Where to eat in Brera, Milan. The ultimate guide

Feb 21 2024, 12:14
From luxury restaurants to the easiest sandwich shops, from trendy bistros to historic pastry shops, there is no shortage of good addresses in one of the most glamorous neighborhoods in Milan. Here are the best ones

You say Brera and think of artists and intellectuals, the Pinacoteca, and places among the most glamorous and characteristic under the Madonnina. All true, although the area between via Pontaccio, via Fatebenefratelli, via dei Giardini, via Monte di Pietà, via Ponte Vetero, and via Mercato, undeniably charming, somewhat pays the price of stereotypes and doesn't escape the urban issues related to managing a metropolis like Milan. "The jewel crushed by outdoor seating and construction sites" is the title of an article published on the online newspaper MilanoToday, telling an unexpected behind-the-scenes story of luxury boutiques and trendy places, where "bars, restaurants, and tourists are taking up more and more space, while residents perceive neglect and carelessness."

But despite the less pleasant perspectives, it is inevitable to think of Brera as the neighborhood of elegance and good living, pedestrian alleys, and the homes of VIPs. The name derives from "braida," uncultivated land, and its fame is also due to the intellectual circle formed around the Academy of Fine Arts. It was also passionately narrated by Luciano Bianciardi in "La vita agra," who lived through the years of an economic boom he considered deceptive and ephemeral, only to be later captivated by the metropolitan spirit of Milan at that time.

In the Pinacoteca, located in the Palazzo di Brera along with the Academy of Fine Arts and the National Braidense Library, works by the greatest Lombard artists are preserved, from Mantegna's "Dead Christ" to Raphael's "Marriage of the Virgin," to Hayez's "The Kiss." Therefore, a tour of the neighborhood cannot ignore a visit to one of Italy's most important museums. Right next to it is the Orto Botanico, which, together with the Brera Observatory, forms the Astronomical-Botanical Museum of Brera, while the square in front of the church of San Marco hosts the local market every Monday and Thursday morning. Speaking of markets, the brocantage and antique market on via Fiori Chiari every third Sunday of the month is unmissable. On the food front, Brera offers solutions for every hour, craving, and target. Here are the best according to Gambero Rosso.

Where to Eat in Milan's Brera


Il Cairoli Bar & Restaurant by "UNA cucina"

Restaurant. Very central location, overlooking the Sforza Castle, and a bright dining room for the restaurant inside UNAHotels Cusani. Essential and direct menu, suitable for a business clientele and high-level tourism, focusing on Italian authenticity. The menu includes the "Old Milan" risotto and medallion of osso buco and its jus. Good wine list, efficient service.

Il Cairoli Bar & Restaurant by “UNA cucina” - via Cusani, 13 - 02 8560605 - gruppouna.it

Caruso Nuovo del Grand Hotel et de Milan

Restaurant. A hotel with 160 years of history where writers, painters, musicians have passed, a symbol of the city where, in addition to the gourmet Don Carlos, Caruso Nuovo now operates after a philological restyling, set up by Gennaro Esposito. He brought here a cuisine based on a salon and polyglot Neapolitanism, with a lot of attention to vegetables. Mixed pasta soup with seafood, Milanese cutlet, the inevitable Neapolitan baba with custard and seasonal fruit. A slimmer menu at lunch.

Caruso Nuovo del Grand Hotel et de Milan - via A. Manzoni, 19 - 02 723141 - grandhoteletdemilan.it


Restaurant. Glamorous and international, it is the restaurant of Agustina Gandolfo, wife of the footballer Lautaro Martinez. The name is "courage" in Spanish, with a Mediterranean and South American soul and a health-conscious approach. For a break at any time, with Sunday brunch and the fashionable touch one would expect.

Coraje - via Marco Formentini, 92 - 02 84542968 - corajerestaurant.com


Restaurant. Milan is never "satiated" with seafood restaurants: DeRos - in a secluded but actually very central location - is a good choice for those who don't like fine dining (although excellent) inside the grand hotels in the area. A classic place, with discreet elegance and some tables on the mezzanine. The menu is reassuring, with uncomplicated dishes highlighting excellent raw materials. Crudos and the catch of the day complete the offer.

DeRos - via G. Romagnosi, 4 - 02 36517680 - derosmilano.com

Casa Fiori Chiari

Restaurant. Practically in front of Vesta, which is part of the same group (as well as Ciumbia), it has become a real "home" for those living in the area, many foreign tourists, and the audience looking for informality enjoying proper Italian cuisine, including a very light pizza crust and quality toppings. Everyone enjoys spaghetti with tomato sauce, fried calamari with tartare sauce, seared tuna with almonds, and the inevitable cutlet. Delicious desserts and a good-level wine cellar. The service is punctual, smiling even in frequent crowded situations.

Casa Fiori Chiari - via Fiori Chiari, 8 - 02 49623564 - casafiorichiari.com


Restaurant. The French group Big Mamma, now with 24 venues in five countries, landed in Milan on December 1, 2023, with a space designed by Studio Kiki (internal to the group) and themed around Italianity and the good value for money. On the menu, cured meats and cheeses from Italian producers and dishes like Ligurian girella, a pappardelle rolled up with shredded rabbit ragù, served in a sauce reduced with raisins, pine nuts, and dill, and the Wellington-style turbot. Italian drinks, small wineries.

