You’ve probably heard about the street food scenes in Rome and Venice, but let me tell you, the northern Italian city of Milan has the power to rival both of them.
Some of my favorite bites hail from the cosmopolitan metropolis, like panettone, a sweet fruitcake bread, and fresh seafood sandwiches that could turn anyone into a pescatarian.
After over a dozen trips to this fantastic culinary destination, I’ve tried the finest plates from the curbside cuisine there, from michetta to panino with cotoletta alla milanese. Read through this post and find out about my picks for the best street food in Milan.
The perfect savory street eat in my eyes is mondeghili. These little meatballs are so basic; all they’re made with is leftover ground beef, eggs, and bread, but wow, they’re phenomenal.
While I’ve seen mondeghili made with various meat such as veal and pork, beef is huge amongst the Milanese, so they’d see it as an insult to cook them with anything else.
Mondeghili has a strong umami taste because of the beef, but I prefer it when the chef adds some garlic into the mix; it gives the meat a pungent kick. I’ve also tried versions with cheese added to them, and they were delicious; it gives it a creamy element and makes the beef extra soft.
Where To Eat It?
If there’s one place you try mondeghili, make sure it’s Trattoria La Pesa dal 1902! Between the homey atmosphere and the friendly staff, it’s such a nice spot to get some antipasti if you’re in a rush.
The mondeghili I ordered here tasted delightful, from the spicy, peppery seasoning to the slight eggy notes from the batter.
Trattoria La Pesa dal 1902 (€€) – Via Giovanni Fantoni, 26, 20148 Milano MI, Italy – Monday to Wednesday, 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm to 12:00 am, closed Thursday to Sunday
Celebrated as Milan’s famous bread, I could never say no to a piece of Michetta. Shaped like a rose puff roll, you’ll see michetta sold at stalls and bakeries all over the city. The inside of the bread is often left empty; I always use this bit to wedge in my favorite fillings for some added flavor.
Michetta doesn’t have an overly strong flavor of anything. It had a light, yeasty taste with a tinge of sweetness and saltiness but nothing too overwhelming.
I think the fillings you choose to have on the inside are what really make up the flavor profile; it’s similar to a standard sandwich. The texture is quite chewy but soft at the same time; it’s almost fluffy like cotton candy.
Where To Eat It?
It’s not hard to find good michetta in Milan, but La Michetta di Diego’S Panificio tops anywhere else. I couldn’t get enough of this quintessential Milanese bakery; they have a lovely outdoor seating area to relax in after you grab your snacks.
I initially ordered one of their mini pizza-filled michettas and ended up having two more; they were that good. The way the cheese dripped into the tomato sauce and accompanied the hearty outer layer of the crust was so yummy. Even writing about it now makes me want more!
La Michetta di Diego’S Panificio (€) – Via Lomellina, 25, 20134 Milano MI, Italy – Monday to Friday, 7:00 am to 7:30 pm, Saturday, 7:00 am to 7:00 pm and Sunday, 8:00 am to 1:00 pm
Panino With Cotoletta Alla Milanese
Another sandwich-style snack that deserves a mention on my Milan street foods list is panino with cotoletta alla milanese.
If you’ve traveled anywhere in Italy, you’ll know paninis are a big thing, but one version that’s specific to Milan is the panino with cotoletta alla milanese. It’s a panino with a tender veal cutlet covered delicately with fresh breadcrumbs and stuffed with wild garden veggies.
I’m a big fan of how tender the veal is served; it’s usually pressed down before it’s cooked, making it extra juicy when it’s ready. It often has a buttery flavor with a crisp taste and a zesty flare because of the lemon that the chef drizzles on the top.
Where To Eat It?
Pizzeria Grazie Italia close to the Piazzale Vincenzo Cuoco is a brilliant place to get your hands on a panino with cotoletta alla Milanese. It’s an old-school, hole-in-the-wall pizza joint, but they do sell the traditional delicacy.
