58 Michelin-starred restaurants clearly confirm that food service in Lombardy is one of a kind. This year, restaurants Da Vittorio in Brusaporto (Bergamo) and Dal Pescatore in Canneto Sull’Oglio (Mantova) have been re-awarded 3 Michelin stars. Meanwhile, 7 restaurants earned 2 Michelin stars – including the well-known Cracco, Sadler and Aimo e Nadia and the new entries Seta and Bartolini, located inside the Mudec museum – while 51 restaurants earned 1 star. Among them is Oldani in Cornaredo, whose chef is the creator of “pop-cuisine”, and the experimental restaurant Berton in Milan.
Still, our region meets the needs of every consumer and, of course, of every budget.
Generally speaking, the quality of farmhouse restaurants is rising, since most of the owners have chosen to focus on local and seasonal products, avoiding the early years’ improvisation and over-abundance. The farmhouses which chose this path are now well-established in the market and managed to keep their prices low at the same time.
The growing street food trend offers a great lunch alternative. Milan municipal council, for example, has launched a call for applications in order to grant 50 new food truck licences. “Apecars” (three-wheeled street food vehicles) have now become a distinctive feature of this city and offer a great variety of original street food at a reasonable price, such as fried appetizers, roasted meat and other local delicacies.
Expo was a springboard for the growth of new projects, particularly in the ethnic food area. Touristy places are now complemented by many high-quality restaurants, mostly South-American and Oriental, where it’s worth spending a little extra money for a taste of true foreign cuisine.
The good old taverns and farmhouses keep on surviving thanks to their being family-run, since this tradition allows a carefully managed generational change. They preserve and hand down our regional gastronomic treasures, as they are often the only places where we can taste dishes that would otherwise be forgotten. Even if eating there can be a bit more expensive, we must say that the money is well spent.
But there are also places arising out of food trends: burger restaurants, pizza places and theme restaurants that often survive just for the time of a season. We can’t deny that this is one of the issues of food service in general: many people improvise, following the trends without concentrating on food quality and adequate long-term economic sustainability. Sometimes we pay too much for a small, bad meal; other times we spend little money but end up unsatisfied.
Generally speaking, we can give a high rating to food service in Lombardy. There’s only one, huge flaw: finding the real traditional casouela in Milan is getting harder and harder (we can count the taverns that still serve it on one hand). We should make an appeal to save this gastronomic treasure of our regional cuisine.