Gloria - via Tivoli, 3 - 344 073 9345 - gloria-osteria.com

Locanda alla Scala

Restaurant. Alberto Tasinato, an enlightened owner after a great experience as a maître, knows the Milanese public well: hence the success of this "inn" in Brera, with a stylish interior and a highly sought-after internal garden. An even clearer idea of an Italian menu, with some "clever" references to the '70s and '80s, substantial and tasty. Unmissable cream ice cream with various toppings, served on a cart. Comfortable, followed by precise service and enjoying the right bottle or glass.

Locanda alla Scala -via dell'Orso, 1 - 02 8693273 - locandaallascala.it

Sadler at Hotel Casa Baglioni

Restaurant. The lord of the Naviglio Pavese, a protagonist on the scene for over thirty years, without completely abandoning the waterway where the beloved Chic 'n Quick remains, brought fine dining to an elegant boutique hotel in a 1960s style. The room is also in theme, very linear and clean, lighter than the one on the Naviglio. An ideal stage for the chef's three courses, assisted by the resident Korean Park Kisung and in great shape as one could expect from such an important step in his brilliant career. Given that the menu is always available (with the year referring to the dish), you can opt for Tradition and Innovation or Creative pure, plus the vegetarian. Impressive wine cellar, extreme attention to sustainability, and more.

Sadler all'Hotel Casa Baglioni - via dell'Annunciata, 14 - 02 58104451 - ristorantesadler.it

Seta by Antonio Guida

Restaurant. One of the best hotel restaurants in Italy is where Antonio Guida, a cook of rare sensitivity and acumen, has been working for years with a close-knit and talented brigade. The menu changes often and is the result of continuous research, experimentation, and insights in every field. On the vegetable front, for example, second season, here  is the "Vertical Garden," eggplant in pepper extract, corn fettuccine in green and red tomato sauce and pistachio, cauliflower in tempura with carrot glaze and cold broth on the side. Or sweetbreads (chocolate and grapefruit, exemplary contrasts), eel foie gras and miso sauce, the signature "ficatum" chicken, raisin sauce, and offal mille-feuille. Impressive wine cellar, extreme attention to sustainability, and more.

Seta by Antonio Guida - via Monte di Pietà, 18 - 02 87318897 - mandarinoriental.com


Restaurant. Marie-Henri Beyle - the real name of the writer Stendhal, who loved Milan - would not mind knowing that they dedicated the sign of a restaurant on the border of Brera, always crowded, where Milanese tradition is celebrated worthily. True, the extensive foreign attendance has brought dishes outside the Bastioni circle to the menu - see the seafood offer - but it is always worth focusing on the classics: mondeghili, risotto al salto, the "high" veal Milanese. There is also a tasting with cocktail pairing. Adequate cellar, fast service.

Stendhal - via Ancona, 1 - 02 6572059 - stendhalmilano.it

Trattorias, pizzerias, and bistros in Brera, Milan

U Barba Bottega Genovese

Bistro. The third sign of the family, after the Osteria in via Decembrio and the Gastronomy at the Central Market, was born last summer with an easy and flexible format that also includes an aperitif (with cocktails). The cuisine is DOC Ligurian, so pesto to season testaroli, trofie, trenette, mandilli, and then Ligurian focaccia, farinata, and other street food specialties (to be enjoyed seated). There is also outdoor seating.

U Barba Bottega Genovese - via Pontaccio, 5 - 02 49406749 - ubarba.it


Pizzeria. Here you can see the evolution of the Borgia brothers' brand, based on healthy eating without sacrificing taste. The "medal" displayed is the certificate of conformity to organic catering, given the (concrete) attention to organic raw materials, mostly Italian and particularly Sicilian. The pizza dough is prepared with stone-ground flours and naturally leavened for 72 hours. Two lines for the oven: classic and house. Also, appetizers, salads, well-made first and second courses. High-level cellar and precise service. Business lunch from Monday to Friday, Sunday brunch.

Bioesserì - via Fatebenefratelli, 2 - 02 89071052 - bioesseri.it

Trattoria del Ciumbia

Trattoria. Contemporary osteria with a kitchen of tradition with a modern touch, as is now the prevailing trend. As the sign predicts, it is mainly the Milanese classics that dominate, although the menu is articulated. In fact, there are no shortages of Milanese topics, from yellow rice to cutlet, from mondeghili to cassoeula, but there are also cotechino, apples and horseradish, pumpkin tortelli, tripe in stew with borlotti beans, a selection of local cheeses.

