Narrow cobblestoned streets, flowers trailing down the front of pastel-hued buildings and an abundance of charming cafés make Brera one of Milan’s prettiest neighbourhoods. Come to Brera for the fashion and elegant streets, and stay for the abundance of food choices.
Once the city’s artistic heart due to the 18th-century fine art academy-turned-gallery, now Brera is renowned as the luxury fashion district, home to every high-end designer in the world. One enormous pedestrian-only zone, there’s no better way to discover Brera than an afternoon or evening on foot in search of a delicious meal. But to save you the extra legwork, we’ve rounded up a list of the best restaurants to check out.
L'Osteria di Brera, Milano
Restaurant, Italian, $$$
Offering an alternative to the Milanese cuisine found in trattorias across the city, Osteria di Brera serves fresh seafood sourced every day from the markets. With more than 25 years of experience under his belt, head chef and owner Enrico Forti prides himself on reinterpreting classic dishes to create mouth-watering combinations like the linguine al ragout d’astice (lobster stew), and tagliatelle con tartufi di mare, fasolari e pomodorini (tagliatelle with sea truffles, fasolari clams and cherry tomatoes).
There are few better places to people-watch than at the Bulgari Hotel. Elegant, refined and overlooking their spectacular garden, the Il Ristorante Niko Romito is one of the fashion crowd’s preferred hotspots for good reason. Three-Michelin-star chef Niko Romito’s menu draws on traditional Italian flavours for signature dishes including Cotoletta di vitello alla Milanese (crispy suckling pig with orange caramel sauce).
Il Salumaio Di Montenapoleone is a family-owned restaurant with classically Italian decor and food | Courtesy of Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone
Be transported back in time as you feast among marble statues in the expansive courtyard of a stunning 19th-century palace. Keeping it in the family for three generations, Il Salumaio Di Montenapoleone’s menu is simple, but expertly executed. If you’re not ready to commit to a full meal, grab some melt-in-your-mouth prosciutto, burrata and marinated olives from the attached deli, open since 1957.
Momus Ristorante, located in Via Arco, is a classic Italian restaurant that focusses on a great selection of pizzas – fresh from its traditional wood burning oven – a choice of pastas, lasagna and risotto, as well as Italian desserts. The specialties of the house are the margherita pizza that comes with mozzarella and fresh basil and the crostata ai frutti di bosco, which is a traditional Italian fruit cake. This is the perfect place to experience authentic Milanese culinary culture at very reasonable prices.
For meals that conjure home cooking by Nonna with a distinctly Tuscan flair, Bice is a must-visit. Watch the chefs work their magic in the open kitchen as they create silky homemade pasta to mix with bottarga cream or fragrant basil pesto. Comfortable and unpretentious, the restaurant has been a favourite among Milan’s rich and famous for over eight decades.
Nestled deep in the centre of Brera, Il Consolare offers seafood with a focus on locally caught, high-quality produce – from oysters and scampi to octopus and lobster. The interior is light-filled and stylish, with a small but expertly selected wine list to perfectly complement the simple, flavoursome dishes. Attentive, friendly staff are always ready and willing to recommend pairings if you’re after a nudge in the right direction.
If you need a night off from the pasta and pizza, head to Michelin-recommended Pacifico for Peruvian meals with an Asian influence. Low light, velvet and leather, with a predominantly black and navy blue colour palate dominate the spaces, making it feel as if you’ve been welcomed into an exclusive gentlemen’s club. Don’t miss the succulent sea bass ceviche, washed down with a pisco sour.
Since its conception in 1977, family-run restaurant Paper Moon has maintained its status as one of Brera’s best eateries. Situated in a beautiful Neoclassical palazzo, on nice days make sure to snag a seat outside to dine under the stars in the warm air. For a decadent twist on a classic, try the pizza tartufata, with mozzarella, porcini and white truffle cream.
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Cheap and cheerful, Il Kaimano offers a veritable smorgasbord of authentic Italian favourites – everything from pumpkin flowers stuffed with ricotta to spaghetti alla bolognese. Crisp white tablecloths with red roses in a vase make it feel as if you’re straight out of a 1950s movie. While it’s undoubtedly on the slightly more touristy end of the spectrum, the meals are generous, tasty and you’re sure to leave with a smile on your face.
Nabucco, named so due to its proximity to the Teatro all Scala and referencing Giuseppe Verdi’s iconic opera of the same name, is located just off the bustling Via Fiori Chiari. With a wide-ranging menu and top-shelf wine list, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Soft, warm lighting and cosy spaces make for an intimate atmosphere, perfect for a date night. To top it off, the desserts are definitely worth saving some room for – the tiramisù never disappoints.