Belissimo! Foodies Dish on Milan’s Tastiest Eats and Drinks
Belissimo! Foodies Dish on Milan's Tastiest Eats and Drinks - Pizza Perfection: Where to Find Milan's Top Pies
When it comes to pizza, Milan sets a high bar. From classic Neapolitan pies blistered in wood-fired ovens to creative takes on tradition, the city offers pizza perfection around every corner.
For authentic Neapolitan-style pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven, Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo is a must. Located right near the Duomo, this popular spot is known for its perfectly charred crusts and high-quality ingredients. The classic marinara and margherita pizzas are superb, but don’t miss the chance to try some of Sorbillo’s creative pies like the ricotta e salsiccia with creamy ricotta, pork sausage and smoked mozzarella. Be prepared to wait in line, but rest assured every bite is worth it.
Over in the hip Navigli district, Dry Milano puts its own spin on Neapolitan pizza traditions. Chef Lorenzo Sirabella focuses on seasonal, sustainable ingredients to create pizzas that are as beautiful as they are delicious. The montanara con funghi, topped with creamy burrata, wild mushrooms and truffle paste, is an absolute showstopper. And the inviting courtyard setting lined with greenery makes Dry a place to linger over pizza and drinks.
For a modern take on Roman-style pizza, head to Berberè. Chef Matteo Pifferi uses organic flour milled locally in Piedmont to craft puffy, char-speckled crusts. Creative toppings like butternut squash, speck and taleggio cheese on the zucca e speck pie keep things interesting. And Berberè’s craft beer list pairs perfectly with the crispy pies. With locations in Porta Venezia and Navigli, it’s easy to get your Berberè fix.
Over near Porta Genova, Pizza AM is a hip pizzeria with punk rock style and seriously good pizza. Chef Antonio Malafronte takes his dough fermentation process very seriously, resulting in flavorful, digestible crusts. The menu highlights regional Italian ingredients in pies like the capricciosa con pistacchio with artichokes, mushrooms, ham and shavings of pistachio. The vibe is lively and laidback - all the more fun for enjoying Pizza AM’s bold, creative pies.
For a break from Neapolitan tradition, Pizza OK is a must. This Egyptian pizzeria serves pies inspired by the unique style found in Hammamet, Tunisia. Chef Wael Samak prides himself on Pizza OK's super thin, crunchy crusts that verge on lace-like. Toppings range from classics like margherita to Eastern-inspired choices like the Delhi pie with chicken tikka and yogurt sauce. This affordable Navigli spot even offers budget meal deals perfect for the pizza lover on a budget.
What else is in this post?
- Belissimo! Foodies Dish on Milan's Tastiest Eats and Drinks - Pizza Perfection: Where to Find Milan's Top Pies
- Belissimo! Foodies Dish on Milan's Tastiest Eats and Drinks - Coffee Culture: Savoring Espresso Like a Local
- Belissimo! Foodies Dish on Milan's Tastiest Eats and Drinks - Aperitivo Hour: Milan's Beloved Ritual of Drinks and Bites
- Belissimo! Foodies Dish on Milan's Tastiest Eats and Drinks - Fresh Pasta Paradiso: Handmade Noodles Done Right
- Belissimo! Foodies Dish on Milan's Tastiest Eats and Drinks - Sweet Treats: Indulging in Gelato, Panettone and More
- Belissimo! Foodies Dish on Milan's Tastiest Eats and Drinks - Market Marvels: Shopping Milan's Captivating Food Markets
- Belissimo! Foodies Dish on Milan's Tastiest Eats and Drinks - Regional Cuisine: Exploring Lombardy's Unique Flavors
- Belissimo! Foodies Dish on Milan's Tastiest Eats and Drinks - Craft Cocktails: Milan's Hottest Bars Shake Up Creative Concoctions
Belissimo! Foodies Dish on Milan's Tastiest Eats and Drinks - Coffee Culture: Savoring Espresso Like a Local
Sipping an espresso while taking in the sights and sounds of Milan is an integral part of the city's culture. Locals don't just drink coffee - they live it. Milan's historic cafes are places to see and be seen while lingering over little cups of inky espresso.
A morning espresso sets the tone for the day ahead. The first sip of a smooth, intense espresso layered with bitter notes instantly focuses the mind. espresso is meant to be enjoyed standing at the bar counter, providing just the right jolt to tackle the day ahead. Locals sip their shots quickly, pay at the register and head out the door. But visitors can also sit and savor an espresso while soaking in a cafe's ambiance.
