Milan is known for being many things but not for being affordable. After all, the city is filled with countless super chic places to eat, some of which are really good, others not so much…
Which is why I thought, why not do a list of really good places to eat around Milano where you can leave feeling full with less than 10 euros. And in many of the budget friendly places I’ve listed below you can eat (and sometimes drink) with just 5 euro.
Giannasi (Porta Romana)
This stand is a street food institution here in Milan. Dating back to 1967, the stand was started by a brother and sister duo, Dorando and Graziella, who migrated to Milan from a small village in Emilia-Romagna. The chiosco serves their signature finger licking good roast chicken that is salty (two steps away from being too salty), herby and moist on the inside with a crispy crackly skin on the outside. Made all the better by the fact that half a chicken costs just 2.25€. You can get a number of other cooked chicken and beef products as well as lasagnas, fried croquettes, roasted veggies etc. One of the other things that I love about Giannasi is that it’s so trasversal from the old Milanese “scuira” to a recent Ecuadorian immigrant.
Al Pizzetta (Cinque Giornate)
MIlan is not known for its pizza by the slice or for its grab and go pizza joints. Which is probably why the guys from Al Pizzetta decided to open its doors, to fill a void in the Milanese market. Plus the owners came up with an ingenious way to ensure that their pizzas are always piping hot, while also offering the right amount of variety for their customers. The guy in the back makes the dough all day long, and forms them into mono portion pan sized pizza molds. Toppings are added to order. My favorite is salsiccia e friarelli (2.50€). Astetically speaking the space is small and narrow, lined with bar stools and a pretty red brick wall. It's also a great place to grab a bite before heading to the movies across the street.
C'era una volta una piada (several locations around Milan)
Here in Italy the talk is always about quality. You almost never hear anyone talking about something being the BIGGEST anything. Somehow the owners of "C'era una Volta una piada" forgot this and made these massive piadina that also happen to be d*** good. And to make the place all the more irresistible the average price tag for one of their almost too big to finish wraps is 5€. So it's absolutely in the normal piadina price range despite being about 50% bigger than what the other guys serve. Needless to say the place is almost always PACKED, especially at lunch time. For those of you who don't know, almost all of Italy goes to lunch at 1pm. So if you want eat your piadina in relative calm without having to elbow your way through a sea of hungry people, come a half an hour before or after than time frame. Side note: the decor of this place is a little quirky. It's sort of run-down french Provincial meets young handsome Italian men making you food in girly type peasant clothes. It's kind of a hot mess, but in a good way.
Corey’s Soul Chicken (Chinatown)
I love, love, love Italian food. But sometimes me and my American girls want a little something to remind us of the USA. And when that craving hits we go to Corey’s Soul Chicken. Corey is originally from Kentucky and he moved to Italy a gazillion and one years ago (even before I got here so like eons ago - lol). Corey makes one mean fried chicken from scratch marinating the meat before frying it in small batches so you know it’s always fresh. One freshly fried chicken thigh will run you 2.50€ or you can get a combo menu of 5 pieces chicken fingers with one side dish for 8€.
Luini specializes in Panzerotti, basically a pocket sized fried pizza from Puglia. Since the shop is located less than 5 minutes from Duomo, it’s a stomping ground for locals and tourists alike, so expect a line. And when I say a line I mean it, A LINE, to the extent that they have security guard standing outside that’s only job is direct the people cueing to get it, especially around lunch from 12:30pm – 2:00pm. That being said, this is still a controversial suggestion. There are those who say the quality has diminished through the years. Others dislike the fact that they no longer offer just the traditional panzerotti, but now a selection of “new offers” like baked ‘panzerotti’, stuffed with various fillings. But hey, when I go I always get the traditional fried panzerotti simply stuffed with mozzarella and tomatoes, which only costs 2.50€.
Anatolia is generally considered the best kebab restaurant in Milan. The brothers who run the place make many of the key ingredients from scratch like the kebab meat (instead of the usual undefined meat patties that most places use), the flat bread, as well as their pizza dough (though I’m not sure why you would go there for pizza). They also sell a number of home cooked dishes like falafel and stewed chicken with vegetables. The locale is pretty anonymous in its décor, with 90’s looking blue and white tiles, that the brothers always ensure are sparkling clean. I think that’s part of the charm. It’s really the neighborhood restaurant, where they will wave at the locals that walk by regardless of whether or not they are stopping in to get something to eat on that particular day.
La Ravioleria Sarpi (Chinatown)
La Ravioleria is located on via Paolo Sarpi, the main Street of Milan’s Chinatown. Up until recently this street was the cause of much friction, since it used to have cars and vans at all times of the day and night loading and unloading goods for the street’s many international stores. The city changed all that making it an exclusively pedestrian street. That signaled a big changed for via Sarpi which is now an invigorating hodgepodge of stores and shops. La Ravioleria Sarpi caters to the new hip and cool Chinatown demographic offering traditional Chinese wontons made with local organic ingredients. Four organic wontons made with your choice of beef or pork filling will cost you 2.50€. Since La Ravioleria Sarpi has no sit in eating space, you can enjoy your treat while exploring the neighborhood.
Trapizzino (several locations around Italy)
The people at Trapizzino like to emphasize the fact that they don’t just make any type sandwiches, but Roman street food sandwiches. Starting with the bun which is somewhere between a focaccia and pizza: airy, oil and soft. That in itself makes this concept yummy, but then they elevate it to another level with the fillings. The fillings are firmly rooted in Roman/Italian street food culinary traditions: think anything from pollo alla cacciatore, slow stewed octopus, eggplant parmesan and beef tongue cooked in a green sauce. All of which costs the very affordable price of 4 euro.
These yummy pockets of goodness have been my go to breastfeeding induced midday ‘snack’. They make me happy. They also have a pretty good selection of wine at affordable prices, that breastfeeding mommy didn’t drink (lol).
I should mention that Trapizzino is a chain with locations in Rome, Milan, Turin and even New York. I obviously haven’t been to all of their locations, but from the ones I’ve tried their expansion has not tarnished the quality of the sandwiches nor the service they deliver.
Every time I see this sandwich Luther Ingram’s song “if loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right” plays in my head. I’m pretty sure that’s because my favorite bomba sandwich is their #5. Number five is a fatty slow cooked piece of pork check coated with layer of mustard and a single piece of lettuce which I swear is there only to poke fun of you (7.00€). To make matters worse the filling is placed into a bun made from a perfectly fried slighly sweet dough. It really is so very wrong, but so very good.
They have other sandwiches stuffed with healthier things like sautéed escarole with raisins, pine nuts, confit tomatoes, and anchovies (5.50€) or with less healthy sweet things like their take on tiramisu (4.00€). I should also add that Bomba is the brain child of Niko Romito, the 3 Michelin starred Italian chef from Abruzzo.
Photo credits: The pictures that aren’t obviously mine were taken from the facebook page of the respective restaurants.