Latteria di San Marco

Best restaurants in Milan’s Brera

Serpentine stone streets and quintessential Milanese charm characterize the alluring Brera neighborhood close to Sforza Castle. Historically, artists and intellectuals flocked to its many cafes to smoke, eat, converse, sketch, write and do their typical “artist café” thing. Here’s a look at some of the best restaurants in Milan’s Brera and you can also check out our picks for the nearby Corso Garibaldi.

The neighborhood is easily reachable from the historic center. At Teatro La Scala, walk down Via Giuseppe Verdi until you hit Via dell’Orso, and you’re there. Turn down any of the side streets on your right and you’ll soon see artisan shops, cafes, design stores and more! The area’s main attraction is the Pinacoteca di Brera art museum. While art snobs might argue that the collection doesn’t boast the grandeur of, say, the Uffizi or the Vatican, Pinacoteca di Brera holds its own with work from Caravaggio, Raphael and Piero della Francesca, among others, and if you’re in the neighborhood or visiting the nearby Sforza Castle, here are five of the best restaurants in Milan’s Brera, or it’s immediate surroundings.

Latteria di San Marco

Latteria di San Marco--Restaurant Milan--BreraArrive by the 7.30pm opening time to get one of the six tables, otherwise be prepared to wait as Latteria doesn’t take any reservations. But trust us, it’s worth it! Chef Arturo Maggi and his wife Maria run this adorable restaurant in a historic former latteria, or dairy. The menu changes daily; Arthur does the cooking while Maria handles he dining room in a no nonsense manner. If you can’t make it for dinner, drop in for lunch.

Via S. Marco, 24
+39 02 659 7653

Monday-Friday: 12.30pm-2.30pm;
Closed Saturday and Sunday
No website



Larte--Restaurant Milan--BreraSituated in the Brera outskirts just a few steps away from Teatro La Scala on Via Manzoni, Larte is a multi-function venue with something for everyone. Take a café and pastry for breakfast in the front café, or drop in for a spremuta during the afternoon. Enjoy lunch or dinner in the restaurant, which offers salads, pastas, meats, fish and sandwiches. The excellent wine list features an ample selection of Southern Italian bottles.

Via Manzoni 5; +39 02 890 96 950
Monday – Saturday: 12:30pm – 14:30; 7:30pm – 11pm
Bar opens at 8am



Ristorante Emilia e Carlo--Restaurant Milan--Brera
If you’re looking for more of a formal meal, then reserve a table at Ristorante Emilia e Carlo. The rotating menu features precious dishes such as Tuscan ham with figs, spaghetti with clams & bottarga and Chianina beef mille-feuille while the wine list showcases mostly Italian bottles rounded out by some French and a handful of New World options.

Via Giuseppe Sacchi 8; +39 02 862100
Dinner Monday – Saturday

Lunch: Monday – Friday



Fioraio Bianchi Caffe--Restaurant Milan--BreraThis 40 year-old locale boasts French-style ambiance, offering an experience unlike any other in Milan: flower shop meets café. The beautiful floral collection, displayed as thoughtfully as one would curate a museum exhibit, is also for sale. Open for lunch and dinner, the seasonal menu has included items such as red tuna roe with buffalo ricotta and asparagus, Iberico ham with Manchego D.O.P. pecorino, and veal sirloin with potatoes and herbes de Provence.

Via Montebello 7; +39 02 2901 4390
Monday to Saturday: 8am to 12am
Monday to Saturday: 12pm – 3pm and 8pm to 12am
Closed Sundays, but open for brunch only on the last Sunday of every month



Refettorio--Restaurant Milan--BreraAlthough not vegetarian, legumes and vegetables take the lead on this delightful restaurant’s menu, which specializes in organic and biodynamic ingredients. The menu of simple, flavorful food changes daily while to drink, you may choose from a considerable selection of all natural wines.

Via dell’Orso 2; +39.02 890.966.64
Monday – Friday: 12pm to 3pm; 7:30pm to 11pm
Saturday: 12pm – 3pm; 7:30pm to 11:30pm
Sunday: 12:30 to 2:30



Daniel--Restaurant Milan--Brera
Young 30-something chef Daniel Canzian, a Gualtiero Marchesi alum, serves exciting, flavorful contemporary Italian fare. The chef’s table at the open kitchen is the best seat in the house. Dinner averages around 60 euro per person for food, so this is something definitely on the more upscale side but there is a lighter menu available at lunch.

Via San Marco angolo Castelfidardo; +39 02 6379 3837
Monday-Friday: 12pm-3pm; 6pm-12amt
Saturday: 6pm-12am
Closed Sunday


A Perfect Plate: Testaroli al Pesto Genovese

I think it’s safe to say that my favorite Italian pasta preparation of all time is pesto genovese, and if you know me well, you’ll agree. I find the aroma of basic, garlic, pignoli, olive oil, parmesan and pecorino irresistible…and it’s even better on the palate, with green forkful after green forkful elevating my insatiable pesto appetite. I love making pesto sauce but to be honest, for something so simple, it’s quite quite difficult to get just right. It’s either hit or miss and those days when it’s hit, I never manage to fully grasp what exactly I did correctly so that I may follow suit next time. Anyhoo, I digress.

I ordered chef Arturo Maggi’s pesto alla genovese at Latteria di San Marco restaurant in Milan recently and not only did the perfectly pesto-y green sauce wow me, (I know from experience that a pesto so verdant isn’t always easy), it was served over a bed of testaroli instead of trofie.

I am loathe to admit that I had never had the pleasure of tasting testaroli before and now, I’m determined to make up for lost time.  This ancient preparation is believed to date back to Roman times though it does have roots in Lunigiana, a historical territory that falls in what today are the provinces of La Spezia and Massa Carrara.

Now, testaroli, typical of Liguria, isn’t so much a pasta as it is more of a pancake, made from water, flour and salt. The batter is cooked on wood until the pancake grows a few millimeters thick, inside a special container called a “testo” that historically was made of terra cotta though now usually cast iron.

The beauty of the Testaroli al Pesto Genovese at Latteria di San Marco restaurant in Milan was how each piece was soft, yet sturdy. After mixing the sauce so that deep green color in the center dispersed around the plate, into a lighter hue as it thinned out while covering all the testaroli, which quite impressively never absorbed the sauce to the point of sogginess….no small feat given their fluffy pancake-like texture. I inhaled the distinct pesto aroma and then dug in, the sauce was perfectly balanced–never did one flavor overshadow another– complementing ribbon-like testaroli beautifully. It was just so simple and satisfying and flawless. Honestly, I wanted a second helping but I restrained myself.

Now the menu at Latteria di San Marco restaurant in Milan changes daily, so here’s to hoping I’m lucky enough to nosh on Arturo Maggi’s testaroli al pesto Genovese a second time!

La Latteria di San Marco; Via S. Marco, 24; +39 02 659 7653; no website; cash only.

Text & Photo: Jackie DeGiorgio