By late morning, the espresso experience transitions to cappuccino, a silky blend of espresso and steamed milk capped with froth. The ideal cappuccino balances rich espresso with just the right amount of milk in a ratio of one-third espresso, one-third steamed milk and one-third foam. Locals never order cappuccino after 11am, as the drink is considered better suited to mornings only. But for visitors, it provides a dose of caffeine along with a touch of indulgence any time of day.
Then comes aperitivo hour, when espresso drinks take a backseat to cocktails and nibbles. The Italian ritual of aperitivo starts in the late afternoon as locals unwind over drinks and small bites before dinner. Still, coffee makes an appearance in after-dinner beverages. Espresso drinks like caffè corretto (espresso "corrected" with a splash of liquor) or caffè al ghiaccio (iced espresso) offer a chance to linger over coffee's complex flavors.
Some of Milan's most atmospheric spots for coffee sipping include the ornate mosaic interior of Zucca in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Caffè Cova's wood-paneled elegance transports you back to 1817, when it first opened near La Scala. And Sant'Ambroeus channels old-world charm with its dapper waiters, marble counters and cash-only policy.
More contemporary options include Ceresio 7's chic rooftop terrace overlooking the city. At Dry Cocktail & Pizza, industrial-chic style melds with serious coffee and pizza amid lush greenery. Even Milan's Chinatown has its own coffee culture hub - Mukkio serves Asian-inspired coffee drinks and Taiwanese desserts.
Belissimo! Foodies Dish on Milan's Tastiest Eats and Drinks - Aperitivo Hour: Milan's Beloved Ritual of Drinks and Bites
For Milanese, the daily ritual of aperitivo is sacred. This beloved custom involves gathering for drinks and nibbles in the late afternoon before dinner. It's a chance to unwind, connect with friends new and old, and whet the appetite in anticipation of the feasting to come.
Aperitivo hour typically runs from around 6pm to 9pm, with many bars and cafes offering special aperitivo deals. These include a drink, usually a cocktail or glass of wine, accompanied by an all-you-can-eat buffet of small bites. For a fixed price that averages around €10-15 per person, it's a budget-friendly way to dine in Milan.
Most classic Italian aperitivo beverages have bitter herbal notes designed to stimulate the appetite. Campari and Aperol spritzes are wildly popular choices, as are Negronis and Americanos. But Milan also offers trendy riffs like the Rosemary Spritz, made with rosemary-infused gin, vermouth and seltzer. Wine drinkers can choose from vino bianco or rosso. During summer months, aperitivo happy hours spill out onto sunny terraces and courtyards for alfresco imbibing.
As for food, the spread may include classic Italian nibbles like bruschetta, cured meats, cheeses, and fried finger foods. But Milanese bars take it up a notch, with more elaborate displays of salads, pasta dishes, rotating hot entrées, panini and desserts. The quality and variety rivals dinner menus, with plenty of vegetarian options.
Bars take pride in attracting patrons with visually stunning buffets brimming with colors and textures. At CERESIO 7's chic rooftop bar, cascading flower wall installations provide a photogenic backdrop for the artful buffet. The TERRENA food market organizes its bountiful spread like a restaurant menu, with sections titled “To Begin,” “First Courses” and “Main Dishes.”
MIMOSA's lively aperitivo happy hour features creative culinary themes that change regularly. Past concepts have highlighted vegetarian nibbles, comfort foods, tacos and even foods from Chinese ethnic minorities. The welcoming staff enthusiastically explains each item.
Part of aperitivo's appeal lies in its unrestrained, come-one-come-all atmosphere. Groups of chatting friends seamlessly mingle with couples, families, students and office workers fresh off work. Regulars banter with bartenders while tourists eavesdrop and soak up local vibes. Strangers reconnect after chance encounters at previous aperitivos.
In Milan, even business deals get done over aperitivo's bite-sized plates and glasses of wine. Locals joke that more contracts in Milan are sealed between 6 and 9pm than 9 to 5. Aperitivo provides a casual setting to chat potential partners up while lowering inhibitions just enough with good food, wine and spirits.
Enthusiastic consumption is encouraged; Milan's aperitivo spreads are designed for grazing. There's little etiquette beyond starting with light appetizers before moving on to heavier bites, saving cocktails and desserts for last. Locals skillfully balance nibbling from plates in one hand while gesturing animatedly with the other. The occasional spill or stain simply adds to the anything-goes ambiance.
