For many of us Milan is primarily the world-famous fashion capital, which attracts thousands of shoppers all year round. It’s not a secret that those tourists, who go to Milan exclusively for shopping, are usually limited in time to buy what they need. And in this case the question is how to have a nice meal without detracting from shopping.
Certainly, there are lots of restaurants and cafes in Milan, but we should consider the ones that are located near Piazza del Duomo, since most travelers usually shop there. Unfortunately, the shoppers who are unaware of the local eateries usually go to the first cafe they see to have a snack quickly and continue their shopping. But normally the quality of food offered in most of these cafes has nothing to do with Italian cuisine and leaves much to be desired.
Still, there are some places near Piazza del Duomo, where you can have a break while shopping and enjoy a delicious meal for reasonable price!
#1: Panzerotti Luini
This is a kind of Italian snack-bar serving patties made by unique recipe. One patty costs €2.30, depending on the stuffing. You are recommended to try a patty stuffed with mozzarella and tomatoes. There are no seats and tables in this café and it’s rather suitable for a quick snack as you walk. But definitely it’s a much better alternative to any pizzeria at Duomo square.
Keep in mind that in many guidebooks this café is marked as one of Milan’s sights, so don’t get confused when you see a long queue there. But don’t worry, the queue moves very quickly! You’ll find Panzerotti Luini right behind Rinascente department store.
#2: Obica bar
It is an Italian fast-food restaurant chain, where the main specialty is mozzarella cheese. One of these restaurants is situated on the top floor of Rinascente Store. Unfortunately, it doesn’t serve pizza, but there is a very good choice of appetizers and delicious mozzarella cheese.
A bill for two persons will be around €20-25. Here’s another secret: Rinascente store is open until 10 pm, but the restaurants on the top floor are open until midnight. So, after 10 pm you can get to the restaurant using the elevator, which you will find in a side street, located from the left side of the main entrance to Rinascente. By the way, if you don’t have time to buy a souvenir from Italy there’s a great choice of Italian wines, cheeses and spices on the same floor with the restaurant.
#3: Armani Café
This cafe lies at the intersection of Via Manzoni and Via Montenapoleone Streets, on the ground floor of the largest Emporio Armani Store. This stylish cafe may seem a bit glamorous, and very often you can meet there the representatives of fashion industry. This café is worth visiting not for a normal meal, but for a cup of coffee and a dessert. The prices are quite cheap. For example, a cup of caramel macchiato costs around €1.5 and additionally you’ll get a few cookies with a small bar of chocolate.
Be aware that if you take a seat at the table the same cup of coffee will cost €3.50. So, you’d better take a seat at the bar.
#4: Brek Ristorante
This is a network of self-service restaurants. Where you need to take a tray, to queue up and choose what you like, and afterwards to go to the cashier. There is a huge hall in the basement of the restaurant, where you can find a seat even at rush hour. Brek offers very democratic prices and excellent quality dishes. Most tourists who come to Milan for shopping have never heard of Brek and have never been there, although it lies very close to Piazza San Babila. You just need to walk only 100 meters through the gallery of the house.
An average bill for one person is around €10-15.
#5: Spizzico Bar
This eatery is located on Dante Street that connects Piazza del Duomo to Castello Sforzesco. Unlike the other cafes and bars located on this street, Spizzico bar is a network of public catering establishments. This positively affects the prices and the speed of service. The bar offers a limited choice of dishes, but you needn’t wait for a long while, because all the meals are ready and served. Spizzico bar is a good choice when you are limited with time or money.
#6: Al Conte Ugolino Restaurant
This cozy restaurant is located at Piazza Cesare Beccaria, not far from Piazza Duomo. It specializes in seafood. Take into consideration that this restaurant is highly esteemed by the locals and very often there are no seats in the evening. But this place is recommended to visit, because it will let you experience the indescribable atmosphere of the traditional Italian hospitality. The prices there are quite favorable, and an average bill can be around €25 per person.
One more thing all shoppers in Milan should remember of is the “happy hours”, which start at around 7 pm. This is the time when you can get a full meal in one of the local bars for a very modest price. But, be aware, the Italians love visiting bars during happy hours, so make sure you manage to go to one of the bars on time!
Finally, it should be mentioned that if you want to become acquainted with the real traditional Italian cuisine and culture, then Milan is not the best choice for that. In this case, it’s worth to rent a cheap car at Milan’s airport and visit the nearby regions.
An excellent choice for experiencing authentic Italian food and mode of life will be the provincial towns and rural areas of Italy where the richness of local customs and traditions has been preserved and transmitted through the generations over centuries.
Lily Berns likes to write and takes photos of interesting places. During her free time, she travels in different cities with her friends.