I noticed they sold it as I walked past last year on my vacation, so I ordered some. It came with a green salad, some fries, and mayonnaise. The sauce gave the nuttiness of the batter a mild tanginess, and the salad added an extra layer of crunch, which I enjoyed.
Pizzeria Grazie Italia (€) – Via Emilio Faà di Bruno, 14, 20137 Milano MI, Italy – Monday, 11:00 am to 12:00 am, Tuesday to Sunday, 11:00 am to 12:30 am
Risotto Alla Milanese
There’s no way you can come to Milan without trying risotto alla milanese, a creamy saffron-tasting risotto brought to the city by a Belgian glassmaker in 1574.
He was passionate about adding saffron to his dishes, so he tried it out with the already-existing classic butter risotto. Everyone loved it as they admired the incredible flavors, and it has since become the city’s staple dish.
The saffron is the part of this dish I adore the most; it gives the dish a floral spice with an oniony side. The cheese enriches the rice with a velvety smoothness and creates a broth-like mix.
Where To Eat It?
I had heard about Trattoria La Vecchia Guardia on the outskirts of Milan’s city center for a long time from various people I knew. I eventually bit the bullet the last time I visited when I had planned to meet one of my long-time friends who was a big fan of it.
I ordered risotto alla milanese as a side street takeaway. Its flavor profile was lightly buttered with a garlic siden, and its consistency was quite thick. There was an aftertaste of white wine, which is often added to give the rice some extra aroma.
Trattoria La Vecchia Guardia (€€) – Via della Commenda, 20122 Milano MI, Italy – Close Monday, Tuesday to Sunday, 12:00 am to 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm
When I see a serving of panettone being put on the table, I know there’s a celebration about to happen. This breaded fruitcake gets its name from the Italian word “panetto,” which translates to “loaf” in English. It’s traditionally served around Christmas and New Year’s Eve to mark the big occasion.
I find panettone is very rich; it’s usually made with a lot of butter to make its texture soft. The sugar and the raisins used in the mix give it a strong, sweet taste. Some people like to make it with orange and lemon drops, which gives the flavor profile a citrussy edge.
Where To Eat It?
When I’m in Milan and craving some panettone on the go, I always go to Cova. Yes, it’s pretty expensive there, but it’s so worth it. The aromas from the vanilla are divine, and the chewiness from the raisins complements the softness of the dough.
I loved how they gave you the takeaway orders in wrapping paper and a bow; it felt and tasted like a gift!
Cova (€€€) – Via Monte Napoleone, 8, 20121 Milano MI, Italy – Monday to Saturday, 8:30 am to 8:00 pm, Sunday, 9:00 am to 8:00 pm
A must-try if you want to satisfy your sweet tooth is Barbajada, a hot beverage mixed with coffee, whipped chocolate, and fresh milk. The bit I love the most is the sugar and dollop of cream put on top as if the chocolate wasn’t enough sugar for me.
Now, I only order these after a light meal because they really are filling. Besides being very sweet, they’re pretty milky, which makes them quite heavy. I think the arabica-tasting undertones give it a unique balance, and if you add vanilla, it gives it floral notes.
Where To Drink It?
Make it your mission to try your first Barbajada at Torrefazione Moka Hodeidah. This local cafe is amazing; they serve so many delicious sweet snacks and even let you sample drinks before you buy them.
Their barbajada is exceptional; it’s heavy on chocolate, but you get a solid espresso mixed in, which complements the sweetness quite well. It’s served warm, but I asked them to make mine extra hot so the chocolate would melt fully with the cream. Be sure to do the same.
Torrefazione Moka Hodeidah (€€) – Via Piero della Francesca, 8, 20154 Milano MI, Italy – Monday to Friday, 7:00 am to 7:30 pm, Saturday, 8:00 am to 7:30 pm, and closed on Sunday
You know all the best Milan street food now to add to your foodie wish list.
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