The traditional cuisine of Milan is rich in ingredients and flavors, featuring specialties such as risotto alla Milanese, cotoletta, ossobuco, and much more.
If you’re looking for the best Milanese restaurants in Milan, there are plenty of traditional restaurants in the city to choose from, ranging from upscale establishments with long waiting lists to inexpensive and down-to-earth taverns where local workers spend their daily lunch breaks.
But first, let’s take a look at the stars of the menu.
Or click here if you want to jump to the list of Milanese restaurants, for every budget.
Traditional Milanese food
Cotoletta alla milanese
Cotoletta alla Milanese is a classic dish that originated in Milan but, because of its popularity (who doesn’t like fried food?!), it is now served in many locations throughout Italy.
The original cotoletta consists of veal loin with its bone, breaded and then fried in clarified butter. The result is crispy and golden on the surface, yet tender and flavorful on the inside — a delicious combination. Also, the smell of butter is heavenly.
There are several variations of cotoletta, for example a very large one version with no bone (called “orecchia di elefante”, italian for elephant ear).
Cotoletta can also be made with other types of meat (pork or chicken).
Some restaurants add special ingredients to the breading which add more crunchiness or flavor to it, for example nuts (almonds or pistachios) or shavings of citrus peel – naming it “cotoletta sbagliata” (wrong cotoletta). Despite not being true to the original recipe, they’re all still absolutely delicious!
Risotto alla Milanese
Risotto alla milanese needs little introduction.
It’s not just Italians who have fallen in love with this timeless dish; its uncomplicated elegance has won over fans all over the globe.
This dish is a staple of Milanese cuisine, and for good reason: the subtle saffron gives it a beautiful golden color, while the butter and parmigiano cheese give it a tantalizingly creamy flavor.
This dish is almost always served as a main course, but sometimes also as an accompaniment to ossobuco.
Another popular dish of Lombard cooking is ossobuco alla milanese.
This dish consists of veal shank, made tender and succulent because of the presence of marrow and the long cooking over a very gentle heat.
During the low and slow cooking, the marrow melts, adding an extra layer of flavor to the meat.
Ossobuco is then often topped with gremolada, a mixture of finely chopped garlic, parsley, and lemon zest, that elevates its already rich flavor.
It is traditionally served as a rich main dish alongside saffron risotto, but it can also be enjoyed with a side of polenta or as a main course over a side of vegetables.
The Lombard cassoeula is a delicious wintertime staple, consisting of meat and vegetables cooked together to create a rich and flavorful stew.
Cassoeûla is a rich dish with humble origins in poor peasant cuisine. Its preparation varies slightly from area to area, but it consistently makes use of cabbage and lesser cuts of pork.
Traditional ingredients for this hearty one-pot dinner include “verzini” sausages (or luganega, a sausage typical of Lombardy), pork ribs, rinds, foot, ears, or tail.
Riso al salto
Riso al salto is a delicious dish that got its start as a method to use up leftover rice from the day before, often the traditional saffron or Milanese risotto.
It’s pan-sautéed with oil and butter until a crispy, flavorful crust forms. Irresistible.
Traditional dish from the Lombard region, with extremely humble origins.
Boiled in water flavored with carrot, celery, and salt, nervetti were a way to use the less-valued portion of the veal, the so-called piedini (feet), which would otherwise be discarded.
Most often, they are served as a starter in salads with other ingredients including spring onions, beans, salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar.
Mondeghili are a type of meatball typical of the milanese cuisine.
They were originally made from ingredients that would otherwise go to waste, making it a staple dish in the “poor” culinary culture.
Boiled meat, mortadella, veggies, and bread are mixed and seasoned with lemon zest and nutmeg, and then fried in butter, which brings out all of the dish’s delicious flavors.
Mondeghili are served as a main dish or an appetizer in the traditional Milanese happy hour.
Traditional Milanese restaurants, for every budget
Via Selvanesco, 36 (Milan south)
In the southern suburbs of Milan, this restaurant has taken over the former premises of an osteria serving balera.
The menus, handwritten on checkered notebooks, the deep red tablecloths and accents, the fireplace, and the lampshades all work together to create an intimate and refined ambiance.
It serves all the standard fare of Milanese food, but its mainstay is cotoletta alla milanese.
Eat outdoors in the beautiful garden if the weather is nice.
Premiata Trattoria Arlati dal 1936
Via Alberto Nota, 47 (Niguarda)
Arts and music are celebrated at Trattoria Arlati. Dine on delicious local specialties while listening to live music and mingling with Milan’s socialites in its art-adorned dining rooms.
Antica Trattoria della Pesa
Viale Pasubio, 10 (Brera / Porta Garibaldi)
This restaurant has stood the test of time and has maintained its original furnishings and decor since its opening, giving it an authentic and nostalgic ambiance that takes you back in time.
