Last month, I had a business trip to Turin and Milan, Italy. While it was a jam-packed and busy trip, there was still plenty of time to enjoy the magnificent food in Italy. I’ll start with highlights from Milan.
One of my Italian colleagues is also a big foodie and he had recommended a couple of restaurants in Milan. He raved about Trattoria del Pescatore (Via Atto Vannucci, 5). I ended up eating there last minute and I kept calling in hopes of making a lunch reservation. Since they didn’t pick up the phone, I showed up right when they opened at 12:30pm (hence the photo of an empty restaurant). The restaurant owners and waiters were so kind to me and gave me a corner seat. I ordered the bottarga (salted cured roe) and clams spaghetti and Catalan-style lobster. The lobster is not for the faint of heart. It’s definitely a lot of work to eat. I rolled up my sleeves, used my lobster cracker and dug in with my fingers. While the lobster flesh was incredibly tasty, it was much smaller than I expected and expensive. I’d gladly go back and try other dishes. Reservations are an absolute must. The place was packed and they had to turn people away. I really enjoyed the atmosphere because the customers were all locals and a lot of them were regulars. It was really fun to watch the interaction of the staff with some of their most loyal customers.
Giulio Pane e Ojo (Via Ludovico Muratori, 10) was also recommended to me for their Roman-style food. It was a really quaint restaurant and extremely popular. I enjoyed a delicious bucatini with a slightly spicy tomato sauce with slices of pancetta and a beautiful medium-rare steak. I basically ate red meat every chance I could get since the steak in China is so expensive. Giulio Pane e Ojo must be written up in a lot of tourist reviews because the entire restaurant was foreigners. Next to me was a Russian couple, across from me was British couple and on the other side of the room was a table full of Americans. It didn’t quite have that same local Italian feel that Trattoria del Pescatore had.
I’ve written about Il Giardino de Segreti (Via Pasquale Sottocorno, 17) before, but I had to mention it again. It was the best meal I had in Milan and it was just as good as I remembered. It’s the best bottarga spaghetti I’ve ever had and the tagliata (rare meat) was amazing. The tagliata is very thinly sliced beef and they serve it rare. I made the mistake of ordering it medium rare. Since the plate it’s served on is very hot, the beef actually continues to cook after being served. So my medium rare became too well-done for my taste. It’s better to just let them serve it their classic house style.
On to the meal highlights in Turin! During my cab ride from the airport to work, the driver told me about Eataly. My very first exposure to Eataly was in New York, but I had no idea that the originally Eataly was in Turin. In case you’re not familiar with the franchise, Eataly is a high-end Italian food emporium. It is in a HUGE building and inside the supermarket are basically casual stands where you can order food. We had a company meal in the pizza and pasta section. I really fell in love with the tomato sauce on the pizza. It was the freshest tomato sauce I’ve tasted on a pizza in Italy– you could imagine eating tomatoes that had been ripened in the sun. I also had a specialty pasta from Piedmont region, which had a meat filling and gravy sauce.
I was taken to Eno by my co-workers and I’m glad they did. I would have never known about this restaurant otherwise. It’s a quirky restaurant with an interesting decor (and excellent drinks). The menu is based on seasonal and locally-sourced produce and so it changes very often. I ate some really delicious fritters made from chick pea flour (first time having chick pea flour) and a slowly-braised lamb shank with almonds and spinach. My favorite dish was one my colleague ordered, which was grilled octopus with polenta. Eno would be a good choice for anyone who is vegan or vegetarian because they always make sure to have a couple of vegan options.
Other highlights in Turin, included a ragu pasta at La Capannina Osteria (via Viaitaliano Donati, 1); the most amazing seafood risotto of life at Pizzeria Ristorante Turati 39 (Corso Filippo Turati, 39); and mouth-watering gelato at Alberto Marchetti (Corso Vittorio Emanuele II). And, there you have it! If you have a chance to travel to Milan or Turin, I hope you can try some of these restaurants.