Unlike the outward magnificence of Rome, Milan is a hidden city. You have to enjoy the little frames of the town in order to fully appreciate it. This means getting into the courtyards, finding Milan's little corners, her small squares and hidden gardens. It’s often a difficult city for tourists—if you're in a rush you only see the main squares and you'll miss the soul of the city.
Here at Nancy Aiello Tours, we've planned dozens of trips to Milan and have deep local knowledge on the city's best restaurants and wine bars. If you are wondering where to eat in Milan, below are 20 of our favorite food & spots.
Hopping over the Lake Como next? Read up on the best restaurants with a view.
The Best Restaurants In Milan
Ristorante Da Giacomo
Since the late 50s everyone has passed through Giacomo, from Barack Obama to Mick Jagger, from Bono Vox to Madonna. It’s an elegant, old-world trattoria that serves traditional food and makes you feel like you’re sitting in a restaurant straight out of the middle ages. Here you will be delighted with the traditional dishes of the Milanese cuisine such as the Risotto alla Milanese or the Cotoletta by you’ll also find some of the best seafood in town whipped up by Executive Chef Emanuele Settel.
Il Salumaio Di Montenapoleone
Right in the fashion district, this restaurant serves some of the best-cured meats in the city. It sits right on the courtyard of one of the most beautiful ancient buildings of Milan, a courtyard that makes you feel like you’re jumping back to the 1600s. It’s a peculiar place, but a great spot for a super-flavorful lunch.
Antica Trattoria Della Pesa
When you think of Milan, the dish that immediately comes to mind is cotoletta a orecchio di elefante. It's a piece of veal that has been very thinly pressed to resemble an elephant ear that is then deep-fried. Milan is home to the best cotoletta in all of Italy, and this trattoria has the best cotoletta in Milan. It’s a very old trattoria that's been around for 100 years, where many famous poets, writers, and singers used to eat. This is a place you come to for the meats, pastas, and risotto.
Ratana looks like a restaurant plucked straight out of TriBeca; it was also one of the first restaurants in Milan where you could eat at the bar. The chef has a deep knowledge of the local ingredients and products he uses, and is constantly changing the menu with the seasons. This is a place where, in December you won't find dishes that you ate in November. The focus here is on contemporary Italian based almost exclusively on dishes from Lombardy. It's really a place for people who love food and love to be exposed to cooking from a chef who uses hyper-local ingredients.
This rooftop spot is on the top of La Triennale di Milano, a great place to wind down after a day of checking out the museum. The architecture of the restaurant is pretty amazing, with entirely windowed walls that make both lunch and dinner beautiful experiences. You’re eating while looking out on Sempione Park with a view of the Duomo and Sforzesco Castle on one side and the new skyline on the other, making for one of the most unique locations in the world. And if it isn’t enough you have to know that their food is amazing (seasonal, local with a fancy twist) and their cocktails too! So if you are in town don’t miss a lunch or dinner there. Make sure to make a reservation far in advance.
Trattoria Arlati, a 20-minute taxi ride from the center of Milano, serves the best Milanese food. It's elegant, classic, and full of history and soul. Even if you have just 2 days in Milan, if you are a real food lover, it's worth it to make the effort to come here and snag a spot in the dining room. This restaurant has been owned by the same family for 150 years and makes the kind of rich, heavy Italian food that everyone but vegetarians can love. Arlati is a cozy, wintery place where you’ll find the best risotto in town to go with some really incredible meats. For any chef from New York, this is the place to go to see classic Milanese food done really well. A great place for a big date or an important celebration with family and friends.
Milan is not a city for brunch, but if you're looking for one really great place, make sure to check out Al Fresco. The space is divided into different rooms and has a great outdoor garden that makes you feel like you’re eating out in the countryside. It’s Italian food, but they have tapas, small plates, and lots of fresh vegetables to make for a really interesting meal—don't miss the artichokes.
This is a great spot for someone looking to eat some excellent fish and seafood: oysters, crab, shrimp, langoustines and caviar. The space is beautiful, and it’s an amazing osteria to go with family and friends, sit for a long time and watch people go in and out. The raw fish is unbelievable, and the restaurant as a whole specializes in lobster.
