The Milan spirit — lively, energetic and always on the run — seems to be intact in the aftermath of the latest wave of the pandemic, despite face masks and social distancing still mandatory across the country.
The city is reawakening and so are its restaurants, museums and shops, which are preparing for the hot season ahead banking mostly on locals as tourism is expected to take a little longer to get back to pre-pandemic levels.
With Milan Fashion Week kicking off Friday in an almost entirely digital format, WWD listed a few suggestions for locals and visitors to check out in between online showcases and the few physical presentations planned.
THE CITYSCAPE RESTAURANT: CARLO AL NAVIGLIO
Michelin-starred chef Carlo Cracco’s love letter to Milan is adding another page. The star cook opened his latest happy place this spring on the left bank of the city’s Naviglio Grande canal inside a 17th-century villa known as Ca’ Bianca, which used to be a cabaret venue until the late ’90s.
A sweet escape from the city’s hectic life, the Carlo al Naviglio multipurpose venue counts several rooms — one for private dinners replete with a fireplace — and an outdoor patio. Retaining the chic charm of a countryside house, the space is decorated with long wooden tables and suspended crystal lamps plus design and art pieces, the latter selected in collaboration with contemporary art gallery Fabbrica Eos.
Every gourmet dish Cracco has become known for, including his mouthwatering version of the pizza Margherita, fill the menu, which includes the tomato risotto en papillote and the famous Orto di Carlo vegan dish, which nods to the chef’s recent gig into agriculture.
If you’re just looking for some good cocktails to sip at sunset after a busy day in front of the screen watching digital shows, the main room houses a cocktail bar with a drink list of unusual mixes, such as the Mind Ceremony, which blends mezcal, triple sec, purple carrot broth, lapsang tea and popcorn syrup.
Via Lodovico il Moro, 117
Hours: Monday to Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 6:30 p.m. to midnight.
EAT LIKE IT’S 1985: DAL MILANESE
The ’80s in Milan have been dubbed “Milano da Bere.” The mastermind behind some of the city’s hottest culinary destinations, Luca Guelfi, has just opened Dal Milanese, a traditional Milanese trattoria and bar that nods to the era. Located a stone’s throw from the entrepreneur’s more experimental and exotic locations, this restaurant is an informal spot housed inside a Liberty palazzo and filled with neon signs, vintage photos and billboards exuding a retro feel hung up on red-brick walls.
“The idea to open a restaurant dedicated to my city came from the desire to celebrate it and contribute to its renaissance,” said Guelfi, pointing to the momentum Milan was experiencing pre-pandemic. Dining to the tunes of Italy’s most renowned singers — from Mina to Enzo Jannacci and Ornella Vanoni — booming from a record player will make you feel like you’re on a time machine trip to the city’s old days of yore.
The menu, too, is retro-flavored with its selection of signature ‘80s dishes, such as bow-tie pasta with salmon and prawn cocktails. Other traditional Milanese dishes reinterpreted for modern-day globe-trotters who want to get a taste of the local cuisine include the sausage and cheese risotto, as well as meatballs topped with tartar sauce. For anyone not in Milan anytime soon, Guelfi is already plotting to replicate the format in the U.S. with the first unit to bow in 2022 in Los Angeles’ Los Feliz neighborhood.
Viale Premuda, 16
Hours: Monday to Sunday from noon to midnight.
ART YOU’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE: DART
For anyone interested in the art world and wondering what the great masterpieces hidden inside the houses of private collectors are, Dart, or Dynamic Art Museum, is a new Milan-based exhibition format devoted to offering a glimpse into the works of art usually inaccessible to the public.
Opened at the Museo della Permanente on June 5, Dart debuts with two exhibitions running until Aug. 1, one dedicated to Italy’s artists from the 20th century including Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Giorgio de Chirico and Lucio Fontana, among others, and the other to masters like Tiziano, Caravaggio and Canaletto.
The former exhibit, called “XX – The Great Italian ‘900,” takes visitors through a journey exploring the art movements that marked the 20th century and set the foundation for contemporary Italian art. “Dart is a new and dynamic exhibition format, with the artworks on show changing from time to time to offer the art community a place where collectors and art enthusiasts can catch up and enjoy different pieces from their favorite artists,” explained Piergiulio Lanza, cofounder of Dart. Further stressing the format of accessible art, Dart plans to organize weekly gatherings for art lovers, artists and critics coming together and discussing the art world.
Museo della Permanente
Via Filippo Turati, 34 from June 5 to Aug. 1
Hours: Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
HAIRMENU: HAIR BAR
As cosmopolitan and international as it is, Milan lacked its very own blow-dry bar until recently, when Enrico Stigliano and Francesca Seralvo decided to bring the format to the Italian city after a trip to New York by opening Hair Bar, just a few steps away from the Museo della Permanente.
Decked in pastel hues like sage green and baby pink, the hair salon offers a quick service for clients on the go looking for a perfect blow-dry in just 20 to 40 minutes. A range of styles from the sinuous Bossy Waves to the romantic Lovely Straight can be selected via tablets and are offered in the no-wash blow-dry and full hair care versions. “Our ideal clientele is attentive to quality and style: we developed a fun and Instagrammable format that is set to become a cult hot spot in town,” said Seralvo.
The business partners, which are backed by a group of family and friend investors, are planning to also launch Hair Bar branded hair care products, and are already looking to new openings in key Italian cities and resort destinations.
Via Filippo Turati, 3
Hours: Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.