Five Noteworthy May Meals

Milan Restaurants May 2024
Pasta Cresciuta with anchovies, pastry cream, and anise-soaked raisins at Il Portico in Appiano Gentile

Where did ya go, May? I still can’t believe it’s already June. As always, the month teemed with excellent meals, so here are some restaurants in Milan, along with one near Lake Como, that I visited in May. I spent ten days in Ireland, where I also ate very well, but I thought I’d keep the list as Lombard as possible.

Il Portico

Appiano Gentile, a 20-minute drive southwest of Como, has become a pilgrimage site for Italy’s food cognoscenti eager to experience chef Paolo Lopriore’s Il Portico. The set menu changes daily, but there are a few perennials, like the uovo all’uovo cacio e pepe, a hollowed-out egg stuffed with an eggy filling that takes on the consistency of a bechamel–it was luscious, velvety, and gone in two bites! Highlights of my Sunday lunch included a pasta cresciuta pastry with anchovies, pastry cream, and anise-flavored raisins–yes, you read that right–anchovies and pastry cream. And it tasted incredible. An agone (lake shad) patty was topped with mushed avocados and sandwiched into a toasted bun slathered with sweet mustard. Most dishes are served share-style, and the conviviality ripples into the dining room–the open kitchen lies just around the corner from shelves crammed with food and drink books and topped with wine resting in an ice bin and other liquors. website

Milan Restaurants May 2024 Il Portico
Fried sandwich with agone, avocado, and sweet mustard at Il Portico

Ai Fiori Blu

The social networks were aflutter with Ai Fiori Blu content before its late April opening, so I couldn’t resist checking it out for myself–especially since it’s just ten minutes from my home (on foot). The menu straddles the old-school, with items like retro savory tartlets coated in gelatin, and new Italian with a menu that deviates from the antipasti, primi, and secondi norm. The cozy, vintage feel is thanks to how the owners salvaged everything—from the plates to the tables to the Garfield-shaped phone sprawled on the bartop–from various markets. Dinner highlights included a fettuccine with apples, leeks, and mustard; mazzancolle shrimp with peaches and dandelions that fused sweetness, bitterness, and acidity, and tender parsley-stuffed fried anchovies. For dessert, sweet focaccia with chantilly cream and tart rhubarb was delightful. website

Milan Restaurants May 2024 Ai Fiori Blu
Fettuccine with leeks, apples, and mustard at Ai Fiori Blu


It’s challenging not to order everything on the menu at this lovely Lebanese spot on the lively Via Sottocorno–a restaurant that I don’t visit as often as I like, I should add. My dinner there was rather tame–we went for hummus; the saj aàrichj bread stuffed with yogurt ricotta, onions, parsley, and peperoncino; sausage with pine nuts in a pomegranate sauce; and tawook (chicken skewers). And to drink, as much as I love Lebanese wine, I couldn’t resist a carafe of house-made orange flower lemonade–similarly to when I visited June Collective in April, I’ll never refuse fresh lemonade. Especially since we sat outside. It wasn’t super hot, but lemonade was in order since it’s not as prevalent here in Italy. website


Milan Restaurants May 2024 Meze
Meze’s saj aàrich with jyogurt ricotta, onions, parsley, and peperoncino;


I believe it’s just as blasphemous not to visit Pastamadre during fava bean season as it is to not visit during artichoke season. Chef (and Milano Files podcast guest) Francesco Costanzo always proffers an ethereal fava bean pasta preparation–last year’s was one of my faves and I’ve regularly attempted to make it home last year and when the beans came into season again this year. This year’s didn’t disappoint. The plop of chitarre was topped with a pesto of fava beans, green beans, potatoes, almonds, basil, and mint, a toothsome hodgepodge of textures and flavors–I scarpetta’d every last bite. The seasonal starters included crispy battered zucchini with grated silter, a cheese from the Lombard Alps, and trombetta zucchini wrapped in sponsale (a type of spring onion) served atop a fonduta of sorts of Catanese ricotta salata. And dessert was, of course, all about the biancomangiare, an almond pudding of sorts that tastes like pure almond and is simply dreamy. website

Restaurants in Milan May 2024 Pastamadre
Chitarre with fava bean pesto at Pastamadre

Takumi Milano

When I’m in my former neck of the Milanese woods, I always make a few obligatory stops, such as a coffee beverage at Torrefazione Hodeidah. If the timing works out, I love to pop into Takumi Milano for a solo ramen lunch. In fact, I try to time my hair appointments so I can do just that – if not there, then another nearby spot that’s no longer just a short(ish) walk away. So, one rainy Tuesday, I dropped in for a ramen lunch and got my go-to: the spicy veggie miso ramen with tofu–an appropriate antidote for the chilly rainy weather. It hit the spot, equipping me with enough fuel to carry on with my day. website


Milan Restaurants May 2024 Takumi Ramen
Takumi’s spicy veggie miso ramen
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