Known as the fashion capital of the world, Milan attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. With Quadrilatero della Moda and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II this city offers any lover of style an abundance of opportunities to indulge. However, whilst you will never be short of advice on where to shop, you may have more difficulty working out where it is best to eat. As with all Italian cities, in Milan you could feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of restaurants that you stumble upon. Every street appears to boast a number of pizzerias, all claiming to serve the best pizza you will ever eat, so allow us to guide you through some of the quirks of Lombard cuisine and help you to get the best taste of this region.
As a city synonymous with style, it is no surprise that Milanese dining caters to the latest trends. In recent years, what has become particularly popular amongst the city’s younger inhabitants is the Aperitivo tradition. Translating literally to ‘appetizer’, aperitivo is usually used to refer to drinks which are served before the main part of a meal. As this suggests, aperitivo dining involves ordering rounds of drinks - cocktails like the Negroni are always popular - which are served with small plates of food. In essence, you are paying only for the drink and the accompanying antipasti is free, making this a great option for those on more of a budget. At some establishments this way of eating has evolved a little, and they simply have an unlimited buffet that you can access if you are paying for drinks. Aperitivo dining is particularly associated with the Navigli region of Milan, a beautiful area of cobbled streets which lies between two divergent canals, and a hotspot for the city’s nightlife.
For an authentic taste of more traditional Italian cuisine we highly recommend you pay a visit to Osteria della Via Appia. This lovely restaurant has a rustic feel inside and is situated on Via Carlo Goldoni - near Piazza Tricolore - so it is a little bit removed from the chaos of the city centre making it a popular spot with the locals. Inspired by the Appian Way - an integral Roman road which connected Rome to Brindisi - Via Appia offers four different menus, each specific to a region, spanning Lazio, Campania, Basilicata and Puglia, which the road passed through. An extensive wine menu is also provided so that you can pair each dish with a wine from the same region. It is recommended that you pick a few items from the menu and share these amongst your party so that you get the full experience of the Appian Way, with a taste of every region. The relaxed atmosphere makes this the ideal place to while away an evening and it is very close to the trendy Piazza Risorgimento which has many outdoor bars if you’re looking for somewhere to go out after dinner.
The most famous dish associated with the region of Lombardy, and one that you cannot leave without trying, is the Risotto Milanese. This is a deliciously creamy, saffron-infused dish which is often paired with another Lombard classic, Ossobucco. Any restaurant worth its salt will serve this traditional risotto, but we can particularly recommend Osteria Conchetta, located on Via Conchetta very near the canal.
By now you may have had your fill of food and aperitivos, but one final recommendation we have for you is where to find the perfect espresso. No trip to Italy is complete without drinking your bodyweight in coffee, so here’s where we suggest you start. The small but luxurious Milanese pasticceria (patisserie), Marchesi 1824, is historically rooted in this city’s coffee culture and it is definitely worth checking out. One thing to bear in mind is that the trend for cafes that exclusively serve coffee isn’t so prevalent in Italy. You will be more likely to find good coffee in stylish bars and local bakeries, ideal if you fancy a little dolce or pasticcino with your breakfast cappuccino, and there is no shortage of these establishments, so buon appetito!
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