Belissimo! Foodies Dish on Milan's Tastiest Eats and Drinks - Fresh Pasta Paradiso: Handmade Noodles Done Right
In Milan, pasta is far more than just a dish - it's an art form. And when it comes to fresh pasta, the city boasts some of Italy's finest handmade noodles crafted with passion and precision. Forget about boxes of dried pasta from the grocery store - in Milan's fresh pasta paradise, making noodles is an exacting process that transforms simple ingredients into edible excellence.
The hallmark of exceptional fresh pasta is the dough itself. At pasta laboratories like Dall'Amico, master pasta-makers start with top-quality Italian wheat flour and semola flour. Mixing the flour with just eggs and a touch of water creates a silky, supple dough that's kneaded thoroughly before being fed through heavy rollers. Dall'Amico and other artisanal pasta-makers refuse to cut corners with fillers like water or oil that undermine dough's delicate chemistry. The result is pasta with exceptional texture that tastes like pure wheat.
Another key factor is using heritage equipment that shapes each noodle's unique form. Osteria Il Kaimano's kitchen houses a rare bronze pasta extruder that imparts character into noodle types like tagliatelle and tortelloni. And Dall'Amico's ravioli mold forms perfect half-moons filled with ricotta made from sheep's milk. Pursuing pasta perfection means crafting noodles not just by hand, but with help from specialized tools.
Of course, exemplary execution extends beyond equipment to sheer skill. Watching an abile pastaio swiftly transform mere dough into meters of silky pasta is humbling. At factories like artisanal pasta purveyor La Latteria, nimble hands guide dough through rollers, effortlessly catching noodles and laying them out to dry. Decades of daily practice give pasta-makers an intuitive kinesthetic flow. Their mastery exudes passion for the centuries-old craft of pasta-making.
Milan's fresh pasta prowess shines through in tantalizing dishes at restaurants like Osteria Il Kaimano. House-made saffron tagliolini swirled in browned butter and dusted with bottarga roe makes an exquisite yet simple first course. Tortelloni stuffed with ricotta and herbs shine when napped with sage butter. And lasagne impossibly refined, with microscopic layers of fresh pasta and besciamella sauce.
Beyond restaurants, small pasta shops sell fresh noodles to take home or try on the spot. At pasta factory La Latteria's retail store, luminous lasagne and spinach ricotta ravioli beckon behind glass counters. Grab some tortellini or pappardelle, then dine al fresco at nearby tables with wine. Or head to Luini for their famed Panzerotti stuffed with mouthwatering fillings encased in golden fried dough.
Belissimo! Foodies Dish on Milan's Tastiest Eats and Drinks - Sweet Treats: Indulging in Gelato, Panettone and More
Milan offers indulgent sweets to satisfy any craving, from creamy gelato to airy pastries. For those with a sweet tooth, a visit here feels like an expedition through lands of chocolate, hazelnuts and panettone. Gelato stands fetch long lines from morning 'til midnight. Bakeries overflow with sugar-dusted creations begging to be devoured over a cappuccino. The city embraces sweets unabashedly, encouraging visitors to abandon diets for a day or three.
Gelato’s allure proves hard to resist even in winter. But Milanese gelato shines brightest during hot summer months when locals flock to gelaterias daily. The city spoils gelato lovers for choice, with competing claims over who crafts Milan's best frozen treats.
At Grom, gelato makers start with high quality ingredients like Stracciatella milk from heritage Italian Friesian cows. Intense yet balanced chocolate gelato seduces hardcore cacao lovers. Exotic sorbetti like Tahitian vanilla or pink grapefruit satisfy fruit-flavored cravings minus guilty calories. For a delectable contrast, go half-and-half with the Crema di Grom and Chocolate Chip flavors. But purists say you can’t beat the pistachio gelato's vibrant color and smooth nutty essence.
Over at Artico, gelato maestro Simone Paniga pushes creative boundaries with unexpected flavors. His gelato incarnates basil’s peppery, herbaceous notes or the Muscat grapes’ honeyed perfume. The Oro Nero combines signature Piedmontese hazelnuts with intensely dark chocolate. Stop by on Thursdays when Paniga concocts new weekly specials like apple crumble or tiramisu gelato reflecting seasonal ingredients.
