Sunday, May 28, 2017

Some casual-dining options in Milan for the #winelover in you

Like many US-originating visitors to Piemonte, I either fly into Torino and hightail it to the hills or fly into Milan with the same result. This time, though, Ron, Bev, Parlo, and I planned it differently. We flew into Milan at midday on Saturday and stayed until Sunday afternoon and, on the way out, we left Piemonte after a Friday morning meeting and stayed in Milan until Saturday (for them) and Sunday (for us). This itinerary gave us two solid blocks of time to explore some of the culinary and vinous offerings of the city.

We had no clear jumping-off point so Ron asked the concierge at the Park Hyatt for  a recommendation of a nearby establishment with a quality wine list where we could have a late lunch. He directed us to what turned out to be Giacomo Arengario located on the third floor of the Museo del Novocento. From the Hyatt we had a pleasant walk through the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II, across the plaza fronting the Duomo, to the museum on the other side of the square.

Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II

We entered the museum on the ground floor but could not find the entrance to the elevator so we walked up a large spiral that circled the elevator shaft all the way to the restaurant on the third floor. We were directed to tables resident on a veranda that looked out over the Duomo and the crowds milling about on the plaza below. It was stunning. But we had work to do.

Il Quarto Stato (The Fourth Estate) by Pellizza da Volpedo.
On display on the ground floor of Museo del Novocento

Our first order of business was perusal of the wine list. It did not disappoint. Ron saw a Jacques Selosse Initial and we agreed that that would be a great welcome drink. We paired that with some Langoustines to share and were delighted. In addition to the Initial, we ordered a 2011 Le Pergole Tortre. I had some grilled oysters as an appetizer and found it to be of high quality. This was a tasty late lunch and, by the way, a concert had begun in the plaza fronting the Duomo.

Grilled Oysters

We had gotten an initial taste of what Milan had to offer; and we wanted more. We asked the manager at Giacomo Arengario to recommend a nearby wine bar and, without missing a beat, he said Signorvino. After some additional questions, we decided to visit that establishment. It was about a 10-minute walk from where we were, towards the rear of the Duomo.

As we stepped through the door, I immediately thought of Lanivin in Paris. The establishment existed on multiple levels with retail wine sales and a coffee shop on the ground floor and additional retail sales and a limited-service restaurant on the top floor. Wine was everywhere. A small, glass-enclosed room just inside the entrance housed the gems.

We went up to the top floor and were told that they were fully booked. We could have a table now but would have to yield it at 8:00 pm in order for them to meet their reservations load. They did not remind us of this after we began ordering wine.

The staff at Signorvino is friendly and attentive and the large selection of wines ensures that you will find something to pair with your food. Given that we had just finished a late lunch, we bought some finger items to accompany the wines shown below.

Wines drunk at Signorvino

We had a great time at Signorvino but all good things must come to an end. Our normal practice when we travel together is to end the night with Champagne and chicken wings at the bar in Ron's hotel. The Park Hyatt did not have chicken wings so the guys settled for burgers and the 2007 Delamotte Le Mesnil while the ladies shared a pasta and a salad.

On Sunday we were scheduled to drive to Lake Como for lunch but had some difficulty with our rental car and opted for lunch in Milan instead. The Concierge recommended Ristorante Antica Osteria Stendahl which, he said, was only a 10-minute walk away, had great food, and a great wine list. He was misinformed on two of the foregoing: it took us 20 minutes to get there and the wine list was pedestrian.

The restaurant had seating both on the inside and outside. We opted for the former. As I perused the food menu, I heard grunts of displeasure coming from Ron's direction. He was not liking the wine offerings. The food, though, was another matter. The menu was organized as is traditional in most of Italy but then it had another section -- titled "The Way it used to be" -- that provided a selection of old-style dishes. And it was there that I did my damage. After a starter of creamed codfish, followed by Langoustines, I dug into an oven-baked rustic chicken with spicy sauce and oven-baked potatoes. This dish was as delicious as it was sizable.

Creamed Codfish

Oven-Baked Chicken and Potatoes

Wines drunk at Stendahl

We had a wonderful week tasting wines in Piemonte and, after our Friday mid-morning visit at Cantina Bartolo Mascarello, we headed out of Piemonte and back to Milan. We got back to the hotel around 3:00 pm, with the postponed lunch very much on our minds. The concierge pointed us to Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone. This restaurant is located on the ground floor of the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum in the heart of Milan's high-end shopping district, about a 15-minute walk from Il Duomo.

The restaurant has a very appealing outdoor seating area but the wives opted for the inside. The wine list here is copious and deep, the staff is very accommodating, and the food was of excellent quality. This restaurant is worth your time.

Wines drunk at Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone
A late lunch begets a late dinner so we did not show for dinner at Rovello 18 until around 9:30 pm. We were running very late so we took a cab over (We walked back to the hotel at the conclusion of the dinner and it took us around 20 minutes.).

As we came into the restaurant we saw a sideboard loaded down with top-end Italian wines and knew right away that we were going to have a good time that evening. I cannot say enough about the efforts of the Corina Cotoara, one-half of the management team, who went to every length to ensure that we had the best time ever. She was very patient in explaining the offerings and options on the menu and proved her customer focus when we purchased the first bottle of wine. The wine had a granny's attic character that both Ron and I thought would blow off (the wives felt differently, and let us know that) but, unbidden, Corina opened another bottle and brought it to the table. The new bottle was much fresher and drinking well right out of the gate. She said that the owner had trained her to not let the wine get in the way of the customer having a memorable time at the restaurant. She could do no wrong by us after that.

The menu was deep here and the dishes that we selected were memorable. Ron and I had been on a Tagliatelle kick, splitting a plate in every restaurant that we went to. This one was excellent. Of the Milan restaurants that we visited, this one had the best balance between food and wine. And the balance was at a very high level.

Ham and Culatello

Tagliatelle with Veal Ragu

Chef, one-half of the management team

Rabbit with Bacon

Corina Cotoara, other half of the management team

Wines drunk at Rovello 18

So fellow traveler, tarry a while and sample some of the Milanese offerings. Your overall trip will be enriched for the effort.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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