There are very few things that are as renowned as Italian cuisine. The motor car, the internet, football perhaps. That’s probably about it.
But what’s funny is that behind its singular international façade, Italian cuisine is a fierce and eternal battle between its different regions.
The Milanese of the Lombardy region are no different. They’re fiercely proud of their culinary history and achievements. And to give you an introduction to that world, we’ve put together a guide to 10 of the best fine dining restaurants in Milan.
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1) Spazio Niko Romito
Spazio Niko Romito is a beautifully stylish restaurant in Milan that is underpinned by deft touches of modern and vintage design features.
It’s open throughout the day for those looking for a drink or book a table for food.
The cuisine is quintessentially Italian dishes and brings them into the present day. The menu offers a six-course tasting experience. Or just pick and choose what you like!
Perhaps start with pan-fried veal and creamy mashed potatoes. Or homemade tortellini? The turbot meunière is a standout main, and finish off in style with the pan dulce.
Serica is the meeting of two heavyweight world cuisines: Italian and Chinese. It’s a bold fusion concept driven by chef and owner Chang Liu.
Aside from the international collaboration of ingredients and technique, the menu has a strong focus on seasonality.
If you can’t quite picture this menu’s mystical combination, how do wontons filled with Emilian and parmesan sauce sound? Or how about a pigeon xin jiong, escorted by a pumpkin confit, with chanterelles and spinach sauce?
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Seta is in the five-star Mandarin Oriental hotel. Now, you don’t get five stars with a poor restaurant, do you?
The hotel and restaurant have a focus on setting high standards when it comes to design. As you’ll see from the rich blue palette, subtle marble, and warm wood, the bar has been set high.
When it comes to the food, chef Antonio Guida has raised the bar too. The premise is beautiful; it’s Tuscan cuisine, brought to high definition through French techniques.
A highlight is the eel glazed in red wine. It’s served with foie gras, rosemary sauce, oysters, and potatoes.
Savini is a sacred Milanese institution. Since opening its doors in 1867, Generation after Generation have patronised this classy restaurant.
What is so special about Savini is how its clients reflect the city as a whole. From the sharply suited business elite to locals, and even tourists, it’s a Milan attraction in its own right.
There are two layers to Savin: the Caffè Bistrot, a veranda on the ground floor, and the gourmet restaurant on the 1st floor, overlooking the incomparable Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
If visiting Italy’s oldest active shopping mall isn’t reason enough, with its beautiful iron roof and classic facade, then the traditional fine dining surely is!
5) Felix lo Basso
In the very same historic cathedral of consumption, you’ll find Felix lo Basso on the top floor.
It overlooks the Duomo, one of the largest catholic cathedrals in the world. So beautiful, and so big, it took over 600 years to build. So, it goes without saying, the terrace has some of the best views in the city. Anyone fancy an aperitivo?
Oh, and it’s a Michelin star restaurant in Milan. You’re offered the choice of two tasting menus; both are modern renditions of what Italian cuisine means in this 21st century.
Giacomo is a stunning restaurant in Milan. It perfectly encapsulates the vibe of the early 20th century, so for those with nostalgic tendencies, you’re going to love it.
It is designed in the spirit of an English gentleman’s lounge combined with the colour of a French bistro.
To taste the cuisine is to travel back in time. It’s home to high-quality meats and game. It’s presented and prepared in the simplest of ways, which is testament to the ingredients’ strength: they’re allowed and encouraged to speak for themselves.
Ristorante Giaomo was famously the favourite of a one Giorgio Armani. So if that isn’t a stamp of authority in the column of style, culture, and sophistication, then what is?
7) Trussardi alla Scala
As many famous chefs have said before, getting a Michelin Star is hard. Keeping it is harder. Trussardi alla Scala won their Michelin Star in 2013, and show no signs of letting it go.
You’ll find it by the Teatro alla Scala, or as the locals call it, the Opera House, right in the centre of the city.
Their philosophy is simple: to celebrate the tradition of Italian cuisine through the creativity of experimentation. The only rule is that the menu is seasonal. So take that as a guarantee that what you’re eating is fresh and unique.
The decor is a simple but elegant motif, as well. There are huge windows so all the world can look on in envy.
8) Ristorante Cracco
Ristorante Cracco is another of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele IIs’ resident fine dining restaurants in Milan. Although the restaurant opened for business in 2007, they didn’t move into the iconic shopping centre until 2018.
Cracco has earned two Michelin stars thanks to its glamourous take on the heritage of Italian cuisine.
The wine cellar has more than 2,000 different labels to choose from, and over 10,000 bottles in total, predominantly of Italian and French origins. You’re in good hands with sommelier Gianluca Sanso, so don’t fret about what goes with what and when!
It’s the most simple tales that last the test of time. And the tale of Ribot is simple enough: pure meat. And guess what, it’s been making a success of it for more than 30 years.
The owners and spouses – Mauro and Colette – opened the restaurant as a tribute to horse racing. It takes its name from Ribot, one of the most famed racehorses in history. You’ll find the decor is in keeping with this family passion.
It is known for its consistency and welcoming atmosphere. Its clients include all kinds of people, from families, friends, to couples, and individuals. You never know who you’ll be sitting by.
If you don’t fancy something too meat-heavy, try the risotto or enjoy the buffet!
10) D’O: Cucina Pop
Davide Oldani founded D’O: Cucina Pop after training with some of the most distinguished chefs in the world, like Albert Roux, Pierre Hermé and Alain Ducasse.
And if you train with the best, more often than not, you become the best. Such is the case with Davide, who earned a Michelin star in 2018 for his innovation Pop cuisine.
The experts at Michelin weren’t just impressed with the food, though. His star was also credited for the decor, with its ‘designer style’, and huge windows that give diners an unrivalled piazza view. They also tipped their hat at the reasonable prices.
You’ll find this award-winning wonder a short trip outside the city centre, in the Cornaredo commune. But that hasn’t deterred anyone. The restaurant is usually booked for months in advance.
The culinary scene in Milan enriched and driven forward by its rich heritage and worldwide influences. And isn’t that how the best cuisines thrive?
A case in point, the tomato. A key component in a lot of Italian recipes. But the humble tomato didn’t reach Italy from Mexico until the 16th century. So who knows what and where this cuisine will be in another few years?
Now you’ve got an idea of where to find the best restaurants in Milan. Do you want to become even more knowledgeable about what’s going on in this city? If so you can check out our guide to the best hotels in the city while you’re here.
Featured image: Seta via Opentable