Not just gelato shops, but also pasticcerie (pastry shops) provide sugar fixes. At Martesana a few steps from Sant'Ambrogio market, creative crostate flaunt decadent fillings sealed inside crumbly shortcrust. Their zucca e amaretti features pumpkin and crushed amaretti cookies, while another stars nutella and hazelnuts.
Sweet-toothed shoppers load up on nibbles like fruit tarts and millefoglie pastry layered with zabaione cream. But Martesana’s pièce de résistance? A giant panettone so tall, buyers must cradle it like a baby. Available year-round but especially beloved during Christmas, this iconic sweet bread studded with raisins and candied fruit proves more irresistible than panettone from luxury brands.
Speaking of panettone, Pasticceria Cucchi shines bright as Milan’s panettone pioneer. Since 1936, the Cucchi family has baked legendary panettone sold in charming vintage candy-striped boxes. Biting into their signature panettone reveals a symphony of vanilla, citrus and rum enlivening the dough’s eggy richness. Fluffy consistency comes from long leavening and avoiding chemical additives some industrial panettone rely on.
Beyond panettone, Cucchi seduces visitors with chocolate treats created by maestro chocolatier Mirco Della Vecchia. Gianduiotti chocolates flecked with whole hazelnuts offer smooth cocoa indulgence. Della Vecchia conjures miniature chocolate shoes and purses almost too cute to eat. It takes serious willpower to avoid devouring an entire box before leaving the shop.
Belissimo! Foodies Dish on Milan's Tastiest Eats and Drinks - Market Marvels: Shopping Milan's Captivating Food Markets
Milan's markets captivate foodies and culture vultures alike with a bounty of sights, scents and flavors. From fresh fruits and artisanal salumi to everyday staples and regional specialties, open-air markets offer an authentic peek into Italian food culture. Wandering market stalls feels both comfortably familiar yet intriguingly exotic.
At the sprawling Mercato Metropolitano near Porta Genova station, a Rochester expat described feeling "transported back to my childhood" amid heaps of vivid produce. But blendings of global cuisines reflect Milan's cosmopolitanism. She balanced sushi and Indian curries with Italian cheeses and seafood, relishing this "chance to explore without ever leaving one building."
Even locals find surprises in Milan's markets. An architect who has lived in Milan for 15 years enjoys Mercato Metropolitano for experiences like "happening upon a new craft beer from a microbrewery in Piedmont." He compares perusing the market to "browsing a great bookshop - there's joy in not knowing what you'll discover."
For foodies, part of what captivates about markets is connecting personally with purveyors passionate about quality. At the Saturday farmers' market near Porta Romana, a local chef seeks out his favorite vegetable seller, who "takes real pride in his gorgeous produce." The seller always remembers this loyal customer, setting aside the plumpest tomatoes he knows the chef will transform into remarkable dishes.
That authentic interaction enriches the experience beyond grocery shopping. A first-time visitor felt Mercato Comunale Laghetto's "bustling energy" reminded her of markets in Marrakesh and Bangkok. But Laghetto's intimate size allowed her to chat with vendors and fellow shoppers in a way mega-markets don't. She left not just with delicious mortadella and Parmigiano Reggiano, but warmer connections to Milan.
Even traditional indoor markets feel special because their chaotic vibrancy counters cookie-cutter supermarket aesthetics. Sant'Ambrogio market's art nouveau iron-and-glass pavilion barely contains seemingly endless aisles crammed with everything from fresh pasta to paper lamps. The competing perfumes of cheeses, roasted chicken and baked goods mingle dizzyingly.
A local children's book author says Sant'Ambrogio's "slightly grimy and totally alive" vibe provides inspiration when she needs help envisioning settings. It reconnects her with the sensual details that infuse Milan's essence.
Belissimo! Foodies Dish on Milan's Tastiest Eats and Drinks - Regional Cuisine: Exploring Lombardy's Unique Flavors
Beyond Milan's city limits, the pleasures of Lombardy's regional cuisine beckon foodie explorers. This area spanning Milan and lakes Como and Garda thrives on local, seasonal ingredients crafted into rustic dishes with big, bold flavors.
"I grew up near Milan but never realized the diversity of tastes so close by until I started exploring Lombardy's small towns," says Martina, who works for a tech startup in Milan. She and her partner escape the city most weekends to dine in places like Bergamo, Mantua and Brescia. "You don't need to drive for hours to immerse yourself in authentic local food experiences."
