You’ve probably heard about the street food scenes in Rome and Venice, but let me tell you, the northern Italian city of Milan has the power to rival both of them.
Some of my favorite bites hail from the cosmopolitan metropolis, like panettone, a sweet fruitcake bread, and fresh seafood sandwiches that could turn anyone into a pescatarian.
After over a dozen trips to this fantastic culinary destination, I’ve tried the finest plates from the curbside cuisine there, from michetta to panino with cotoletta alla milanese. Read through this post and find out about my picks for the best street food in Milan.
The perfect savory street eat in my eyes is mondeghili. These little meatballs are so basic; all they’re made with is leftover ground beef, eggs, and bread, but wow, they’re phenomenal.
While I’ve seen mondeghili made with various meat such as veal and pork, beef is huge amongst the Milanese, so they’d see it as an insult to cook them with anything else.
Mondeghili has a strong umami taste because of the beef, but I prefer it when the chef adds some garlic into the mix; it gives the meat a pungent kick. I’ve also tried versions with cheese added to them, and they were delicious; it gives it a creamy element and makes the beef extra soft.
Where To Eat It?
If there’s one place you try mondeghili, make sure it’s Trattoria La Pesa dal 1902! Between the homey atmosphere and the friendly staff, it’s such a nice spot to get some antipasti if you’re in a rush.
The mondeghili I ordered here tasted delightful, from the spicy, peppery seasoning to the slight eggy notes from the batter.
Trattoria La Pesa dal 1902 (€€) – Via Giovanni Fantoni, 26, 20148 Milano MI, Italy – Monday to Wednesday, 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm to 12:00 am, closed Thursday to Sunday
Celebrated as Milan’s famous bread, I could never say no to a piece of Michetta. Shaped like a rose puff roll, you’ll see michetta sold at stalls and bakeries all over the city. The inside of the bread is often left empty; I always use this bit to wedge in my favorite fillings for some added flavor.
Michetta doesn’t have an overly strong flavor of anything. It had a light, yeasty taste with a tinge of sweetness and saltiness but nothing too overwhelming.
I think the fillings you choose to have on the inside are what really make up the flavor profile; it’s similar to a standard sandwich. The texture is quite chewy but soft at the same time; it’s almost fluffy like cotton candy.
Where To Eat It?
It’s not hard to find good michetta in Milan, but La Michetta di Diego’S Panificio tops anywhere else. I couldn’t get enough of this quintessential Milanese bakery; they have a lovely outdoor seating area to relax in after you grab your snacks.
I initially ordered one of their mini pizza-filled michettas and ended up having two more; they were that good. The way the cheese dripped into the tomato sauce and accompanied the hearty outer layer of the crust was so yummy. Even writing about it now makes me want more!
La Michetta di Diego’S Panificio (€) – Via Lomellina, 25, 20134 Milano MI, Italy – Monday to Friday, 7:00 am to 7:30 pm, Saturday, 7:00 am to 7:00 pm and Sunday, 8:00 am to 1:00 pm
Panino With Cotoletta Alla Milanese
Another sandwich-style snack that deserves a mention on my Milan street foods list is panino with cotoletta alla milanese.
If you’ve traveled anywhere in Italy, you’ll know paninis are a big thing, but one version that’s specific to Milan is the panino with cotoletta alla milanese. It’s a panino with a tender veal cutlet covered delicately with fresh breadcrumbs and stuffed with wild garden veggies.
I’m a big fan of how tender the veal is served; it’s usually pressed down before it’s cooked, making it extra juicy when it’s ready. It often has a buttery flavor with a crisp taste and a zesty flare because of the lemon that the chef drizzles on the top.
Where To Eat It?
Pizzeria Grazie Italia close to the Piazzale Vincenzo Cuoco is a brilliant place to get your hands on a panino with cotoletta alla Milanese. It’s an old-school, hole-in-the-wall pizza joint, but they do sell the traditional delicacy.
I noticed they sold it as I walked past last year on my vacation, so I ordered some. It came with a green salad, some fries, and mayonnaise. The sauce gave the nuttiness of the batter a mild tanginess, and the salad added an extra layer of crunch, which I enjoyed.
Pizzeria Grazie Italia (€) – Via Emilio Faà di Bruno, 14, 20137 Milano MI, Italy – Monday, 11:00 am to 12:00 am, Tuesday to Sunday, 11:00 am to 12:30 am
A must-try if you want to satisfy your sweet tooth is Barbajada, a hot beverage mixed with coffee, whipped chocolate, and fresh milk. The bit I love the most is the sugar and dollop of cream put on top as if the chocolate wasn’t enough sugar for me.
