Milan eats: From Polenta, through Panzerotti, to Panettone

EuropeFood and DrinkMilan

Milan is a gastronomic paradise where it is possible to sample most of Italy’s regional specialities. However, it’s worth seeking out what is typically milanese.

A heart-warming winter treat

Usually made with cornmeal, which is cooked in water and stirred constantly, polenta used to be a traditional peasant dish throughout much of northern Italy. It has now become a fashionable addition to many a restaurant’s winter menu.

Typical accompaniments include mushrooms, gorgonzola cheese, braised beef and other meats. While cornmeal polenta is yellow, polenta saracena, made with buckwheat flour, has a darker hue.

Italian fast food

Don’t want to interrupt your sightseeing with a lengthy meal? You can grab lunch on the go at Luini, just a couple of minutes from the Duomo. You’ll recognise this takeaway place from the queue that forms outside.

By joining it, you will get to sample a great Milan standby: the panzerotto, a hot pocket of pizza dough full of tomato and mozzarella cheese. If you wish to avoid the queues, arrive at noon, before the crowds.

Christmas cake all year round

Internationally renowned, panettone is Milan’s traditional Christmas cake. Containing nuts, raisins and candied fruit, panettone, with its distinctive cylindrical shape, starts making an appearance in shops around November.

However, at Marchesi, an elegant pastry shop and bar that was recently taken over by Prada, panettone is a year-round treat. Head there to eat it by the slice, or to buy a whole one to take home.

Saffron magic

Italy is Europe’s leading rice-producing country, and the majority of those rice fields are just to the west of Milan.

It is not surprising, then, that one of the city’s signature dishes should be risotto alla milanese, also known locally as risòtt giald (yellow risotto), its colour conferred by the addition of saffron.

At restaurant Da Abele, they serve up three different risottos every evening (a meat-based, a fish-based and a vegetable-based), except Mondays, which is their rest day.

Local wine

And to drink? The only wine made in the Milan province is San Colombano DOC. Seek it out on restaurant wine lists or at Peck, the delectable deli where all of Milan’s foodie specialities can be found.

For more information on things to do, as well as places to stay in Milan, visit our destination guide.

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