One revelation was Mantua, a charming medieval city south of Lake Garda. During the annual Festivaletteratura honoring Mantua native Virgil, Martina discovered agnoli. These plump ravioli envelop melty cheese in tender pasta pockets, then get dunked in broth or tomato sauce. She recalls agnoli at Osteria delle Quattro Tette feeling "like the essence of Mantua on a plate."
Up north in Alpine Valtellina, Marco experienced another regional epiphany via hearty Buckwheat polenta taragna. "It was so creamy yet earthy and wholesome, paired with oozing cheeses from small producers," he says. After tasting this nutty gluten-free polenta, the Milan native vowed to return.
Food writer Giulia embraces opportunities like Milan's Mercato Metropolitano market to broaden her Lombardy knowledge. There she first tried missoltini, Lake Como's famed dried fish preserved in salt and bay leaves. "I expected chewy jerky but missoltini melted in my mouth like sashimi! Now I buy it directly from the artisanal producer's shop near Bellagio."
For chef Mario, Lake Garda's western shores proffer inspiration via dishes like cazoeula. "It's such a hyper-local one-pot meal, with ingredients all sourced within kilometers," he explains. Potatoes, beans, sausage and handmade pasta meld irresistibly after hours of simmering. The recipe originated as cheap sustenance for fishermen butemerged as Garda's signature comfort food.
"Big flavors like tart goat gorgonzola cheese and sweet amaretti cookies really sing in this part of Italy," Martina notes. She appreciates how even fine dining chefs like Riccardo Camanini incorporate local products into refined seasonal tasting menus. "They don't need to rely on fancy imported ingredients from far away."
Belissimo! Foodies Dish on Milan's Tastiest Eats and Drinks - Craft Cocktails: Milan's Hottest Bars Shake Up Creative Concoctions
In recent years, Milan has developed a thriving craft cocktail scene that entices visitors to branch out beyond Aperol spritzes and Negronis. Creative mixologists are concocting refreshing new elixirs that expand perceptions of what Italian drinks can be. These skillful bartenders forage local markets for produce, herbs and other ingredients to incorporate into imaginative cocktails. Their passion for mixology transforms classic liquors into modern magic.
"I love exploring Milan's craft cocktail bars because each one offers unique perspectives," says Claudio, an architect who enjoys the city's nightlife. "One bar near Porta Venezia had a cocktail containing an Italian bitter liqueur called Amaro Isolabella I'd never tried before. The bartender explained that it's produced by monks in Piedmont, which made me appreciate the complex herbal notes even more."
Marika, who writes for a spirits website, has visited cocktail dens all over Italy. But she was blown away by a bar tucked away in Milan's Isola neighborhood called Mag Cafè. "Everything from the edgy industrial decor to the super-professional bartenders made it feel worlds apart from touristy places downtown. Watching the bartenders free-pour and measure ingredients for each drink was like observing artists."
One of Mag Cafè's specialties Marika loved was the Orto Zero Km, or "zero kilometer garden." The bartender muddled fresh sage leaves with ginger syrup and lime, adding gin and a dash of absinthe for complexity. "You could really taste the herbaceousness," Marika recalls. "It made me feel connected to Milan and Lombardy's local terroir in a whole new way."
Seasonality inspires many Milan bartenders to regularly dream up new cocktail recipes based on what's fresh at markets. At Botanical Club, a greenhouse-style bar in Porta Romana, the summer menu highlights sunny ingredients like peaches, basil and tomato water. Bartender Silvia says, "We get to play with flavors you don't find in winter. Right now we're infusing gin with juicy ripe yellow plums for a new riff on the French 75."
Some visitors appreciate Milan's craft cocktail renaissance for making high-quality drinks more accessible. Management consultant Jessica says, "Getting an amazing cocktail used to mean going to a fancy hotel bar and spending €20. Now so many cool, intimate bars are serving incredible drinks for under €10. It creates this laid-back vibe that makes trying new things fun rather than intimidating."
Indeed, craft cocktail dens often cultivate convivial atmospheres where chatting with bartenders feels natural. Mattia, who owns a small Milan bar called The Spirit, says interacting with customers fuels his passion. "I get excited sharing cocktail-making secrets like how citrus peel enhances flavor. Regulars will even tell me ingredients they have at home, and I'll whip up something custom."