Bianca Restaurant Milan
A white food paradise in town! Once you get in, immediately, you feel surrounded by a special cocooning atmosphere: the space is total white, except for some flower that adds a splash of colors; the music is soft and the food…unique!
Open only for dinner, this pizza place specializes in Neapolitan style pizza: puffy and light crust, crumbly bite, the result of a long-ripening indirect dough, with stone-ground flours and cooking in an electric oven. From the point of view of the selection of ingredients, high quality raw materials, favoring organic production, and Slow Food presidia.
Probably the best delicatessens in Milan Peck has been a grocery store for over 140 years. Opened in 1883 by Francesco Peck, a butcher of Czech origins, over the decades it has seen its fortune grow, becoming the delicatessen it is today. A real food boutique: cheeses from every corner of the world, meats of different ageing, gourmet products such as porcini mushrooms, foie gras, truffles, caviar and bottarga. At Peck you can also eat thanks to the various restaurants: Piccolo Peck, a gastronomic café located on the ground floor of via Spadari, in the heart of the historic shop in the city center or at Peck City Life, the company's new bistro’.
Starting from the concept of gastronomy, Stadera is among the most convincing new generation formats ever. It can be defined as a latest generation gastronomy that borrows recipes, attitude and atmosphere from the past but with a completely contemporary twist. Behind the success of this store and modern trattoria in the Crocetta area is chef Aldo Ritrovato who takes us back in time with dishes such as boiled chicken in salad, pasta with tomato sauce, cuttlefish tagliatelle, stuffed artichoke and braised cheek.
Cucchi is one of the oldest bakeries in the city. It’s located in Porta Genova in a little square with a bunch of tables outside. At one point, this place was the home away from home for many philosophers, writers, and journalists, and it’s continued to be a perfect place to meet creative people of all kinds. You can go sit in the square, savor a long breakfast, and enjoy not just the fantastic cornetto, but the chance to see and understand the vibe of what’s happening in the city.
Breakfast, lunch and “aperitivo” and in btw…let’s say is one of the coolest places in town. Their “quadrotto” sandwiches and lunch combo are simply made with fresh and seasonal ingredients and from 6.00pm they make delicious cocktails.
Premiato Forno Cantoni
Open from breakfast (with fantastic cornetto) to dinner, is a charming space, with a retrò atmosphere and a lot of attention to the details. Food is good, traditional milanese (meat above all) and is the ideal place to go for a brunch or a dinner with family and friends.
In case you love greek and mediterranean food, in case you are looking for a chic/retro place, in case you want truly uncommon place…you got it!
The Best Wine Bars In Milan
Dolce & Gabbana Bar Martini
The fashion crowd loves this stylish, Art Deco-inspired bar for an aperitivo, a cocktail or a light lunch. Born out of a joint venture between D&G; and Martini, it's in the heart of the fashion district, off a courtyard behind the D&G; menswear store. The place is known for the huge, one-of-a-kind Murano glass chandelier that hangs in the middle of the room, with tables and comfortable leather sofas all around. They have an extensive drinks menu, as well as an innovative and creative Martini list.
N'Ombra De Vin
Milan, more than anywhere else in Italy, is the capital of the aperitivo. At the end of the work day, the Milanese all gather at their favorite spot for a drink and an hour of snacking on a small selection of pizza, olives, breads, and some nuts. For one of the city’s best, head to this wine bar near the San Marco church for an incredible glass and a truly relaxing hour. If you’re a wine lover, make sure to ask to see the cellar, where you can get a little tour and check out the massive barrels where the restaurant stores the wine.
This is another fantastic place for a wine lover. It’s not quite as fancy as N’Ombra, but it has a wine collection that is really unique in this city. It's more of an 'insider' place—if you're a real wine and Champagne lover, this is the place.
Dry is an eatery in the heart of Brera with the best mozzarella pizza and cocktails in town. Before you arrive, be sure to have a little walk down Via San Marco and Via Solferino—and afterwards, a scoop of gelato.
Heading to Milan but don't have time to plan—or just not sure where to start? Get paired with an Italy expert to custom build your trip. No two Nancy Aiello Tours itineraries are the same since every single one is built with considerations for your preferred pace of travel, budget, interests, and so much more.