Top Milan restaurants and wine bars

Italy's fashion capital and arguably its most dynamic city, Milan has plenty of appeal for food and wine lovers, thanks to its wealth of tasty local dishes and a burgeoning wine scene, says Sarah Lane...

Cantina Urbana

Visit Italy’s first city winery to try its newly released 2018 Naviglio Rosso (Barbera and Croatina) or Bianco (100% Riesling). Other wines include the intense and characterful Tranatt Rosso (Syrah-Barbera-Teroldego) and the spicy, lesser-known native from Molise, Tintilia. You can fill, cork and label your own bottle from the current wines on tap, book a blending experience or just relax at the wine bar.

Trattoria Madonnina

Reassuring home cooking aromas and a cheerful atmosphere at this historic trattoria dating from 1721. Take a seat at one of the check-clothed tables among historic photos and prints or under the leafy courtyard canopy, then choose from dishes such as cotoletta alla Milanese (breaded bone-in veal cutlet), pairing it perhaps with the week’s showcased wine. +39 02 8940 9089

Ratanà

An excellent contemporary eatery set in an art deco villa, with patio tables and a backdrop of the futuristic Porta Nuova district across the park. Responsibly sourced ingredients are transformed into dishes such as trout with barley, fennel and lemon, or traditional favourites including ossobuco with saffron-flavoured risotto alla Milanese. Don’t miss the creamy mascarpone, orange and beetroot dessert. The mostly Italian wine list includes about 600 bins.

Cantine Isola

There’s a timeless and welcoming feel to this small wine bar, which stands at the heart of Milan’s pedestrianised Chinatown and has been selling wine since 1896. Proprietor Luca Sarais will open anything for just a glass, even a top St-Emilion or Amarone, and encourages his vast and varied clientele to try different and lesser-known wines from the hundreds of mainly Italian and European bottles available.

Leonardo’s Vineyard

A visit to the vineyard once owned by Leonardo da Vinci (opposite the Santa Maria delle Grazie church which hosts his celebrated mural, The Last Supper) is an evocative experience. And while the vines, replanted in 2015, cover a substantially smaller area than they did back in da Vinci’s time, and the wines are made by Oltrepò winery Castello di Luzzano, they are the same variety that the Renaissance genius grew, Malvasia di Candia Aromatica.

N’Ombra de Vin

This atmospheric basement wine bar, set in the 16th-century Augustine refectory of the San Marco church, has original flooring and ceiling vaults as well as an ancient sarcophagus incorporated into the bar. There’s a vast collection of wines (more than 3,000), plus a small and varied menu with such dishes as smoked tuna tartare with avocado and delicious Italian and French cheeses.

La Vecchia Latteria

Hearty dishes such as macaroni with radicchio and gorgonzola, cauliflower fritters and aubergine parmigiana are on the menu at this long-standing vegetarian trattoria. Order a mixed special for a generous taste of everything. Open lunchtimes only, it’s highly popular and the tiny white-tiled interior, a reminder of the site’s former role as a dairy, has an informal and homely air.

La Porta del Vino

The one-stop-shop for getting to know the Lombardy wine scene is run by the regional branch of Italy’s wine tourism movement (MTV) and occupies a former customs house. Book for a tasting, come along to one of the regular themed events or producer presentations or simply pop in (3pm-6pm) for advice on winery visits. Book online to join a Saturday tour of Oltrepò, Valcalepio or Franciacorta wineries.

El Brellin

Housed in an 18th-century building with a warm yellow colour scheme and beamed ceilings, on the picturesque Vicolo dei Lavandai (‘washerwoman’s corner’), this is one of the Navigli district’s more refined dining options. The restaurant menu focuses on Milanese specialities including cassoeula (pork and cabbage stew) with polenta, rustin negàa (veal with bacon) or crispy fried risotto al salto. The ground floor, canal-side café hosts live music on Wednesday evenings.

Signorvino

Spanning three floors and overlooking the decorative rear of the cathedral, the central Milan branch of this group of contemporary wine-bar eateries is a good option for a break from sightseeing or shopping. There’s a fresh, upbeat look to the place and an impressive range of wines from across Italy to buy or enjoy here. The all-day menu of platters, salads and hot dishes includes pairing tips.


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