Now, I only order these after a light meal because they really are filling. Besides being very sweet, they’re pretty milky, which makes them quite heavy. I think the arabica-tasting undertones give it a unique balance, and if you add vanilla, it gives it floral notes.
Where To Drink It?
Make it your mission to try your first Barbajada at Torrefazione Moka Hodeidah. This local cafe is amazing; they serve so many delicious sweet snacks and even let you sample drinks before you buy them.
Their barbajada is exceptional; it’s heavy on chocolate, but you get a solid espresso mixed in, which complements the sweetness quite well. It’s served warm, but I asked them to make mine extra hot so the chocolate would melt fully with the cream. Be sure to do the same.
Torrefazione Moka Hodeidah (€€) – Via Piero della Francesca, 8, 20154 Milano MI, Italy – Monday to Friday, 7:00 am to 7:30 pm, Saturday, 8:00 am to 7:30 pm, and closed on Sunday
During your time in Milan, don’t miss out on the chance to try farinata, a famous street food that looks like a pancake. However, the ingredients are quite different as it’s made with chickpea flour, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and caramelized onions.
Unlike pancakes, farinata is baked in the oven in a tray. It’s left to heat for between 20 and 30 minutes; it looks golden after it’s cooked. Farinata has a strong nutty flavor because of the chickpea flour, but it’s also quiet due to the caramelized onions in the mix.
Numerous stories have spread about farinata’s origins. One of the most intriguing is the suggestion that it came from Roman troops who took over Genova. It’s said that they used to bake it on their defence shields in the sun because it was a cheap way to feed themselves.
Where To Eat It?
My go-to for some farinata is Monterosso, a local spot outside the Porta Genova Station. Monterosso has always been on my radar ever since I heard they cooked all of the farinata in tinned copper.
I got to visit recently and was blown away by the farinata. It was chopped into dozens of little squares, crispy around the edges, and had a strong umami flavor with some earthy notes from the rosemary. The woman working at the counter gave me a little fork for picking.
Monterosso (€) – Via Vigevano, 45, 20144 Milano MI, Italy – Monday to Saturday, 11:00 am to 12:00 am, and Sunday, 12:00 pm to 11:00 am
You can get pizza just about anywhere in Italy, but portafoglio is one type commonly found in Milan that every first-time visitor has to try.
Portafoglio is a pizza folded twice to make it easy to bite while on the go. It’s smaller than a standard pizza and served in baking paper. It’s often called a “wallet-style pizza” and shares most of the same ingredients as a margherita, like tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and some olive oil on top.
It’s popular in Milan due to the city’s huge Neapolitan population. While portafoglio is a modern twist on a classic pizza, there’s evidence that it has been served since 1738 in one of Naples’s first pizzerias, Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba.
Where To Eat It?
You’ll love Crosta’s take on portafoglio; it recently opened in 2018 in the bustling Porta Venezia. Their main specialties are pizza and bread; I had visited a couple of times to pick up some bread in the mornings and thought I’d try their portafoglio; it was exactly what I hoped for.
My takeaway order came on a piece of parchment paper; the dough was thin and had some garlicky notes, and the melted mozzarella mixed in with the tomato sauce added a creamy tanginess to each bite and enhanced the flavor profile.
Crosta (€) – Via Felice Bellotti, 13, 20129 Milano MI, Italy – Monday to Saturday, 8:00 am to 11:00 pm, and Sunday, 9:00 am to 11:00 pm
Chinese dumplings may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of street food in Milan, but they’re loved so much by the Milanese.
The ingredients are exactly like they make them in China, with wheat and flour to make up the dough and then a filling of your choice, usually between beef, pork, or a vegetarian option with cabbage or mushrooms, but it depends on the vendor you go to.
Where To Eat It?
I’ll warn you in advance: there’s only one spot you should go to for Dumplings in Milan, and that’s Ravioleria Sarpi. This small shop has been serving these Chinese specialties since 2015, and they’ve fast become arguably the most popular spot in Milan for cuisine from the Far East.
I always go to Ravioleria Sarpi when I’m looking to go international for dinner. I loved seeing the chefs with the little white hats cook the dumplings right in front of me through the glass window; it gave me a great insight into what it’s like to be a cook.
The dumplings have been phenomenal every time I’ve had them, especially the pork option. They came in a white paper bowl in a bundle of five. The rich juiciness from the pork mixed with the saltiness from the soy sauce was a fabulous blend of flavors and made every bite extra juicy.
Ravioleria Sarpi (€) – Via Paolo Sarpi, 27, 20154 Milano MI, Italy – Every day, 10:30 am to 3:00 pm, and 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm
You know all the best Milan street food now to add to your foodie wish list.
Dive deeper into the city’s gastronomic scene on one of our Milan food tours, try the tastiest snacks, and discover some culinary highlights with one of our expert guides.