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10 traditional Italian dishes: eat like a local in Milan

10 traditional Italian dishes: eat like a local in Milan

by Yulian Rohmy

Milan is the capital of Lombardy, Northern Italy, and one of the most visited Italian locations. The first name of the city was Mediolanum which means "sanctuary" in Celtic. Mediolanum was established by Celtic tribes around 600 BC. The legends say this place was a habitat for mythological creatures known as half-woollen boars that became the emblem of Milan.

Nowadays Milan is the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome, it's a centre of art, fashion, and business. Milan is a leading alpha power city, it's a commercial heart of Italy and it's worldwide famous for its ancient history and modern museums and galleries. You should take a trip to Milan at least once in your life to walk across Piazza del Duomo, visit the gorgeous Gothic cathedral Duomo, do the shopping and enjoy delicious traditional food that is so rich in flavours and colours. Check out this guide and discover the best restaurants where you can try iconic mouthwatering Milanese dishes.   

1. Risotto alla Milanese - a sure-fire hit
Risotto alla Milanese - a sure-fire hit
Risotto

This dish comes from Northern Italian whose climate is ideal for growing rice (riso means 'rice'). The key ingredient is semi-rounded short-grain rice cooked with meat, fish or vegetable broth. Try risotto with parmesan cheese and white wine. Add saffron for flavour and yellow colour.

La Piola
#428 of 10253 pubs & bars in Milan, Italy
Viale Abruzzi, 23, Milan, Lombardy, Italy
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Rice was brought by the Moors and Saracens to Italy in the 13th century, it was cooked in boiling water until the 17th century. Since then it was slightly sauteed in butter and broth. The key feature of risotto alla milanese (risotto with parmesan and saffron) is its golden colour conferred by saffron. Go to the La Piola restaurant and taste magic Milanese risotto. It is a lovely place with an authentic Milanese accent.   

2. The best pizza in your life
The best pizza in your life
Piz
#1 of 3191 pizza restaurants in Milan, Italy
Via Torino, 34, Milan, Lombardy, Italy
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You can't imagine any Italian city without pizza, every region boasts its own secret recipes. Milan isn't an exception, here you can try the most outstanding pizza in your life. Milanese-style pizza stands above the rest thanks to its exceptional paper-thin crust and delicious fresh ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes, basil, and buffalo mozzarella. Enjoy this splendid dish at the best pizzeria in Milan called Piz.  

3. Mondeghili - extra soft and juicy meatballs
Mondeghili - extra soft and juicy meatballs
Meatballs

It's delicious and satisfying meat cutlets, where the main secret of their preparation is well-ground minced meat. The shape, size, products used and the method of heat treatment can be different. For example, they are prepared from different types of meat, all sorts of vegetables, cereals, with herbs, spices, etc. Some housewives cook them deep-fried, others fry in a pan, some stew, and some bake in the oven, on the grill or in coals.

L'Immagine
#35 of 9828 restaurants in Milan, Italy
Via Varesina, 61, Milan, Lombardy, Italy
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These tender meatballs are a common Milanese dish. Mondeghili originated during the Spanish rule and was considered to be food for poor people as it is made with the leftovers of roast veal enriched with mortadella and garlic, flattened and covered in breadcrumbs. Very simple and so juicy. The L'Immagine restaurant serves meatballs that just melt in your mouth.  

4. Ossobuco -  must-try veal shanks
Ossobuco -  must-try veal shanks
Ossobuco

This dish comes from the region of Lombardy and the word means 'bone with the hole'. Ossobuco is made from cross-cut veal shranks that are slowly braised with vegetables, broth and white wine. Braising makes this tough meat tender. It is usually served with mashed potatoes.

El Barbapedana
#292 of 9828 restaurants in Milan, Italy
Corso Cristoforo Colombo, 7, Milan, Lombardy, Italy
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This dish is a genuine Milanese speciality, the name means "a bone with a hole" in Italian. Cross-cut veal shanks are braised in a rich broth consisting of white wine, tomatoes, carrots, and onions. Ossobuco is usually served with polenta or mashed potatoes. It's a very flavourful and tender dish. You should come to the El Barbapedana restaurant and have a nice meal.

5. Panettone - traditional sweet bready cake 
Panettone - traditional sweet bready cake
Panettone

It's a traditional Italian cake-like bread. Panettone originated in Milan and is usually cooked for Christmas and New Year. It is filled with dried raisins and candied lemons and oranges. This dish is protected by law, it says panettone must be made with natural yeast. It takes three days to prepare authentic panettone.

