Milan’s status as a bustling and cosmopolitan hub of energy is very much reflected in its dining scene. As a crossroads of both global and Italian cultures, the choice of restaurants available in Milan is wildly varied. A city often ruled by fickle fads - in terms of both fashion and food - every few years, a trend will sweep across town to shake up the restaurant scene. Recently, the city has seen sushi spots and burger bars pop up in places where no restaurant ever seemed imaginable and at an astonishing rate. Always ahead of the curve, Milan is constantly searching for the next big trend.
But in spite of this dynamic and forward-facing attitude, one of the most endearing aspects of the food culture in the city, and in Italy as a whole, is the pride taken in regional cuisine. The history, culture and identity of each region is so intertwined with the food prepared there that it is virtually impossible to separate them. This means that in Milan, it is not rare to see sophisticated and contemporary fusion eateries line up beside traditional, homespun trattorie.
Close borders mean that traditional milanese dishes draw on Austrian and German influences. Highlights include cotoletta, a buttery veal cutlet wrapped in bread crumbs, and ossobuco alla milanese, a veal shank stew braised in white wine and broth. Other examples include risotto alla milanese, rice hailing from the Po Valley and tinted a golden yellow colour with saffron, and cassoeula, a stew made from verza cabbage and leftover pork bits.
During the economic miracle of the 1950s, Milan flourished while the rest of the country floundered. As a result, many southern Italians flocked to the city in search of better a fortune. With them they brought the colourful flavours of their villages in the south. Pizza from Naples, burrata cheese from Apulia, spicy salami from Calabria and many other regional delights became a mainstay on tables all over Milan. These influences can still be seen in the city today, where a rich tapestry of regional produce and dishes are readily available in the many speciality restaurants all over the city.
More recently, big business has meant that Milan has seen much more of an international influence on its eating habits. Sunday brunch is now ubiquitous, with many cafès and bistros offering American-style buffets stuffed with pancakes and scrambled eggs. Immigration has seen a rise in African and middle-eastern restaurants dotted around the city.
Whatever your taste, Milan has something for you. There is no doubt that you’ll have the opportunity to eat some of Italy’s most memorable and sophisticated creations in this foodie hub.
€ expect to have more than enough to eat and not spend more than €12 - 15
€€ a two course-meal and some table wine could cost you between €15 - 30
€€€ a full three-course meal won't cost you less than €45
€€€€ you're in a top-end restaurant and be prepared to spend over €60