Today, the Navigli district in Milan refers to the area where the Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese cross, in the Southern part of the city near Porta Genova, where an old city wall–the one that appropriately led to Genova–once stood. In this neck of the woods, you’ll find a multitude of restaurants in Milan, dotting both sides of each canal.
The Navigli were a series of five canals that were constructed between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries to make the landlocked city more accessible to the outside world. Leonardo da Vinci, who wasn’t born until 1452, is often inaccurately credited as the mastermind of these canals, although he did contribute to their construction, the dam system in particular.
Adjectives that have been used to describe the neighborhood include bohemian, cool, loud, cute, hip, trendy charming, gritty and tourist trap. It’s definitely worth a visit despite the fact that its increasing popularity during the last few years rendered some truth to the latter term. You’ll find plenty of these tourist traps lining the canal banks as well as gimmicky boats setting up shop on the canals with trampolines, batting cages and more, and while yes, these antics do take away from the ambiance, we love the Navigli nevertheless as you’ll also find some of our favorite restaurants in Milan here. Here are five of the best restaurants in Milan in the Navigli District. – Jackie DeGiorgio
All photos by Jackie DeGiorgio unless otherwise specified.
This restaurant and gourmet shop from Gianluca Biscalchin, Andrea De Michelis, Raffaele Sangiovanni and Mark Tamaro has been a welcome addition to Milan’s food scene since its 2013 opening. Open all day, Taglio offers breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as an aperitivo. Or you can pop in for what’s Milan’s best cup of coffee mid-day. Menu includes Eggs Benedict for breakfast and weekend brunch, risotto alla Milanese, parimigiana, cotoletta sbagliata, a traditional Milanese cutlet made with pork instead of veal, and seasonal specialties have included puntarella with stracciatella (pictured). You’ll find a number of quality meat and cheese plates for aperitivo and the wine list features a thoughtful selection of small–mostly natural and biodynamic–Italian producers. And they have free WiFi, too!
Via Vigevano, 10; +39 02 3653 4294
Monday – Friday: 8am to 11:45pm
Saturday & Sunday: 9am to 11:45pm
Milan loves Matias Perdomo and the Milanese were eager to see the chef’s next move after he left Al Pont de Ferr, a beloved 30 year-old osteria that joined the Michelin ranks under the chef’s tutelage. He opened Contraste in September, a fine dining restaurant that showcases the chef’s signature playful cuisine. It’s definitely on the pricier side, but well worth it.
Via Meda, 2 + 39 02 4953 6597
Sunday: 12pm-2pm; 7pm-11pm
28 Posti translates to 28 places, which is exactly the amount of covers the restaurant seats per turn. As part of the Made in Bollate project, inmates of the Penitentiary Institute of Bollate, a nearby commune in Lombardy, helped construct the restaurant. There’s a slight Nordic feel both in the décor as well as in Chef Marco Ambrosino’s seasonal menu which has included dishes such as barley, broccoli, black truffle and Provolone del Monaco; ravioli with parmesan and licorice, pumpkin broth and chestnuts; and baccala’ with Jerusalem artichokes, vanilla and macadamia nuts. 28 Posti’s omnivorous, yet vegetable-centric cuisine, has plenty of options for vegetarian and vegan diners.
Via Corsica, 1; +39 02 839 2377
Tuesday – Sunday: 7.30pm to 11.30pm; Tuesday – Saturday: 12pm to 2.30pm
Sunday Brunch: 11.30am to 4pm
REBELOT DEL PONT
It was a sad day in Milan when chef Mauricio Zillo plated his last dish at Rebelot last year and left for Paris, however chef Matteo Monti who worked with Mauricio since Rebelot’s 2013 opening, is holding down the fort quite nicely. Drop in pre-dinner for a classic mixed drink or a specialty cocktail created by master mixologist Oscar Quagliarini. Have a small plate as you sip or make a meal out of it, by feasting on a few of the elegant, seasonal preparations. Rebelot’s ever-changing menu doesn’t follow traditional menu format in that it isn’t broken up by course; it’s just a selection of small plates or “tapas,” for lack of a better word, while the wine list boasts a selection from small winemakers, including many lesser-known indigenous Italian grapes.
Ripa Porta Ticinese, 55; + 39 02 84194720
Monday, Wednesday – Saturday: 6pm to 2am; Kitchen is open until 1amSunday: Noon to Midnight
The subject of our first and only 3-View! While the service could use a little polishing we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the fish and the vibrant flavors at this Brazilian-inspired sushi restaurant. Enjoy a multitude of options for maki rolls or temaki (handrolls) including salmon ceviche, branzino, spicy tuna and scallop. Believe it or not, the Mexican roll is quite tasty, protruding tortilla chip and all. Couple your sushi with a libation from the caipirinha selection. Do note that it’s very loud so we wouldn’t recommend it for a first date.
Ripa di Porta Ticinese, 37; +39 02 8356134
Monday – Sunday: 12pm to 3pm; 7pm to 12am