Sunday, April 8, 2012

Milan Restaurants: Cracco, Bagutta, Gallura, Bar Della Crocetta, Montecristo, Brellin, Ma.Ri.Na (Olgiate Olona Varese, Between Milan and Airport).


Cracco, perhaps one of the finest restaurants in Italy has been awarded 2* Michelin. Follow  below as the course of the meal unfolds.

House made bread and bread stick, all perfectly executed. I enjoyed the thin, crunchy crust for the bread and terrific toasted flavour of the bread stick. The bread stick is so addictive in it's taste and texture, one must be careful not to fill up before one begins.

A large variety of multi-coloured, dehydrated and crispy mixed vegetable crisps sliced very thin, beet, carrot, parsnip and potato. Like Terra brand chips, but better!

Lardo di colonna on orange sponge; salmon roe on green spinach flavoured sponge; a thin piece of tender, juicy cooked veal on white sponge.

Caramelized Russian "salad" with mayonnaise, carrot, potato and tuna. Instructed to pick it up like a cookie, if not careful when one bights the "cookie", the crumbled chunks may fall in one's lap or plate. Biting into the cookie is like biting into a sugar coated envelope that holds a potato mayonnaise salad inside. The best way to eat this is in 2 or 3 bights.

Perfect cold Mussels on edible “shells”. The shell was made of sepia and flour. Wonderful. 

Oysters with green pea foam.

Marinated egg yolk (the round dark orange item on the plate), cavalo nero sponge topped with sesame seed, yogurt with a slight bit of horse radish bight, ribbons of white radish, a small dab of grainy mustard and a small dab of rich intense honey. An interesting experience.

Spaghetti ricci di mare e caffe. Sea urchin and coffee make a strangely satisfying combination of flavours. The coffee flavour mitigates some of the urchin's flavour but gives the whole dish a new dimension. I usually don't have coffee after 2pm after I turned 50. Hope I sleep tonight!

Silken, unctuous musetto di maiale fondente con scampi e pomodori verdi (what the chef calls bittersweet pork with Scampi) and polenta crisp. Eating this dish gives one pause. The briny sea flavour of the perfectly cooked scampi is the perfect complement for the rich flavours of the pig cheek. This is a great dish.

Petto di piccione alla spiedo con "verzino" e mostarda di verdure. Perfectly rare, crispy skinned pigeon, cooked on the grill, with cabbage stuffed with its liver and served with mustard fruits. The mustard fruits lack the punch needed to set off this dish. A more pungent mustard oil would have helped.

Crispy dried sliced fruits with

Morbido of chocolate. (Melted) with walnuts, toasted hazelnut biscuit, hazelut ice cream and a hazelnut creme anglais made mango "fisherman". Advised that I must break through the gelatin ice. (regrettably, no photo. I became so excited when I saw this dessert, I just ate it!). 

Almonds coated in white and dark chocolate.


A rice crispy like cracker and coffee.... "contact lenses" (!!!!).

 The crispy cracker.

Removing the contact lens case from the packaging.

The "contact lens" made of coffee. I could not believe that not only was this item presented to ME, but also,  I was asked to use my finger, like removing a contact lens from a case, and to EAT the contact lens (and here I have a history of ALWAYS advising my patients to NEVER ever put a contact lens in the mouth!!).


Baguta is a traditional milanese resto, open since 1927, with wall murals, paintings, drawings, cartoons and collages plastered floor to ceiling, made by artistic patrons. Patrons from old families who have come for generations, long time visiters to Milan and new tourists fill the resto as well

Piatto d'antipasti misti selected from a huge array. Nothing exceptional, mostly traditional mama-like preparations like roast peppers, mushrooms in oil, mushrooms stuffed with a
cheese bread filling, cold roasted cippolini onions, sauteed peppers and zucchini, steamed shrimps in oil, nervetti (beef tendon), and thin slices of head cheese. 

Agnolotti stuffed with chopped black truffles and ricotta cheese, showered with shredded black truffles (al tartufi nero). The dish arrival at table was redolent with the heady aroma of black truffles. The pasta was very good, with a bight, and of a thickness that does not overwhelm the filling and was dressed with butter.

A slow cooked Stinco di vitello (veal knuckle) al forno, with potatoes roasted soft, with a caramelized skin, cooked in the style that this resto has done for their patrons for over 90 years. The wonderfully juicy, tender veal meat was an easy pleasure.

Almond cake, light, with an almond (marzipan) icing.

Fragola di bosco, what the French refer to as frais des bois, what I have looked forward to, on every trip, since my first trip to Europe to eat, over 40 years ago! I inhale the dark berry like fragrance as I put the first spoonful in my mouth. There is nothing in fruitland like this experience for me. This was one of my first “mouth openers” in Europe, many years ago, that revealed the extraordinary taste of products of European terroir.

Bar Della Crocetta

This is a small resto with a list of 200 (yes, this is no typo!!) sandwiches, and worth a small detour for lunch.

