With its all-white interiors and fisherman-basket lampshades, seafood sandwich shop Pescaria looks like it was plucked from a small seaside town and dropped down in the middle of Milan, just steps away from the city’s shiny new high-rises. And that’s not too far from the truth—a much beloved eatery in Polignano a Mare, a picturesque town on Italy’s southern Adriatic coast, Pescaria launched its Milan outpost in 2016. The narrow eatery is crammed with fashionable locals who are willing to brave the long lines for a bite of the restaurant’s transcendent sandwiches, which combine the freshest seafood with an array of unexpected ingredients, like pesto, fried turnip greens and crunchy artichokes. Go for their signature octopus sandwich—the lightly fried octopus is the right balance of crispy and juicy and pairs beautifully with a rich ricotta cheese.
Address: Via Nino Bonnet, 5 Milan
The seasonal menu at Un Posto a Milano is simple, fresh and elegant, much like its digs in a restored 18th-century farmhouse hidden among Porta Romana’s apartment blocks. Chef Nicola Cavallaro sources produce from local farms and crafts dishes that ooze an understated excellence. In the summer, grab a table on the outdoor patio or in the front dining room, a vaulted space with exposed red brick walls, outsized windows and muted color accents: sea green Formica tabletops, Eton blue chairs and apricot orange and straw yellow wall panels. In the winter, hunker down in the back room, where the low ceilings and a massive fireplace, when combined with one of the restaurant’s homemade pastas, make you feel as warm and snug as an oversized wool jacket.
Address:Via Privata Cuccagna, 2 Milan
With only a few tables, this ramen joint in Isola is worth the inevitable wait if only to taste an Italian chef’s take on the Japanese noodle dish. While the rest of Milan is enamored with sushi, owner Luca Catalfamo fell in love with ramen, seeing a similarity between the Japanese staple and Italian cuisine. His broth is rich and certain versions, like Miso On Fire, have quite a kick to them. But ramen purists should be forewarned that Catalfamo likes to tinker with his ramen formula, evident in his decision to make his noodles with durum wheat flower, which is traditionally used to make pasta.
Address: Via Luigi Porro Lambertenghi, 25 Milan
This old fashioned trattoria in Porta Romana serves Calabrian dishes to a perennially packed dining room full of locals who come to chatter away with friends over plates of hearty food. Family-run, Dongiò is a vanishing breed, one of those typical trattorias that you can count on for good food at reasonable prices. The kitchen specializes in southern home cooking, like the restaurant’s signature dish, spaghettoni alla tamarro, a fresh pasta dish with tomato sauce and n’duja sausage, a spicy spreadable sausage paste commonly found down south made of pig shoulder and belly, as well as organ meat. If you’re vegetarian, order their parmigiana di melanzane, the Italian precursor to the popular Italian-American dish eggplant Parmesan—it’s a gooey reminder that the original is almost always better.
Address: Via Bernardino Corio, 3 Milan
Moncler chairman Remo Ruffini frequently presides over a table in this cozy restaurant in the center of town. “It’s tucked inside a courtyard, like a hidden secret,” says Ruffini, who swears by the paccheri pasta with pachino tomatoes and basil.
Address: Via Montenapoleone, 13, Milan 20121, Itay
La Briciola counts Milan’s who’s who as its regulars, and there are many reasons why. Besides owners Stefania and Gianni’s warm hospitality, La Briciola’s no-nonsense approach to Milanese specialities, Italian dishes and a wide variety of wines has made this an urban icon for nearly 40 years
Address: Via Marsala, 1, 20121 Milano MI, Italy
On the outskirts of the city, Erba Brusca is a rural retreat whose short and sweet menu features ingredients from the adjoining garden, bringing diners closer in tune with the land. Run by the French-American chef Alice Delcourt, whose partner Danilo Ingannamorte is the sommelier and maître d’, this informal spot is particularly popular on weekends, when the Milanese escape to the countryside and mountains that ring the city. Although the menu changes regularly, a reliably delicious mainstay is the pasta with clams, truffles and wild sorrel (erba brusca). Pair it with a natural wine from their expertly curated wine list.
Address: Alzaia Naviglio Pavese, 286 Milan