Pasticceria Angelo Polenghi
#20 of 6425 Italian restaurants in Milan, Italy
Via Alfonso Lamarmora, 31, Milan, Lombardy, Italy
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This cake with dried raisins and candied fruits is easily recognizable for its tall domed shape. Panettone means "large cake", it's an authentic Christmas dish that originated in the Roman Empire. Originally, this leavened cake was baked with honey. It takes about three days to cook panettone - mix, leaven, bake and rest it. It's interesting that the loaf is flipped upside down after baking, it helps preserve its soft and fluffy texture. This dish is protected by law: it must be made with natural yeasts. Try this incredibly tasty pastry and other desserts at Pasticceria Angelo Polenghi.

6. Cotoletta alla Milanese - veal cutlets in crunchy breadcrumbs
Cotoletta alla Milanese - veal cutlets in crunchy breadcrumbs
Veal chops

Veal chop is an expensive cut that can be broiled, roasted, or grilled. Veal chops become tender and subtle if cooked to medium-rare, but the meat can easily become flavorless and dry when cooked for too long.

Galleria
#27 of 3191 pizza restaurants in Milan, Italy
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, 75, Milan, Lombardy, Italy
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It's another staple dish of Milan you must try during your stay in this city. This dish has been known since 1134 when it was a hearty meal for monks at Milan’s Sant Ambrogio Basilica.  Cotoletta alla Milanese is a veal rib chop or sirloin bone-in that is breaded and then fried in butter. You can eat it with butter poured over the cutlet or with a wedge of lemon. The Galleria pizzeria is definitely worth your visit, it's such a beautiful restaurant with a number of mouthwatering dishes, including veal chops.  

7. Minestrone alla milanese - your favorite vegetable soup
Minestrone alla milanese - your favorite vegetable soup
Minestrone

It's a rich Italian soup made of vegetables, meat, pasta or rice. The common ingredients are tomatoes, potatoes, beans and celery. Minestrone is a synonym for 'a mix of all things' and originated in the Roman Kindom where it was vegetarian by necessity.

DanielCanzian
#133 of 9828 restaurants in Milan, Italy
Via Castelfidardo angolo via San Marco, Milan, Lombardy, Italy
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Minestrone is translated as "big soup", it's a seasonal dish with vegetables of all types. This soup was introduced by Milanese farmers in the 1800s. You can eat hot minestrone in winter and cold soup in summer with different ingredients. This dish is traditionally cooked with pork jowls or cheeks, rice, parmesan cheese, a variety of cabbage, beets, spinach, parsley, herbs, and fennel. One of the tastiest minestrone is served at the DanielCanzian restaurant.

8. Panzerotti - fluffy pastry with mozzarella and tomatoes
Panzerotti - fluffy pastry with mozzarella and tomatoes
Panzerotti

Panzerotti is also known as fried calzone, it is crispy golden pillows filled with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. This pastry can be stuffed with sweet ingredients as well. The dish originated in Central and Southern Italy.

Panzarotti
#1 of 2835 fast food in Milan, Italy
Viale Bligny, 1/A, Milan, Lombardy, Italy
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This name is derived from the Italian word pancia that means "a belly, tummy". Panzerotti is deep-fried small versions of calzoni, a vital part of the Apulian cuisine. These pockets of dough are traditionally stuffed with mozzarella and tomato sauce. Panzerotti can also be filled with onions sauteed in olive oil, cheese, and capers. Visit the Panzarotti restaurant and enjoy this gorgeous pastry. 

9.  Barbajada - hot Milanese drink

It's a classic sweet frothy drink that is called after its inventor Neapolitan Domenico Barbaja. He was a waiter at the cafe next to La Scala Theatre, a meeting place for musicians. It was a very cold winter in the 1800s when Domenico brought a nice hot drink cooked from cream, coffee, and chocolate and every visitor got warm and had a wonderful evening. Enjoy this beverage while eating panettone or any other Milanese dessert. 

10. Prosciutto - exceptional dry-cured ham  
Prosciutto - exceptional dry-cured ham 
Prosciutto

Try this sweet delicate ham that is made of dry-cured hind legs of pigs. Eat prosciutto raw or add it to pasta or risotto. The recipes of Italian prosciuttos differ in various regions. The most famous is Parma ham, or Prosciutto di Parma, that is salted and air-dried for 8-24 months.

Salsamenteria di Parma
#52 of 10253 pubs & bars in Milan, Italy
Via S. Pietro All'Orto, 9, Milan, Lombardy, Italy
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This Italian dry-cured ham is very popular among Milanese. The word means "to dry thoroughly" in Latin. Prosciutto is made from pork legs, thinly sliced, covered in salt and left to rest for a couple of weeks. This meat is a good source of protein and it is high in fat. It takes from 9 months to two years to prepare prosciutto of high quality. Salt, air, and time make this dish so exceptional. Try magnificent prosciutto at the Salsamenteria di Parma restaurant.

Enjoy Milan and have a nice meal!

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10 traditional Italian dishes: eat like a local in Milan