When it comes to restaurants in Milan, Porta Romana holds a special place in my heart. When it comes to good eats, the neighborhood has been the most consistent for as long as I can remember, so anyone visiting the city would be remiss to not have at least one meal there. Plus, it’s effortlessly easy to reach: take the yellow line (M3) toward San Donato to Porta Romana–it’s just three stops south of the Duomo.
Regarding Porta Romana restaurants, I had been going to Un Posto a Milano before I officially lived here, and Pasta Madre and Dongio have always been going strong. I had only been living in the city for a little over a year when the inimitable Trippa opened, a game-changer that completely shifted the city’s restaurant culture. Seven years later, a table at Trippa remains the most coveted in town, with their reservations filling up for the next week as soon as they’re released online at noon.
Also, in the quarter, Giulio Pane e Ojo has always been famous for Roman food, so I’m giving it a shout-out here in the intro. But if you’re visiting Milan, you’re probably going to Rome, too, so save the Roman food for Rome. Like my post about restaurants in Milan near the Duomo, I’m only including restaurants proper in Porta Romana. So, I’m taking this opportunity to shout out fantastic wine bars like La Cieca and Il Cavallante; lively cocktail bars like The Spirit and Bella Milano; exceptional spots for baked goods like Marlà Pasticceria and Davide Longoni; and Soli e Bisioli gelateria. The latter offers stellar almond granita during the summer, and if you’re visiting during the off-season, go for the almond gelato. n
Here, in no particular order, are 11 great restaurants in Milan’s Porta Romana quarter.
Trippa opened in 2015, so as I moved to Milan in 2014, it feels like it’s always been here. Diego Rossi and Pietro Cairoli made a bold move when they opened Trippa, and this restaurant continues to impact the city’s restaurant scene. The name means “tripe,” so you can expect some meat. But the word also has a double meaning in Italian–it also describes something with substance, and you’ll find plenty of that here. The vitello tonnato is the best in town, and the fried tripe is in a league of its own. As for the marrow, you scoop it directly out of the bone with a spoon. Pescatarians and vegetarians: fret not. The owners took the restaurant in a new direction last year, shifting meat into more of a supporting role on the menu. Carnivores: fret not. The said classics trifecta isn’t going anywhere. Note: A table at Trippa remains the most coveted and most difficult to obtain in town. Reservations are available online only and open at noon CET two weeks before a particular date – in bocca al lupo! Via Giorgio Vasari, 1; +39 327 668 7908; Monday – Saturday, dinner only, two turns: 7.15pm or 9.30pm, website
Mamma mia che buono!.At Pastamadre, Sicily native Francesco Costanzo draws inspiration from his heritage. When in Milan, don’t skip the Sicilian cuisine here to save it for Sicily because you won’t find Pastamadre there. The housemade pasta dishes are INSANE–the spaghetti with yellow tomatoes, stracciatella, and red shrimp crudo is out of this world. And if you’re there when caponata is in season, order it. Also, fun fact: Francesco is one of the first chefs to offer an all-natural wine list, having done so since the restaurant’s 2011 opening. He was also a guest on my podcast, The Milanophiles…download the episode here. Via Bernardino Corio, 8; +39 02 5519 0020; Tuesday – Saturday 12pm-2.30pm and 7pm-11pm; closed Sunday and Monday; website
This Calabrian restaurant in Porta Romana is epic. I know what you’re thinking: I’m a hypocrite because I wrote before to save the Roman food for Rome and, in my Duomo guide, to save Sorbillo for Naples. But let’s be honest, are you going to Calabria? Probably not (unfortunately). But honestly, at Dongiò, which turned 35 last year, the regional Calabrian cuisine is so glorious that it would be unfortunate to miss. Expect lots of ‘nduja and caciocavallo. The Housemade pasta dishes are hearty and satisfying– I love the maccheroni pane amore (love bread pasta) with roasted cherry tomatoes, ‘nduja bread crumbs, basil, and burrata. Secondi dishes include meatballs in tomato sauce, parmigiana, and grilled caciocavallo cheese – one version of the latter stuffed with ‘nduja— yes, it tastes just as crave-worthy as it sounds. Don’t miss Dongiò’s warm and friendly staff, crowd-pleasing eats, and cozy and inviting vibes. Via Bernardino Corio, 3; Monday – Friday: Lunch and dinner, 12pm–2.30pm and 7pm-11pm; Saturday, 7pm-11pm; closed Sunday; website
4. Un Posto a Milano
I’ve been dining at Un Posto a Milano before I officially lived in Milan and a recent visit has confirmed that Nicola Cavallaro’s farm-to-table fare remains spot on. The menu suits the ambiance: the dishes are rooted in Italian tradition but undercut with a refined farm-to-table flare, incorporating ingredients grown on-site and from local farms. Un Posto a Milano sits on the ground floor of Cascina Cuccagna, a restored 17th-century farmhouse in Porta Romana that once sat on the outskirts of Milan. But as Milan expanded over the centuries, the cascina integrated into the city proper–the flora with the vast outdoor courtyard is an urban oasis, and it’s one of the best spots in town for outdoor dining. Via Privata Cuccagna, 2/4; +39 02 545 7785; open seven days for lunch and dinner, but the bar is open all day serving pizza, focaccia, sandwiches, and small dishes; website
