Located in the Lombardy province, Milan and its surrounding towns have long been viewed as gastronomic destinations. It is interesting to note that in this region, rice is traditionally preferred to pasta and tomatoes are used sparingly. With its focus on meat and on buttery flavours, the region’s cuisine is ideal for the winter. Classic dishes from the area include osso buco – stewed veal shank that’s typically served with risotto alla Milanese, a creamy risotto lightly flavoured with saffron; cassoeula, a meaty stew of pork chops and sausage; and cotoletta alla Milanese, a breadcrumb-coated veal cutlet which is similar to schnitzel.
For cheese lovers, Lombardy is a must-visit on account of its specialities, including Taleggio, gorgonzola and grana padano, while at Christmas, the area is renowned for its panettone, fragant sweetbread made with candied citrus zest and raisins. Milan’s leading restaurants uphold the city’s reputation not only for gastronomic excellence but for eye-catching design and innovative concepts.
Filippo La Mantia
Having established a much-praised restaurant in Rome, chef Filippo La Mantia set up a new venture in Milan. Expect La Mantia’s signature style of southern Italian home cooking, with a menu full of vibrant dishes such as citrus fruit pesto, caponata, and veal with pecorino cheese and a toasted almond sauce. The dishes are inspired by La Filippo’s Sicilian upbringing but, as the chef is keen to explain, his new enterprise encompasses far more than food to showcase his other passions, including wine, music, motorcycles and photography. The restaurant has been designed by Italian architect Piero Lissoni and the impressive two-storey space includes a day bar and a night bar as well as an area for cookery displays.
Filippo La Mantia, Piazza Risorgimento/Via Poerio 2A, 20129 Milan, +39 02 7000 5309
Pisacco aims to provide a home-from-home atmosphere while serving exceptional food and paying homage to the arts. Consultant chef Andrea Berton, whose Ristorante Trussardi Alla Scala in Milan was awarded two Michelin stars, oversees Pisacco’s menu of ‘traditionally modern Italian cuisine’. Even dishes that may appear to be simple turn out to be packed with flavour, such as the spaghetti with tomato, basil and buffalo milk mozzarella sauce. The classic regional dish of risotto alla Milanese benefits from Pisacco’s touch. The bar is the perfect spot for all-day light bites: try the Toast Berton, crusty bread with fabulous quality prosciutto and Asiago cheese. A striking mural by Gabriella Ciancimino provides a talking point, along with the frequently changing collection of contemporary art.
Pisacco, Via Solferino 48, 20121 Milan, +39 02 9176 5472
Fine dining and denim may sound like a strange proposition, but fashion brand Replay has made a success out of this idea. The restaurant is housed in the same building as Replay’s recently opened multi-experience store on Piazza Gae Aulenti and has been created by award-winning designers Roman and Williams. The interior of the opulent dining room has been inspired by traditional cinemas and classic Italian liners, with plenty of glossy, curved African mahogany. Chef Omar Allievi oversees a menu which is divided into five sections – traditional, discovery, ceviche, sushi and sashimi – and includes modern Milanese dishes. Have a drink at Octavius, the adjoining ‘house of spirits and fancy drinks’ where guests can enjoy expertly made cocktails at the sleek steel and brass bar.
The Stage, Piazza Gae Aulenti 4, 20124 Milan, +39 02 3707 4118
Alice Ristorante’s chef Viviana Varese grew up in the kitchen of her family’s fish restaurant in the Campania region of south-west Italy. She developed her culinary skills at renowned establishments such as El Celler de Can Roca in Spain and went on to take over Alice Ristorante, an already established restaurant, with Sandra Ciciriello in 2007. Alice Ristorante is now located on the second floor of the Milan branch of Eataly (a small chain of high-end food malls), overlooking Piazza 25 Aprile. The dining room is decorated with ornaments and plants chosen by the women, which reference the origins of the restaurant and of the chef. Fish and vegetables form the backbone of the menu and highlights include carpaccio of fresh fish with fruit and herbs, as well as the Superspaghettino featuring squid julienne and clams.
Alice Ristorante, Eataly, Piazza 25 Aprile 10, 20121 Milan, +39 02 4949 7340
Carlo E Camilla
Carlo Cracco’s latest venture invites diners into a rather surreal world. Although located in a former sawmill in Milan, Carlo e Camilla sets out to recreate a country home, to beautiful effect. There are spectacular crystal chandeliers, while the furnishings focus on Italian design – think Cappellini chairs and ceramics by Richard Ginori. Diners sit at two long intersecting tables to encourage a communal and convivial atmosphere while, in the kitchen, executive chef Emanuele Pollini creates a regularly changing menu of traditional Italian recipes with a contemporary twist. Master bartender Filippo Sisti mixes showstopping cocktails at the bar, many of which utilise cooking techniques such as baking, pan-frying and vacuum packing for maximum effect.
Carlo e Camilla, Segheria, Via Giuseppe Meda 24, 20141 Milan, +39 02 837 3963