Travel /
Lombardia

Pranzo della domenica is back

In Milan Sunday lunch was no more, it was replaced by brunch. Now, the restaurants are full and pranzo della Domenica has become hype – but not at the trattoria.

 

In Milan during the week we went for a business lunch, and on weekends we met for brunch. The small Italian metropolis and the most international city of the Bel Paese had canceled the rite of Sunday lunch based on lasagna and roast with potatoes in the name of cooler options, pancakes and smoked salmon – because the “city of fashion” very often just follows fashion… even if in the province and in the rest of Italy Sunday lunch with relatives is still an institution, in Milan it was on the verge of extinction like the panda. Then 2020 changed everything.

 

The alternating phases of permanent curfews and restaurants closed in the evenings have led to the rediscovery, out of desperation rather than choice, of new hours and new habits. Aperitifs at 4 pm, food delivery, dinners at home and lunches at the restaurants… who had to raise the shutters even on the historic day of rest.

 

Sunday lunch is back in fashion, complete with a tablecloth and a bottle of wine, the Milanese have rediscovered the pleasure of sitting at the table for hours. Finally like in the rest of Italy and not just to drink cocktails at the counter of a bar. But it is useless to look for a trattoria of the past, those are closed and then on Sunday you would find only a few families and elderly gentlemen. Here are 5 addresses, from classic to unconventional, to experience a new-old city rite and get to know different souls of the city of Milan today (but not those of yesterday).

 

La Bettolina
The Trip Out of Town

Milan has always emptied itself on weekends: commuters stay at home and the Milanese flee, the city is left for those who come from the hinterland and tourists to shop and go out to the hotspots. Among the Milanese, for those who can, escape to their second home, to the sea or to the mountains, but if they can’t go anywhere then they head to Gaggiano, the favorite destination of the Milanese for their weekend outing. It is the first countryside encountered on the outskirts of the city, a few minutes from the A50, a bucolic place to feel on vacation. A great classic, so much so that among farmhouses and historic restaurants in a micro-town of a few thousand inhabitants, there is only the embarrassment of choosing where to go. But La Bettolina is new: young guys have taken over a historic place and made it a modern but still rustic location where they serve cocktails, craft beer, pizza, burgers, and excellent BBQ meat. No stereotypical Milanese cuisine or grandma’s dishes, rather heaven for smoked lovers. Old habits, contemporary design and menus that appeal to the new generations: this is perhaps the most Milanese Gaggiano address there is today.

 

 

Tipografia Alimentare
Brutalist cuisine and natural wines

Tipografia Alimentare has become an urban phenomenon for hipsters, lovers of natural wines and those who want to sit in a welcoming environment, smile and eat something unusual. They have the definitive brutalist cuisine because when it comes down to it there’s very little cooking as everything is based on choices of raw materials and smart combinations: little meat and many vegetables for dishes such as fregola, kale pesto, hazelnuts, formaggio d’asina; cedar, onion, and cheese with a flowery rind; cabbage, cauliflower, dried tomatoes, olives, capers, and almonds. Nordic style in many respects, but with all the warmth of mother and daughter which instead is very Italian. It is in an out-of-the-way corner on the Naviglio Martesana, an oasis little known to tourists where you can stroll along the very long cycle path that leads up to the city. You feel good, drink well and enjoy a Milan far from commonplaces. Perfect destination to ride a bike and then spend an afternoon exploring suburban life – no worries, when you are tired you go back to the center by subway.

 

L'Ile Douce
In the pastry shop, or in the park

L’Ile Douce is one of the new Milanese establishments and one of the most popular in the city: in honor of their French soul, they do not have Sunday lunch but serve the déjuner du dimanche. In reality they are very Italian and the owner Fabrizio Barbato was given the award of emerging pastry chef in 2018, the same year he opened, thanks to the panettone and pandoro, among the best in circulation, and to the maniacal care of every bakery or pastry product. Why go to a French pastry shop if we are in Milan? Because the “Milanese pastry shop” does not really exist and because you want to mix with couples and families in the Isola district. They produce excellent croissants and viennoiseries for breakfast, but their savory section satisfies those who want to have a quick lunch and accompany their awakening with a nice cappuccino. Stuffed savory croissants, bread and excellent French butter, cheeses, sandwiches, all with an incredible selection of raw materials, to be followed by at least a mignon or an ice cream.If it’s a nice day, they prepare a picnic basket: go to the park or go home to eat it on the sofa.

 

Bentoteca
Bento Gourmet

Eating Japanese for Sunday lunch? Here, the type of cuisine is not what’s trendy, people come for chef Yoji Tokuyoshi. Massimo Bottura’s ex-sous chef, he earned a Michelin star thanks to his “contaminated cuisine”, a mixture of Italy and Japan. In 2020 he converted the restaurant into a Bentoteca during Covid. Cheaper bills, a casual place that is always full and full of smiles: it has lost its star but gained appreciation from the customers who have made it the place to be (aka, book well in advance! ). Unmissable, because everyone will ask you “but have you been to the Bentoteca?” and to go there on Sunday is to “people watch” the true Milanese who enjoy a well-deserved rest. Without missing the rigor of the former gourmet table, they moved on to a comfortable lounge where you can eat eel and chicken Yakitori, soft katsusando of white bread and fried swordfish, cod karagee, miso ramen and bellini bellini bento – opening natural wines. To honor Instagram, order the Pandas, butter, and anchovies.

 

Sine Restaurant
With the chef's sfogliatelle

A beautiful modern restaurant, overlooking the park, and a chef from Campania who after years at the Bulgari Hotel has inaugurated his bistro of contemporary Mediterranean cuisine. On Sundays, it combines first and second courses brought to the table in trays and pans to share: paccheri, rabbit all’ischitana or peppered mussels, gin and grapefruit, potato gattò with provolone and crab, la pizzetta fritta al nero, always perfect ragù Neapolitan style and first courses. Recipes that change every Sunday, according to the season, and then like any self-respecting Sunday lunch, you will be spoiled for choice of dessert! A round table next to the entrance (to experience the sweet finale from the very beginning) is filled with sweets and delicacies of the Neapolitan tradition: in layered stands, protected by glass domes and served by the pastry chef, here you find babà, sfogliatelle, Neapolitan pastiera and caprese cake, but also spoon desserts such as tiramisu (made fresh at the moment) or lemon delight, fruit jellies, caramelized popcorn and candies. Of course, for those who want to order à la carte, there is also a different small menu every Sunday.

La Bettolina

Tipografia Alimentare

L'Ile Douce

Bentoteca

Sine Restaurant