if you haven't been waiting for about a half hour. In Italy they can't understand why someone would want to get up and go as soon as they finish eating. It's a time for rest, conversation, letting the food digest. The half hour rest after eating is an integral part of the meal. The waiter is conveying hospitality by not bringing the check, and signaling to you that you are welcome to the table for the rest of the evening and they won't bat an eye.

I stayed in a hotel in CA all of last week. I only ate at the hotel, as I was very busy. Both for breakfast and for dinner, the waitress would bring the check a few minutes after putting down the main course, and would say, "No rush, whenever you're ready." That push toward the door to turn over the table would be considered unspeakably rude to an Italian.

The other thing that drives people from the USA mad in Italy is the 20-30 minutes between each course. In the USA as soon as they pick up the salad or the appetizer, you barely have time to rest, and out comes the main course. You order desert and it speedily arrives, and the check is already on the table. It's just not done that way in Italy. People don't want to eat one dish after another. You would get too full to enjoy each course. You have to wait 20-30 minutes between courses so that your appetite can be rekindled. That wait is considered good service. Bringing one plate after another, and then giving you the check as soon as you put down your fork is just considered rude.

The only place I know with two discrete sittings is Roscioli in Rome. They have an early sitting, mostly for tourists, at 7:00. You have to agree to be done by 9:15, as they prepare for the 9:30 sitting. Even the most rushed meal I know is still over two hours long, with the obligatory half hour wait for the check after you have your coffee or your digestivo.

I ate at Al Covo in Venice 10 days ago. Started at 8 PM, left at 11:45, including the half hour wait for the check. You just can't eat fast in Italy. Although it was far from full, they just won't bring you the check. They'll walk right by you and not look at you, which is considered a complement, not bad service. It's considered polite and a courtesy for the waiter not to give you any hint that they want you to leave.

Last edited by Perche; Feb 11, 16 at 7:55 am
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Old Feb 11, 16, 8:24 am
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To add to what Perche said, if you're dining out with children, the staff won't necessarily assume you want to get out of there more quickly. It's perfectly polite to ask them to bring food as it's ready, and when you want your child's meal delivered (although they will sometimes ask if you want the kids' stuff out with the antipasto or later on). But there won't be an assumption that you're there to eat and run.

That said, with kids, it's better for them if you go to a trattoria or osteria/fiaschetteria to eat, since it will generally be a quicker meal. I'm not bringing a 3 year old to Spazio (or Pinchiorri, or Al Covo, etc), for instance.
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Old Feb 11, 16, 10:44 am
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The food came out fairly quickly but not in any kind of hurry. But I thought I had indicated that I was interested in the check (that had been promptly delivered to the non-Italian speaking table next to me (where they ordered a bit less)) and may have spent half the time in the restaurant after the last plate was taken away. I'll gladly accept Perche's idea that it was a compliment to my savvy ordering (including a willingness to eat and drink a reasonable quantity) and my reasonably fluent Italian.
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Old Jun 7, 18, 8:36 pm
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Bumping up this thread because it's a couple years old and not sure if the recommendations still hold.

I'm heading to Milan for a work trip this upcoming week. Have time for a couple of dinners. Looking for recommendations for really good, freshly made pasta (anything from cacio e pepe to red sauce to anything in between)

Staying at the AC Milan Hotel (due to proximity to work engagements) but can take an Uber/Taxi if needed
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Old Jun 7, 18, 10:46 pm
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Originally Posted by Duke787 View Post
Bumping up this thread because it's a couple years old and not sure if the recommendations still hold.

I'm heading to Milan for a work trip this upcoming week. Have time for a couple of dinners. Looking for recommendations for really good, freshly made pasta (anything from cacio e pepe to red sauce to anything in between)


Staying at the AC Milan Hotel (due to proximity to work engagements) but can take an Uber/Taxi if needed
There are some misconceptions about eating in Italy. Each region is practically a different country when it comes to food. You eat the food of the region you’re in. You will not find the food on a menu in Parma on a menu in a restaurant in Verona. Cacio e Pepe is a Roman dish. You won’t find it anywhere else in Italy.

There is no such thing as red sauce in Italy. That’’s an American way of serving pasta. Not that there aren’t a few sauces that are red, particularly during the summer when tomatoes are in season, but it’s not red sauce. Tomatoes may be in it, but it’s not the focus of the sauce, as in marinara sauce. There is no marinara sauce in Italy. That’s an American pasta sauce.

Fresh pasta is not not a good way to look at it. Some dishes call for the pasta to be fresh and soft, so that it absorbs the sauce. Lasagna, for example is one of them. In order to blend well with the ingredients, including the sauce, which is bechamel sauce in Italy, not, “red sauce, which is milk, butter, and flour based. The dried pasta in boxes doesn’t work well with lasagna. It is distinctly inferior to freshly made pasta. Of course, if “red sauce,” is being used instead of Italian lasagna, I’m not sure if one could tell the difference.

Just like cacio e pepe is Roman food, only to be found around Rome, lasagna is from Emiglia Romagna, e.g. Bologna. If you find It elsewhere in Italy, it is probabably frozen food cooked in a microwave. Lasagna has migrated to other regions, whereas cacio e Pepe has not. But true lasagna takes a lot of labor, including making the pasta fresh, which is why it is generally only served to celebrate a wedding, a birth, e holiday, except in Emiglia Romagna. Where it is more common. You would be hard pressed to find it in Milan.

While fresh pasta is clearly better for lasagna and some other sauces, the use of fresh pasta with many dishes found in Italy would be a disaster. Fresh pasta is soft and absorbs the flavor of the sauce. It’s suited for soft, delicate, buttery sauces like Bechamel for lasagna.

You should not use fresh pasta for many/most dishes made in Italy. Pesto, an oily sauce, would be a disaster with fresh pasta, as so much oil would be absorbed that it would taste like mush. You have to use dried pasta. Chunky, meaty, and oily sauces require dried pasta that will not absorb the sause.

Forget about cacio e pepe, red sauce, and fresh pasta. Think regionally if you want to eat well. Up in the Northeastern parts of Italy near Asustria, the typical dish is gnocchi, or potato dumplings, not pasta. Move down and a little west, and you come to where there is a lot of corn, and instead of pasta, polenta rules. Heading west by car or train to Milan through the Po Valley you pass through miles and miles of rice fields, thus the typical dish in Milan is risotto, or rice.

You can find pasta everywhere in Italy, but no one should thin tkhat is all that Italians eat. It’s best to go regional. Calamari in Venice. Anchovies in Amalfi. Pizza in Naples. Risotto in Milan. Gnocchi in Bolzano.

If you want to eat well in Milan, stop thinking about red sauce and fresh pasta, the restaurants in this thread will serve you well



Last edited by Perche; Jun 8, 18 at 12:26 am
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