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From the neighbourhood for nightlife in the 90s to today’s tourist area, the Brera District still holds some gems loved by the Milanese. Sushi, pizza, southern Italian cuisine and the chef’s bistro: Brera is the right place to dine if you know where to go.
All tourist guides say that Brera is one of Milan’s nightlife districts, with boutiques and bars where you can stop for an aperitif. However, it’s not exactly like that anymore, or at least, the nightlife in Brera stopped in the late 90s and it is now full of tourist traps. It’s a shame, because the charm of its cobblestone streets, pedestrian pathways, lavish palaces and the houses of old Milan are still there. The good news is that some interesting addresses can still be found.
Here’s what to do and where to go before or after a visit to the Pinacoteca di Brera and botanical gardens.
In the heart of Brera is just one of the Pandenus bakeries in the city, but the menu here is entirely curated by chef Enrico Bartolini (two Michelin stars at MUDEC, Milan). Get breakfast, brunch, cocktails and exotic dishes. Don’t miss the “house specialty” gourmet pizzas like the “Brera” with plum tomato carpaccio, Buffalo mozzarella and fresh oregano or “Madonnina”, roasted artichokes, mint pesto and almond focaccia. On the first floor, The Locanda Pandenus features four suites, all different from one another, but with a common thread, namely to recreate a cosy, home-like atmosphere while enjoying a grand hotel service (such as the selection of Japanese whiskies available in the room).
Trendy, beautiful, and serving high-quality sushi in an elegant setting. In the outdoor area and surrounded by a vertical forest is the bar, where you can sit for an aperitif during the summer accompanied by chef Niimori Nobuya’s creations. The drink menu is divided between eastern and western inspired cocktails for those who want to focus on classics or venture into the mixing of sake and Japanese liquor. Downstairs, there’s a lounge where a few lucky guests can experience a real omakase, a traditional tasting menu served by kimono uniformed staff.
Piazza Santa Maria del Carmine is mostly known for the beautiful Marc Jacobs store rather than the Church. The coolest thing to observe is the sculpture which everyone calls “Petto a metà” (the actual title is Grande Toscano) by Polish artist Igor Mitoraj, created in 1986.
Petrus 1935 Urban Restaurant and Raw Bar is a restaurant specializing in seafood and raw vegetables. Here, you can order sumptuous platters as you would in France, choosing from their special oyster menu. In the summer, a 7-course oyster tasting menu is available, to perhaps enjoy with a classic Pimm’s, the historic British long drink born as an accompaniment to oysters at the Pimm’s Oyster Bar near Billingsgate, in London. Expect a well-stocked bar, an excellent wine list and Mediterranean cuisine for dinner.
The new opening by Chef Giancarlo Perbellini (two Michelin stars in Verona). His Locanda Perbellini is a bistro offering Italian cuisine, cooked to perfection at reasonable prices, accompanied by a carefully selected wine list. A delicious menu with aubergine parmigiana paired with fresh Buffalo mozzarella and tomato confit, carbonara, clam spaghetti, and chicken with roast potatoes (a boneless leg with crispy skin served with a rosemary potato mousse). Don’t miss the Millefoglie Perbellini as a dessert.
Slow Sud is the right place to sample some traditional southern Italian dishes, mainly from Sicily or Apulia, made with high quality ingredients. At 6:30pm, cocktail hour begins with southern style tapas and snacks inspired by Sicilian cuisine. It goes well with themed cocktails such as the citrus Pestato or Basil Moijto, wines and craft beers.
A great, contemporary pizzeria where you can choose from a selection of doughs: classic, spelt, gluten-free, rice and buckwheat, including the special mixture of the week, every weekend. At Bioesserì, you can customize your pizza as desired and everyone is welcome. To try something different, go for the spelt dough calzone with vegetables.