While in Milan, there was no fine dining for me – I spent most of my time on the go, not sitting down to have any long meals in restaurants. It’s possible that I missed out on some Milanese culinary treats, but in their stead, I found two cheap, to-go options that I became mildly obsessed with during my time in the city. In fact, I revisited each for a second time while in Milan, and I have no regrets. Sometimes, repetition is good – particularly when it takes the form of melted cheese or yummy ice cream.
I first heard about Luini while watching an ancient episode of Samantha Brown’s travel show during college. Something about it must have stuck with me over the years, because Luini was the first place I stopped for food in Milan – and it makes legitimately one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.
Luini’s specialty, panzerotti, almost resemble calzones, except they’re smaller and approximately eight million times better (seriously). Luini serves them piping hot, made with an exterior of soft, almost sweet dough and filled with a variety of savory items. Because I made a return trip, I sampled several varieties. My absolute favorite? The hot salami and mozzarella.
One thing I loved about Luini was that, even though it appears in guidebooks, it’s obviously a favorite with locals too. The first time I visited, I went early in the day, breezed right up to the counter, and walked away with my panzerotti with minimal fuss. The second time I visited, I arrived right around dinner. Before I could even see the shop, I could hear it – the crowds of Italians spilling out onto the sidewalk, some jostling for a place in the extremely pushy mass of people surging forward to the counter and others standing out on the streets, eating their newly acquired panzerotti. If you go to Luini at a peak time, you definitely have to be assertive to work your way up to the counter, but if you can make it through the gauntlet, it’s so worth it.
When I think Italy, I think gelato – even when visiting on a chilly February weekend. In fact, I was not at all about to let the cold weather stop me from enjoying one of Italy’s signature desserts.
I opted to head to Grom for my gelato fix, and I was not disappointed. Grom’s gelato philosophy is one I can get on board with: they add no artificial additives or coloring to their gelato, and they only use seasonal ingredients. The implications of only using seasonal fruits for my visit? I was able to scoop up (cheesy pun absolutely intended) the delicious mandarin orange flavor. And, yes, I paired it with dark chocolate because I’m strange like that.
The bottom line when visiting Milan is that while it’s a classy, elegant city, you can also find plenty of cheap but incredibly tasty things to eat. And if you don’t visit Luini while there? Well, then, I pretty much think you are crazy.