Anne and me starting out right…with vino rosso!

When I was recently in Milan for two weeks in early April, I was visiting friends and attending an Italian wedding. This put me right in the middle of numerous evenings enjoying delicious dinners with Italians who have been locals of Milan now for several years, if not more. Thanks to their hospitality and enthusiasm for Milano-life, I experienced some amazingly delicious food at great restaurants and I found, it was not always the typical Italian food that I think most Americans picture it to be. Here’s what I mean…

The first restaurant I went to my first day in Milan was also my first Italian food experience for my first time visiting Italy (yes, it took me this long to finally visit Italy, but I made it in time for my 30th birthday so that makes up for previously lost time). My host Filippo was guiding me and my friend Anne around Milan for the day and when we realized we were in need for a late lunch, he did what I love best about traveling with locals: he called up a friend who owns an Italian-style restaurant and asked if they could have an authentic Milano lunch ready for us. I was pretty excited to say the least because this meant dishes specific to Milan and that it was not going to be geared for tourist.

We arrived at the Restaurant Giannino L’angolo D’abruzzo to red and white checkered tablecloths and shelves of wine along the bright yellow walls. A porcelain craft of vino rosso (red wine) was already on the table along with plates of grilled bread brushed with olive oil and garlic. And of course the bottle of olive oil, salt and pepper, made the table complete for the appetizers of Italian meatballs that we hungrily dove into. If you’re expecting to read that heaping plates of pasta came next, then prepared to be disappointed because this Italian meal did not consist of any pasta.

Instead, we feasted on the local dish of roast lamb that was delicious, complimented by sautéed kale and roasted potatoes. Once we could eat no more, we sat back with an espresso and then an Amaro (the traditional after-dinner liquor that helps with digestion). Sipping on these two lovely drinks with a couple of sweet “biscotti” (cookies) was just the right ending to this Milanese birthday lunch.

I loved how this meal was true to the area of Italy that I was in and that it gave me a first-hand taste of what the culture and people are like in Milan.

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