This whimsical fermentation-focused spot opened this past July, care of Mariasole Cuomo and Giacomo Venturoli, a couple who met in Copenhagen and returned to Italy together. Cuomo oversees the kitchen, and Venturoli oversees the dining room, including the thoughtful selection of natural wines. The six-course set family-style menu costs 45 euros per person, but patrons receive an additional list of à la carte dishes (also served family-style) they can tack on to the meal. The menu, flecked with an array of Asian influences, may include marinated egg, bread miso, artichoke, bottarga, rosemary and grilled ravioli, pea shoyu, kimchi, fermented apples, and onions. Via Passo Buole, 4; Tuesday – Saturday 7pm-11pm; closed Sunday and Monday; website
6. Trattoria del Pescatore
This Porta Romana mainstay opened in 1976 when Sardinia natives Giuliano Ardu and Agnese Atzeni took over an existing trattoria and created one of the first local destinations for quality seafood – a historic feat in the sense that this was the restaurant offering just fish. The dish that put Trattoria del Pescatore on the map is l’astice alla catalana (Catalan lobster)–Ardu decided to get creative and adapt the recipe typical of his home town Alghero, which has a large Catalan population. Instead of flavoring the lobster with oil and lemon, he added red onion and tomatoes, and the dish remains a Milanese staple today. In 2018, they opened Pescatore Lobster Bar next door. Of course, the signature lobster dish can be found there along with raw preparations. Via Atto Vannucci, 5; +39 02 02 5832 0452; Tuesday – Saturday: 12:30-2:30 and 8pm-11pm; closed Sunday and Monday; website
Pizzaiolo Paolo Di Simone made a name for himself at Da Zero serving delicate flavorful Cilento-style pizza. He branched out on his own to open Modus in May 2022 where he keeps true to his Campania roots using flour from the Naples-based Mulino Caputo to make pizzas that include. Go on an empty stomach because the menu is irresistible. Appetizers include mini fried pizza topped with ossobuco alla milanese and fried pasta croquettes and pizza spans over two dozen enticing options, including a few selections using older grains. I had the Contadina, which falls under the latter and features spicy sausage, tomatoes, eggplant, mozzarella, and extra-virgin olive oil. I was also delighted to see the margherotta – a margherita with ‘nduja, which happened to be my Da Zero go-to. But Modus is more than a pizzeria. Chef Gerardo Scarpitta and Antonio–both Campania natives–oversee the kitchen and cocktails, respectively. Via Andrea Maffei, 12; +39 02 8286 0006; open seven days 12.30pm – 2,30pm and 7.30pm-11.30pm. Website
8. Hic Enoteche Cucina
The latest spot from the Hic Enoteche group, opened in early 2021 and features a vast selection of wines by the glass. In comparison to its sibling establishments (a boutique, lab, and bistro), Hic Enoteche Cucina has a stronger emphasis on food than its sibling spots. On the food front, expect dishes like spaghetti alla chitarra with broccoli rabe cream, mussels, and bottarga; beef tartare with salt, pepper, figs, and raspadura di Lodigiani cheese; spaghettoni di Gragnano in Adriatic pink shrimp bisque; and arctic char crusted with yellow zucchini, melissa, and green zucchini cream. Viale Sabotino 38; + 39 02 83429046; Tuesday-Saturday: 6pm to 12am, Sunday: 12pm – 3pm, closed Monday; website
9. Cantina Urbana
Entrepreneur and wine professional Michele Rimpici opened Italy’s first urban winery along the Naviglio Pavese in May 2018 and two years later, he followed it up with two additional outposts, one of which you’ll find in Porta Romana (just beside Sioli e Bissoli gelateria). Wine production remains at the HQ, but this spot isn’t just for purchasing the wine–patrons can hang out to sip wine by the glass, enjoy pairings, and partake in some experiences, like tastings and sampling wine straight from a barrique. Guests can make a meal out of the array of seasonal cicchetti and taglieri, or simply it up before dinner nearby. Via Lazzaro Papi, 22; +39 02 5280 7747; Tuesday-Sunday: 5pm -12am; website
I remember when Rome-based pizzaiolo Stefano Cagliari was selling his trapizzini (a portmanteau of tramezzino and pizza) at the dearly departed 00100 in Rome’s Testaccio neighborhood–the days before he turned it into a spot dedicated to his epic new street food: pizza stuffed with classic Italian preparations. Fillings include chicken cacciatore, parmigiana, meatballs in sauce, tongue in salsa verde, chicken with peppers, and more. For better or for worse, Trapizzino is conveniently located beside the Porta Romana metro strop. Corso Lodi, 1; +30 02 4971 6304; open seven days, 10am-12am; website
Located south of the Porta Romana gate and close to the Lodi metro stop Dabass, whose name means “down below” in Milanese dialect, is a retro-style bistro and cocktail bar. The owners—Maddalena Monti mixologist Robi Tardelli, and chef Andrea Marroni—were the team behind the dearly departed MAM. At Dabass, they put forth fine-tuned seasonal casalinga-style fare in a relaxed setting that feels like home but with a touch of extra vintage oomph. Via Piacenza, 13; +39 349 356 5436; Tuesday-Sunday: 6pm late-night; closed Monday; website