You’ll feel like you’re dining in a 19th-century Milanese trattoria, complete with subtle lighting and classic music playing in the background.
But the real star of the show here is the food. Osteria della Pesa offers exceptional Lombard cuisine, with dishes that are deeply rooted in the local culinary tradition.
The menu is not extensive, but what they lack in quantity, they make up for in quality. Their ossobuco and risotto are some of the best in Milan.
Reservations are highly recommended.
Via Fiori Chiari, 10 (Brera)
Located on the most picturesque street in Brera, Nabucco is an authentic Milanese restaurant with a cozy atmosphere that lets you soak up the city’s rich cultural heritage.
The ambiance is that of a classy restaurant with dim lighting and classical music playing softly in the background, making it the perfect place to enjoy typical Milanese cuisine as well as other delicious dishes.
The risotto is a must-try, with the delightful and innovative addition of almonds and orange zest.
The service is impeccable, with the staff being prompt and attentive in explaining each dish.
La Bettola di Piero
Via Orti, 17 (Porta Romana)
Cozy restaurant in the lovely ViaOrti in the Porta Romana neighborhood.
Dark wood furniture, flowers, vintage decor, and checkered tablecloths make up the classic aesthetic of the spaces.
The menu rotates often, but you can always count on finding the milanese classic staples.
Via Elia Lombardini, 1 (Navigli)
Damm-atrà is a typical trattoria located in the picturesque Navigli area of Milan, but a bit removed from the tourist bustle.
The restaurant is decorated in warm, inviting tones of dark wood and green walls, fairy lights and books, creating a cozy atmosphere. Its rustic menu features all the classic dishes from the region, including severals variations of risotto and of course the famous cotoletta alla milanese.
Corso Garibaldi, 117 (Porta Garibaldi / Brera)
Osteria Brunello is a restaurant located in the Brera district of Milan that offers the best of Milanese cuisine with a wide array of high quality wines.
The dishes are presented with an eye for sophistication, and the setting is informal yet attractive. From the classic dishes of Milanese cuisine like cotoletta alla milanese and ossobuco, to the less typical but ever so tasty options, Osteria Brunello is sure to satisfy your taste buds.
Via Conchetta, 8 (Navigli)
Osteria Conchetta is a restaurant located in the fashionable Navigli area of Milan. It is a simple yet refined eatery, serving the authentic and delicious dishes of Milanese cuisine.
The menu changes with the seasons and features local specialties, such as cotoletta and risotto alla milanese. Every dish is prepared with fresh, local ingredients and cooked to perfection. Their attentive staff is always ready to make guests feel at home.
Antica Trattoria Salutati
Via Coluccio Salutati, 15 (Sant’Ambrogio / Last Supper)
The Antica Trattoria Salutati evokes the homey atmosphere of traditional trattorias, but with the contemporary flair and refined palate for which the Milanese are now renowned.
Dishes like cassoela, and risotto with ossobuco are staples of the local Lombardo-Milanese cuisine, as are cotolette.
Trattoria Burla Giò
Via S. Giovanni sul Muro, 16 (Sforzesco Castle)
Already mentioned in the list of places to eat for cheap in Milan, Trattoria Burla Giò is a staple.
Burla Giò’s central location is a huge plus, as it puts you within easy walking distance of the Duomo and other city landmarks.
This restaurant’s dedication to traditional Milanese cuisine means you can expect nothing less than the finest cotoletta, ossobuco, and risotto.
There is no doubt that this trattoria’s authenticity can be proven by the fact that, despite its convenient central position, the vast majority of its customers are locals.
Trattoria Sabbioneda Da Romolo
Via Alessandro Tadino, 32 (Porta Venezia)
It’s easy to relax and feel at ease in this trattoria’s homey, rustic setting. It’s located in the heart of the Porta Venezia district, only steps from from the bustling shops on Corso Buenos Aires, and it serves authentic Milanese and Lombard cuisine at incredibly reasonable prices.
Il Brutto Anatroccolo
Via Evangelista Torricelli, 3 (Navigli)
This restaurant is a throwback to Old Milan in the heart of Italy’s most modern metropolis; you can expect a vibrant crowd and a buzzing atmosphere, with a rowdiness that’s all part of the experience.
Above all else, this place has become a a gathering spot for the locals living and working in this area; a timeless, carefree setting with an unassuming and genuine atmosphere.
Via Brembo, 11 (Fondazione Prada)
Enjoy traditional Milanese food at affordable prices in a long-standing osteria that has been given a youthful jolt by the new ownership.
This charactieristic place preserves the cherished traditional local cuisine, including such staples as roast beef, meatballs in tomato sauce, potatoes, and lots and lots of wine.