Restaurants in Milan: Good and Cheap

Milan is full of restaurant but finding one that meets the two basic requirements: good and cheap, is not that simple. If you walk in the city centre, holding your city guide you’re pretty hopeless and the chances of being ripped off for some basic meal you would find at your local Italian franchising restaurant are very high. After long researches, horrible experiments and precious tips by locals, we’ve shortlisted a few trusted ones:

restaurants-milan-map

Bocciofila Caccialanza

Via Padova, 91 20127 Milano, tel.02 2826059
Closed on Sundays

Bocciofila” is the name given to those local joints where old people meet for drinking wine and playing bocce, the italian version of petanque. This has came quite in fashion recently and many places have taken this name without the attitude. But not Bocciofila Caccialanza. This one hasn’t changed in 50 years, and still preserve a charme like time stopped. If you  go there in summer you would be sitting in the big gravelled yard surrounded by other cheerful guests and grumpy waiters. There’s no english menu here, which is a good sign, and actually there is no menu at all. Just ask the waiter…I don’t know if they can speak any english so get ready and write down some of my favourites: Tagliatelle al ragù di cinghiale (tagliatelle with boar meat ragu) Cotoletta alla milanese (the traditional battered veal escalope) Grigliata mista (tasty grilled meat) If you’re still hungry after all this ask for the dessert “torroncino”, which is a creamy vanilla icecream topped with caramel and nuts.

Il Doge di Amalfi

Via Sangallo, 41  20133 Milano, tel.: 02 730286 Bus 93, Tram 5
Closed on Mondays

If you’re looking for a taste of “real Italy”, according to the stereotypes, this is the place to be. A noisy, crowded pizzeria, serving the best neapolitan pizza in Milan, it’s an unforgettable experience for your tastebuds and for your ears. Try to come quite late (from 9pm onwards) to find the confusion at its peak. This is when the owner warms up and gives his best, grinning and shouting something at everyone. If you’re up for it he will immediately focus on you, give you nick names and offer a limoncello at the end. He can speak english and god knows how many other languages, and if you’re not one of the locals you will get a special treatment. And when you think it can’t get messier, with the boss shouting, the waiters running around the tables and kids screaming, there comes the two musicians, loudly playing some popular tunes. Honestly unmissable. You should book in advance, especially if you’re going in the weekend.

Da Giannino l’Abruzzese

Via Rosolino Pilo, 20  20129 Milano, tel.: 02 2940 6526 MM1 Porta Venezia, Tram 23
The real name of this restaurant is Da Giannino l’Angolo d’Abruzzo but if you’re asking for street directions you’d better call it Giannino l’Abruzzese and everyone will understand. Located on via Bixio, in one of the most elegant areas of the city, right behind Porta Venezia, you will be shocked by the change of scenario as you’ll walk in this “osteria” with a very traditional décor. We recommend the “tris di primi” a safe choice for the first course giving you three different pasta in one plate, and the regional legend arrosticini (Abruzzo is located in central Italy, in case you didn’t know), which is skinny sheep skewers served in large numbers.

Poporoya

Via Bartolomeo Eustachi, 17 , +39 02 2940 6797 MM1 Lima, Bus 60
Open 11:00 am–2:00 pm, 6:00 pm–9:30 pm. Closed Sundays
Tel.: 02 29512635 – 02 29406797 web: www.poporoyamilano.com

In the recent years a growing number of Japanese restaurants popped up in the streets of Milan, from the most sophisticated ones with minimalist lounges and soft atmosphere to those offering the very popular all-you-can-eat formula. Between these two extreme there’s a restaurant that happens to be the first ever opened in Italy and, in my opinion, the best (at least in Milan. It’s called Poporoya and it was open by Master Shiro in Rome, near Piazza del Popolo, hence the name. This happened in the 70s and I guess that was a very bold move. After few years they relocated in Milan, and never moved since. It’s very small, there’s a shop at the entrance and walking through a door between the shelves you will access the dining room: 4 small tables and a bar facing the desk where Shiro is skillfully chopping the raw fish. He’s a very nice man and he’ll be delighted to entertain you. The food, of course, is amazing. Go for the classic Sushi, or Sashimi, but don’t skip those weird Japanese specialities that you won’t normally find in the other restaurant.

Trattoria Albero Fiorito

Via Privata A. Pellizzone, 14
Closed on Satuday night and Sunday

Going to this trattoria (an italian term that stays for “traditional family-run restaurant”) feels like having the privilege of sharing a secret. Getting there can be challenging too: far from every metro station, it’s in a dead end street in a logistically absurd area where streets are laid as an asterisk. It doesn’t have a sign, except for a worn sign of a coffe brand, and it’s behind a hotel so you don’t really see it when you are at the beginning of such alley. For all this, writing about this place and divulging this little hidden treasur feels like I’m betraying this secret society. As we walk in the first question from the fiercely moustached landlord is “Are you here to eat and go or you want to spend the whole evening here?” we manage to give the correct answer. “Who sent you here?” We mumble a half munched answer and he goes “You must know the rules: you take the drinks from the bar and write down your order. Quick”. If you expect a proper restaurant don’t even bother going there. The food is simple but good, cooked at the moment, so it might take a while after your order. Prices are ridiculously cheap so they must ensure that the turnover is quick. This place checks all the boxes of a nostalgic vintage diner: checked tablecloth, fireplace, old signs, liquor bar, simple food and relaxed atmosphere. It’s so real that we never met any hipster, probably because they don’t find the comfort of a wifi connection and the word “organic” written here and there on the menu.

Warning: the mission of this blog is to suggest places where you can fearlessly go and experience the real soul of the country and the city you’re visiting. It’s the case of this restaurant to but we highly recommend to go to Albero Fiorito with someone who’s fluent in Italian.

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After being in Rome a few times without even looking at the Coliseum I realised that there's more to travel than sightseeing: meeting the local culture is what, 10 years later, determined the birth of this blog.

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