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Erba Brusca, Conca Fallata 

Set on a bucolic canal on the outskirts of the city (read: a decent taxi ride), Erba Brusca is run by French-US chef Alice Delcourt, whose previous positions include a stint at The River Café in London. A mainstay of the menu is the pasta with clams, truffles and wild erba brusca (sorrel). As with many of the ingredients that end up in Delcourt’s colourful dishes, the sorrel is plucked directly from the adjoining garden: come in the warmer months when the tables spill out onto the patio. Delcourt’s partner – sommelier and maître d’ Danilo Ingannamorte – will help you to navigate the natural wine list.

286 Alzaia Naviglio Pavese, 20142
+39 02 8738 0711
erbabrusca.it
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Dry, Porta Garibaldi 

This smart restaurant, co-owned by chef Andrea Berton, kick-started the city’s gourmet pizza movement when it opened in 2013. Simone Lombardi’s offering, whipped out of the Neapolitan brick-fired oven, is arguably still the best in the city. You can’t go wrong with the pizze classiche but the bite-sized focaccia laced with vitello tonnato (a heady veal-and-tuna combo) is textbook. Be sure to leave room for a cocktail: we recommend the French 75. Dry is only open in the evening; for lunch head to its newer sister venue, Dry 2, near Porta Venezia.

33 Via Solferino, 20121 
+39 02 6379 3414 
drymilano.it
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Pastamadre, Porta Romana

Chef Francesco Costanzo’s cooking focuses on his native Sicily’s renowned flavours, from tuna and octopus to pork and wild fennel. But don’t go expecting a run-of-the-mill “regional” restaurant; Sicily serves more as underlying inspiration – an excuse to dish up tangled heaps of freshly made pasta, plenty of fish and desserts such as cassatina (a creamy ricotta cake wrapped in green marzipan). These are dishes with a story and Costanzo will happily play the raconteur. Ask to hear the one about the cannoli moulds on the ceiling.

8 Via Bernardino Corio, 20135 
+39 02 5519 0020
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Fioraio Bianchi Caffè, Porta Nuova

As the name suggests, this is first and foremost a flower shop but owner Raimondo Bianchi was inspired by the classic Parisian bistro. He opened the cosy venue on an elegant corner between San Fermo and Montebello in the 1970s and the Milanesi bene (the city’s “old money”) have long since adopted it as one of their own. The café serves uncomplicated dishes for lunch and dinner but we prefer the mood in the morning: order a cappuccino then kick back and enjoy the unparalleled people-watching. 

7 Via Montebello, 20121 
+39 02 2901 4390 
fioraiobianchicaffe.it 
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Pasticceria Sissi, Risorgimento 

The moniker Sissi is more than just a tribute to the legendary Austrian empress whose portrait adorns the sign above the door here – it’s the name of the lady who opened this pint-sized pasticceria in the early 1990s with her Senegalese husband. You’ll find all the classics from cream puffs to fruit tarts, although the real treat is being able to sit in the back, under the pergola, and eating one of the house brioches, which are freshly made on-site every day. The sweet ones are filled to order with custard or chocolate cream, whereas the savoury ones are stuffed with prosciutto. 

6 Piazza Risorgimento, 20129 
+39 02 7601 4664 

Images: Luigi Fiano

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