Milan, Nov. 2, 2010—LUNCH AND DINNER TODAY at places found per caso, at random, within easy walks of our hotel on the Corso Buenos Aires, not far from the Piazza Venezia — an area becoming more fashionable just now, even in this slow economy.
Lunch was at a seafood restaurant nearby, a big, spacious, brightly lit, comfortable place with big photomurals of the Amalfitani coast on the wall. We looked at the extensive menus, then engaged in conversation with the waiter, who brought a couple of fish out to show us and described how they might be cooked. We agreed, and wound up with a nice firm fish braised in piquant tomato sauce well laced with enormous capers, too many olives, a little fennel, lots of flavor.
I would call this a Sicilian restaurant. The Pugliese waiter, clearly a spokesman for the place, disagreed. He proudly led me to a much bigger dining room downstairs, waving at the photomurals: Look: this is Sicily. Over here, this is Sardegna. You saw the Amalfi coast; over here is Liguria. This is an all-Italian restaurant, in Milano, because the Milanese cooking is not really very interesting.
I'm not sure I don't agree.
Colomba Platino, Duca di Salaparuta (Sicily), 2009
Trattoria Il Bragosso, via Omboni, 4; tel. 02 29521357
But where to eat dinner? We asked a man on the street; he waved us down a block, another to the right, then to the left, to a restaurant called La Ragazza. It was closed, of course. But nearby was a brightly lit, brightly decorated place with an attractive menu promising spaghetti caccia e pepe, with grated cheese and pepper, one of my favorites, so in we went.
I had a brilliant and delicious appetizer, ceci e baccalà; the chick-peas served as a rough purée, flavored deeply with onions and olive oil, the salt-cod beautifully cooked as scraps and scattered across the purée. Then the spaghetti, which was very nearly as good as anything I'd had in Rome.
Bianco di Lazio, 2009
Osteria Arrivederci Roma, via Malpighi 7, Milan; tel. 800.03.19.95