Travelers to Milan might find the city’s culinary offerings atypical of what you’d expect from other parts of Italy. Rice is preferred over pasta; the sauces are thick and hearty; and the main dishes contain meat rather than seafood. This slightly different food culture was influenced by various ethnic backgrounds that conquered Milan. Also, the city’s current stature as Italy’s economic capital draws an international crowd and with it, the desire for continuously evolving cuisine. Though Milan has outstanding fusion restaurants, travelers wanting to sample traditional Italian food ought to start with these must have Milanese dish.
Must Have Milanese Dish
Risotto alla Milanese
It might sound simple, but a good risotto is often hard to find. The dish itself requires precision when cooked to get the perfect consistency and the right balance of flavors. The Milanese version is saffron-infused and cooked with a sinful amount of butter. Restaurants serve it as a first-course or as accompaniment for main dishes such as osso bucco or cassoeula.
Where to go: There are plenty of locations to try this must have Milanese dish but ask locals and they will likely direct you to Ratanà or to Trattoria Masuelli San Marco.
Ratanà: Via Gaetano de Castillia, 28
Trattoria Masuelli San Marco: Viale Umbria, 80
If you only have an opportunity to seek out one must have Milanese dish, then save your appetite for osso bucco. The region’s most iconic dish is both filling and delicious! The veal shank is stewed and simmered with onions, carrots, celery, white wine and broth. The resulting meat literally falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. Often served with risotto alla Milanese, it is the dish of choice by both locals and visitors alike.
Where to go: Osteria dell’Acquabella near Porta Romana is your best bet. This non-descript, family-run restaurant has a menu that’s strictly Italian.
Address: Via S. Rocco, 11
It’s hard to argue against trying this other must have Milanese dish, especially if you’re a fan of meat. The cotoletta might look the more popular schnitzel, but this Italian version has history dating back to the time of the Roman Empire. Often made from veal that’s breaded and fried in butter (yes, butter!), it’s surprisingly not dense. Served with potatoes or polenta on the side, it’s a dish that if prepared well, one can eat almost every day.
More recently, different varieties of the dish are becoming more prevalent. Restaurants are experimenting with thinner cuts of veal; boneless cuts of meat, or substituting chicken. Stick with the traditional thick-cut and bone-in version though. You only live once after all and will likely be staying in Milan but a limited time.
Where to go: Head to Trattoria del Nuovo Macello, a long-standing traditional trattoria where you can try a traditional preparation.
Address: Via Cesare Lombroso, 20