The Isola district has a duality in many different aspects and this also applies to its food and wine scene. On one hand there are many brand-new openings lining the streets, offering contemporary cuisine, whilst on the other are historic restaurants that still rooted in local tradition, celebrating the district’s historic recipes.
Da Tomaso is one of the most historic and truly iconic traditional eateries or trattorie, open since 1961. It has a single glass frontage facing onto the street from a traditionally styled building, in the shadow of towering skyscrapers. The sign tells the story of another era, as does the interior and the simple yet authentic menu.
Keeping this historic trattoria company is another institution, Pizzeria alla Fontana, located slightly to the north near the Santuario di Santa Maria. This family-run pizzeria has been serving up its famous deep-pan pizza by the slice since 1973.
Do you feel nostalgia for the Milan of another era? Osteria al Nove is just the place for you. Opened in 2006 by a historic bowls club—now incorporated into the restaurant—here, past and present live hand in hand, as phrases in local dialect rise above the internal courtyard.
Equally successful in marrying past and present is Frida, an eatery and institution established inside a former industrial space, now packed with greenery, interaction, street art and artisan goods, and capable of uniting the many faces of the Isola district in one place.
Last, but certainly not least, is the renowned Ratanà, where chef Cesare Battisti offers traditional Milanese dishes with a modern twist, inside an early-twentieth-century building that was previously a goods depot. The name refers to the tales of don Giuseppe Gervasini, “the priest of Ratanà”, born to a family of innkeepers in the Isola district and apparently capable of feats of healing.