Spazzino: porchetta, arugula, onion.

Polifemo: tongue, green sauce, tomato.

Villa Necchi

Just had to have an espresso and a piece of pistachio marzipan cake at the cafe located at the beautiful, very modern, early 20th century Villa Necchi (NOT TO BE MISSED!!).

Gallura is another go-to Milan resto, an ostensibly Sicilian resto, known for their fresh seafood and pasta.

Tuna tartar.

Raw prawns.

Sea urchins.

Clams with croutons, garlic and white wine.

Spaghetti with clams and bottarga.

 Grilled eggplant and zucchini.

Skip dessert!

This is another Milanese resto where the fish and shellfish are exceptionally fresh.....still squirming on the display ice! The difference between this resto and Ma.Ri.Na. (read further down) is that although both have exquisitely fresh seafood, the range of creativity at Ma.Ri.Na differentiates the two. Both are very much worth visiting, each for a completely different experience.

The fish and shell fish displays.

To begin, a complementary, welcoming drink of prosecco, campari and fresh orange juice, with a toothpick of small chunks of kiwi fruit and apple.

Fish soup, a complementary app.

Bread, wonderfully crisp from the oven.

Regaled by the waiter regarding their exceptionally fresh, raw fish, what choice did I have....almost everything I could manage. To begin, prawns, shrimp, storioni and certofolo fish, with a touch of olive oil. The prawns, presented intact, with just the shells removed from their torsos, were so fresh that when I cut the body away from the shrimp head, the claws waved around...that fresh!!

Grilled scallops with capers butter and parsley, underwhelming. No roe. This dish was the only disappointment. The scallops were not fresh enough, lacked the inherent sweetness of very fresh scallops and were a bit overcooked.

Tagliolini with scampi and zucchini flowers. The pasta was a little limp, but the dish very tasty.

Frito misto of squid and small fish. Most enjoyable, each type of fish so perfectly cooked....probably best frito misto I have ever tasted!!! Can you believe that a new EU law now prevents the serving of baby squids!!!

Misto bosco with some orange.

Complementary Italian version of butter cookies, faintly flavoured with orange.

And at the end, a complementary digestive glass of fragolino. They are most hospitable here!


By menu presentation, a very promising resto. The first place where I ate where the resto did not deliver. For example, reading the menu before II made the reservation, I saw that they had bollito misto, one my very favourite dishes of the region, but (who ever heard of this travesty), a fried version....I mean, what's the point?!! A “bollito” that is fried??

Tagliatelle fresche di farina di castagne (chestnut flower) con carciofi culatello e pecorino (ewe's milk cheese). Another disappointing dish. The tagliatelle was all broken and not particularly pleasant to eat, the flavours of the dish no compensation.

Risotto alla milanese con salsa al midolo (beef bone marrow sauce). A good risotto but the marrow sauce was truly so innocuous as to be imperceptible in flavour. 

A very good veal chop "milanese". Crunchy breading with a juicy, tender veal interior.

Cazzoela, pork rib chops, pork skin, sausages with cabbage stew con polenta, was a very good, truly rustic dish with every component falling into place.  Very satisfying stick to the ribs flavours.

Tortelli ripieni di zucca gialla e amaretto serviti con burro fuso (house made ravioli with pumpkin and almond biscuit filling served with melted butter). Lovely pasta purses with sweet pumpkin and almond flavours all enhanced by the melted butter sauce. 

Chocolate pear tarte. This was a choc lover's delight. A layer of high quality molten dark chocolate over paper thin layers of pear.

But, would I return, no.


Ma.Ri.Na is a resto that is definitely not on the tourist radar. Have you read about it or heard about it......unlikely! But, to local cognoscenti and knowledgeable European gourmands visiting Milan, it is on their maps. People go miles out of their way to experience the fresh fish oriented cuisine here, particularly the range of pristine raw shellfish and the wonderfully creative pasta. The restaurant is located close to Malpensa airport, about 19Km east, and kind of on the way into Milan, very accessible if coming from the airport, for a stopover for lunch. The resto is about 39Km north west of the centre of Milan, if traveling from the city.

Pheasant pate crostini (no photo).

Gazpacho with strawberries, lemon and tomato, poached langostino, barely cooked.

Marinated salmon, yogurt cream and olive oil.

Scallops, cheese, red shrimp, fried shrimp head, white shrimp and pistachio. Everything raw.

Their take on typical Ligurian salsa verde, potato bread, carrots, beans, raw tuna, maertensia, maritima leaf, all on beet puree.

Codfish tartar with tomato and onion, persimmon, tuna belly tartar, cavallo nero puree.

Honey with balsamic vinegar, fleur de sel, scampi from Sicily, South African lobster removed from shell chopped and replaced, emulsion of tomato olive oil and balsamic. All raw.

Papardelli stuffed with fois gras, quail with a black truffle butter sauce.

Pastry zabalione.

No comments:

Post a Comment