With its role as a center for global fashion and as the country's hub for banking and finance, Milan, Italy, has an international flair, more so, perhaps, than any other Italian city. This is reflected in its cuisine, which is a mix of traditional recipes from its surrounding region of Lombardy, influences from the rest of Europe, and the flavors of its strong Asian community. So whether you want tradition, innovation, or a break from pasta and pizza, Milan has the restaurants for you.
Tradition meets innovation at Trippa, a cozy trattoria with an old-school vibe but imaginative takes on typical Milanese fare. As the name suggests, trippa, or tripe, is a star of the menu here, as are dishes made of other spare animal parts. Diners who aren't fans of offal will still find plenty of choices here, and the waitstaff is happy to translate the menu and offer their suggestions for both food and wine. The bone marrow comes highly recommended. Advance reservations are almost always necessary.
With its open kitchen, rustic-chic decor, a location near the Duomo, and a menu that combines familiar Milanese favorites with international influences and ingredients, Exit has won a large following among young professionals. From breakfast to happy hour, expect bright, fresh entrees, appetizers, and cocktails—and surprisingly reasonable prices. The menu offers a range of meat, fish and vegetarian items, all creatively executed and plated. Reserve ahead.
This import from Florence specializes in taglieri—heaping appetizers of cured meat, cheese, olives, bruschetta, and more served on wooden cutting boards. It's the kind of eating that's perfect for casual sharing among friends, and there's no place in Milan better than La Prosciutteria for warmth, conviviality, and high-quality products. Its canal front location in Navigli means there's great people-watching all night long. Come for aperitivo, and it just might wind up turning into dinner.
For focaccia (lofty, pizzalike bread) that will make your heart sing, head to this super-casual spot near the Duomo. Manuelina is bright a bright, cheerful spot for a quick bite, and the focaccia—oh, the focaccia!—which ranges from thin, crispy rounds served with olive oil and salt or garnished with an endless choice of toppings, to light, fluffy versions served plain or stuffed like sandwiches. The classic version is focaccia with cheese, but be sure to try a few variations. Kids will love it.
In the decidedly untouristy Ticenese neighborhood and difficult to find in a former warehouse complex, Al Cortile is a sweet surprise, with eclectic decor and lovely courtyard dining. The menu offers a mix of seafood, meat, poultry, and vegetarian dishes, some prepared with a hint of an Asian influence, such as beef cheek served with truffled mashed potatoes and bok choi. The mix of comfort food and refined cuisine keeps a loyal following of Milanese—and the lucky tourists who find the place—coming back.
A perfect mixed berry tart. Gourmet sandwiches on fresh-baked bread. Craft beer. An afternoon snack of bread, cheese, and jam. Craft cocktails accompanied with premium happy hour snacks. This is what makes Pavé such an appealing choice for almost any time of day. The quality is high, the prices are fair, and while the vibe may be a little too self-consciously hipster, the food and drinks are worth every bit of the hype. Located about halfway between Milano Centrale station and the Centro Storico, this is a convenient stop if you're staying near the station but heading into the city center.
If Bar Luce seems to evoke a quirky, vintage movie set, there's a reason for that—the interiors were designed by the master of quirk himself, auteur filmmaker Wes Anderson. The coffee bar is part of the Fondazione Prada, near the Porta Romana train station just outside the city. Apart from the whimsical 1950s-inspired decor, which includes vintage pinball machines, a soda counter, and mid-century furnishings, the coffees, pastries, sandwiches, and desserts are worth the hike out of town. In combination with a visit to the changing exhibits of the Prada Foundation, this is a delightful spot to while away a few hours, far from the tourist crowds.
To call Peck a gourmet grocery store is kind of like calling the Colosseum a sports arena—it doesn't quite do it justice. Instead, Peck refers to itself as an "Italian Temple of Gastronomical Delights"—and that gives you a much better idea of what's in store, ranging from meticulously curated meats, cheeses, olives, bread, pasta, truffles, desserts ad infinitum, and a dazzling produce section. Go here for unique gifts to take home or for the makings of an unforgettable picnic, but remember, prices can add up quickly. The on-site restaurant is a culinary splurge.
It's not slumming when the street food is this good. Luini has one specialty: pan-sized panzerotti, which are small pizzas stuffed with your choice of fillings. folded over and deep-fried. Different from large, heavy baked calzones, feather-light panzerotti are snack-sized, meaning you can try two or three at a time. Luini has been frying them up since 1888, so suffice to say, they've got the hang of it. Sweet and savory versions are available. Don't be surprised to find a line stretching out the door.
Farm-to-table cuisine is all the rage, but few places offer farm-to-table cuisine in a real farmhouse, especially within the limits of a major city. Cascina Cuccagna occupies an 18th-century house and farmette tucked amid the post-war buildings of the Porta Romana district. Today, there's a simple eatery with a focus on locally sourced ingredients, plus a cooking school, a florist, and a bike repair shop. The restaurant is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. only.
Book well in advance for what is quite possibly the most unique dining experience in Milan. In two vintage tramcars, ATMosfera offers multi-course brunches or dinners as it transports guests past Milan's most famous monuments. There's a lot of gimmicks here, and it would be easy for the experience to overshadow the food—but ATMosfera delivers on both fronts. Trams depart from in front of Castello Sforzesco for the 2.5-hour experience. The ride is especially thrilling and romantic after dark.
The Meatball Family does not attempt to masquerade as a fine dining establishment. Instead, this campy, loud, kid-friendly joint knows just what it is—a place to go for tasty, filling meals built around—you guessed it—meatballs. Its original location at Via Vigevano 20 bills itself as an "American-style" eatery and there are two other locations in the city, plus three street food trucks on the prowl. Surprisingly, given the name, there are great vegan options here.