Trattoria del Ciumbia - via Fiori Chiari, 32 - 02 49596056 -trattoriadelciumbia.com

Mandarin Garden Bar & Restaurant

Bistro. If Seta by Antonio Guida plays in a league of its own, Garden plays a daily game, from breakfast to night, always marked by the qualities that appeal to Milanese and the many foreigners who sleep above. The indoor environment does not feel the weight of age, the courtyard is one of the most beautiful in the city. The menu, obviously curated by Antonio Guida, tells Italy through well-executed classics, with a section of "delights" to share open to the world. Mixology is obviously of a high standard, both for pairing and before and after dinner. Considering the perfect service, it's no wonder that it's always crowded (and much loved by VIPs).

Mandarin Garden Bar & Restaurant - via Andegari, 9 - 02 87318898 - mandarinoriental.com


Bistro. It immediately won over the fashion-conscious audience looking for fish and shellfish, the fishy soul of the company that also owns Casa Fiori Chiari (at number 8 on the same street) and the Trattoria del Ciumbia. It is objectively one of the most beautiful places of the last generation, signed by Stefano Belingardi, with a spectacular outdoor space with a Sanremo-style staircase and two interiors, where you can have an aperitif and after-dinner, sit in the restaurant or at the two counters. On the menu, therefore, fish, natural or in moderately creative dishes. Adequate cellar, very efficient service.

Vesta - via Fiori Chiari, 1A - 02 49500590 - vestafiorichiari.com

Sandwich shops, gourmet breaks, gastronomies in Brera, Milan


Gourmet Break. Carmine Rotondaro, a globetrotting Calabrian, fashion entrepreneur, in 2018 took over the Rivoire chocolate shop in its historic Florentine location in Piazza della Signoria. In September 2023, he landed under the Madonnina - with two more locations in the pipeline, Porta Venezia and Cadorna, each with its own peculiarity - in a large place on two floors mainly aimed at the world of aperitifs and mixology (but not only). The chocolate, the brand's flagship, continues to come from Florence, and the pastry is Milanese. Open all day.

Rivoire - via Marco Formentini, 9 - 02 45395956 - rivoire.it

Sette Cucinaurbana

Gourmet Break. Environments with modern design and sober elegance, including external arcades, frame a 360-degree level offer. From the attached laboratory come pastries and leavened products for breakfast, which is accompanied by a valid coffee service. From the kitchen, on the other hand, well-presented reinterpretations of tradition and proposals dictated by the market and imagination come to the table. All supported by an adequate choice of wines and attentive service.

Sette Cucinaurbana - via dell'Orso, 2 - 02 89092660 - settecucinaurbana.it

Store Laboratorio Niko Romito

Gastronomy. A minimal shop in full "Romitiano" style, it is the Milanese flagship store of the chef of Reale di Castel di Sangro, where you can buy leavened products, sweets, spreads, savory snacks, baked goods, all made in his laboratory. The bread - also "from the fridge," to be consumed after regenerating in the oven - is the king of the proposal, available in four variants.

Store Laboratorio Niko Romito - via Solferino, 12 - 02 64131788 - shop.laboratorionikoromito.it

La Tasteria

Sandwich shop. The "headquarters" is in Messina and is the result of the brilliant entrepreneurial idea of the young Francesco Antonuccio with the intention of making the delights of his land known to a wide audience. There are two types of gourmet sandwiches, Pantaste (also available in mini format, ideal for an aperitif) and Taste, made with bread specially made by a Sicilian bakery and filled with quality island ingredients: cold cuts, cheeses, pickles, vegetables, fish, extra virgin olive oil, and whatever else. Drinks and desserts in line. Catering service.

La Tasteria - via San Fermo, 1 - 02 36693722 - latasteria.it

Rossi & Grassi

Gastronomy. More than fifty years of history for this sign, a reliable address for buying fresh pasta, cured meats, and cheeses from Italian and foreign selections, sweets, and wines. Long and rich is the counter of ready-made dishes, with many classic recipes such as assorted vol-au-vents, gratin scallops, Burgundy snails. Niche products such as Iranian caviar, mullet bottarga, Scottish wild salmon are not lacking.

Rossi & Grassi - via Solferino, 12 - 02 6599556 - rossiegrassi.it

Bars and pastry shops in Brera, Milan


Bar. Craft coffee shop and roaster, Cafezal is now a consolidated reference in the world of specialty coffee, and with the opening (in April 2023) in Corso Magenta, it now boasts three city locations. The use of lever machines makes the coffee particularly creamy, and millimeter control of the temperature guarantees perfect extractions. Interesting brunch proposal, with sandwiches, savory brioches, egg-based dishes, and seasonal products. During the warm season, also fresh and refreshing drinks based on cold brew.

Cafezal - via Solferino, 27 - 02 62695506 - cafezal.it

Giovanni Cova & C.

Pastry shop. Almost at the ribbon-cutting of the first century of life (it was born in 1930), the pastry shop with "the crown" - the symbol of the sign - continues to shine thanks to its shop windows, among the most inviting in the area. A very famous brand for large leavened products (first of all panettone), it welcomes with a large and well-kept place, crowded from the morning. The viennoiserie is valid, but the best comes from the pastry shop, classy and tasty. Good proposal of dishes for a quick lunch and pleasant aperitif.

Giovanni Cova & C. - via Cusani, 10 - 02 36682366 - giovannicovaec.it

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