Italian food is every bit as delicious at street level, and Milan has several fast food institutions as well as a new influx of trendy vendors. In addition, Milan is one of Italy’s most culturally diverse cities, meaning there are also plenty of international street food options on offer. Here’s our pick of the top kiosks and hole-in-the-walls.
Food Kiosk, Spanish, South American, European
Aguacate (Spanish for avocado) is a bar dedicated to the 21st century’s most fashionable vegetable. From a small, wooden-clad hole-in-the-wall in Milan’s hip Porta Venezia neighbourhood, this place serves up the most healthy and refreshing street food in the city using ingredients originally from Latin America. It is the brainchild of three long-time Milanese friends, one of whom studied at the prestigious University of Gastronomic Sciences in Bra, Piedmont, where the Slow Food Movement was founded back in 1986. The said friend conducts research throughout Latin America and has brought his expertise and passion for produce to the Aguacate menu.
The menu features several variations of two dishes – stuffed avocado skins and wraps, plus sides of avocado or plantain fries and lentil and bulgar wheat croquettes. The latter are little bites of heaven infused with a soft, surprising spice mix and the guacamole salsa served with the fries is so zingy and smooth it should have its own range. At the beginning, Aguacate was a vegan venture, but now they also offer toppings such as prawn or Iberico ham, as well as a sweet option using yoghurt. Whatever skin or wrap you choose, the ingredients (such as crumbled maize and tamarillo) are expertly combined to create distinct and delicate flavours. Organic wine and beer is also on offer (with mezcal and avocado cocktails on the horizon), so grab a drink and a stool and join everyone else enjoying avocado on the pavement. Prices range from €3.90 to €8.90 (USD$4.50 to 10.30).
In 2017 La Repubblica, one of Italy’s main broadsheet papers published an article titled ‘My 50 years of chicken on a spit’, telling the story of Dorando Giannasi, the founder of this Milanese fast food institution. Located on the scruffy Piazza Buozzi in the now upmarket neighbourhood of Porta Romana, the Giannasi kiosk is renowned for its roast chicken. The birds are soaked for 24 hours in a marinade of salt, thyme, oregano, marjoram and other herbs (apparently it took Giannasi years to find the perfect balance), before being slowly roasted on a spit – this is not fast food chicken.You can order a chicken whole or in slices and can choose from a variety of accompaniments – potato croquettes recommended. A whole roast chicken (remember these are happy chickens not pumped full of water and hormones, so are smaller than the average supermarket bird) is just €4.50 (USD$5.20). If you are travelling with vegetarian friends fear not, the counter now also offers other many dishes. You can’t miss the kiosk with its red and white striped awnings and retro bright green typography.
Ravioleria Sarpi is a small counter that opens onto the main pedestrianised street of Milan’s discreet Chinatown, serving a unique hybrid of traditional Italian ravioli and Chinese dumplings. This has proved a winning combination – there is always a steady flow of people queuing on the street. The ‘ravioli’ are prepared on the spot by founder Agie Hujian Zhou’s team: the fresh pasta parcels are stuffed with typically Eastern ingredients such as spiced beef, pork and cabbage or ginger tofu, before being steamed rather than boiled. You can pick four ravioli for just €4 (USD$4.60). They also offer a type of crepe typical of Northern China, with both meat and vegetarian fillings. Ravioleria Sarpi is brilliantly positioned opposite Chinatown’s best wine bar, Cantine Isola, so it is the perfect place for a pre- or post-drink snack.
TestaMi is a small Italian deli specialising in Lunigiana Italian artisanal products, as well as offering a compact menu of dishes that utilise their delicious, high-quality ingredients. The menu is centred around two dishes, the first being sgabei, a fried bread roll with indulgent filling such as Lunigiana lard and Valle del Lucido honey, or raw sausage, and the second being testaroli, a unique type of Tuscan pasta that resembles a thin square crumpet. This last pasta dish is finished with sauces such as ragout of Tuscan livers, classic tomato sauce and burrata stacciatella, or an amazing refreshing pesto made using 24-month-old Parmesan and Genoese basil. The steak tartare mixed with capers and whiskey is also absolutely exceptional.TestaMi is best for meat and cheese lovers who will appreciate the superiority and flavour of artisanal ingredients. You can find it in the fashionable Tortona district on via Andrea Solaris. It has a small decked area on the pavement with bar stools and high tables so you can eat on the street in comfort. A handful of wines and craft beers are on offer to accompany your meal.
You will find this small bakery tucked down a little side street just behind the Duomo, and you are also likely to find a queue coming out the door. It was established in 1888 but it wasn’t until 1949, when Signora Giuseppina Luini from Puglia took over, that it started producing the delicious panzerotti that it is now famous for. Panzerotti (also called calzoni by Sicilians) are a traditional Puglia baked good – pizza dough is folded into a shape that resembles a Cornish pasty and is stuffed with any number of delicious fresh ingredients before being quickly deep-fried. The special Luini panzerotti recipe is closely guarded by Giuseppina’s son and grandchildren who run the bakery today.