Bello E Buono
I stumbled across this place totally by accident but it may also have been fate… I was in the Porta Romana area with my sister who was visiting me and we decided to go for lunch – it was 3 o’clock which means most places, especially ones that serve food, in Italy would be shut. I knew of a restaurant chain almost next to the station so we headed down and walked through the door only to be greeted by a fake smile and a semi-sympathetic “I’m sorry, we closed five minutes ago… Maybe you should try the place across the street.” Which to me, in fewer words, meant “Please get out and go elsewhere, I’ve had a long day, the cooks have gone home and I forgot to lock the door.” I took no offence as I already knew that finding a place open was a long shot and could empathise with the man who had to attempt to turn away two clear foreign people that didn’t know their opening hours.
We took the chain-owner’s advice and crossed the road to a big fancy looking bar with seats outside under a large umbrella. Before asking to be seated I asked to see the menu which I recommend anyone to do, especially in Milan, as I have heard near-horror stories about prices that people have paid for things. My gut instinct was right, it was an over-priced bar which sold sandwiches at €9,00… I politely handed the menu back to the waiter and told him that we would probably try somewhere else. We continued walking down the road toward the University (Bocconi) and I knew there would be SOMETHING open.
It was literally the next food place along from the over-priced bar where I saw a sign which contained a word that I had not seen in Milan, ever – the word was: Gastronomia.
What a beautiful word, Gastronomia. It can obviously be easily understood but many people don’t even know what gastronomy itself actually is. The world only found itself on the tongues of the common masses thanks to the trend of the “gastro-pub” which to most means a pub which sells food. Gastronomy, as a word itself actually means so much more. It means the practice or art of choosing, cooking, and eating good food. It is a word which sums up Italian cuisine to me in the most simplistic of manners: Find good products, cook it well and it will taste amazing.
To cut a long story short I sheepishly walked in and asked if they were still open as I could see a few people in the far corner who were clearly their workforce about to tuck in to some hard-earnt tasty looking food. A young man sprung up from his seat and made us feel welcome as if he had been waiting all day for us to come in. He sat us down and began to talk us through what was on offer and what they could cook up for us fastest if we so wanted them to. Upon entering their shop we saw food which immediately caught our eye and our stomachs. The young gent told us not to worry, he could see we were looking at every single anti-pasto that was on offer which ravenous yet appreciative eyes. He fixed us a pizza plate of everything from parmigiana alla melanzane to meatballs which simply and astonishingly melted in your mouth.
Whilst my sister and I tucked into said pizza plate of delights a set of elder women came into the shop and questioned the same young man who had been so helpful with us on every single food item that they could see or read on the wall menus. Once again, as if talking to his beloved nonna, he patiently and effectively explained what each thing was and how it was all made. From that point onward I knew he wasn’t just a waiter in a small shop. He, along with a few friends, was a part owner of this magnificent eatery. They had all come from the South of Italy to study in Milan and once they graduated from the Bocconi and Cattolica, respectively, they decided to open this shop rather than take the road which most of their classmates would have taken to the financial sector.
Food so good that it tastes like their nonna’s nonna had made it, combined with the fact that they charge so modestly for top quality homemade food makes Bello e Buono a perfect spot to eat at any time of the day. Their customer service was second to none, they were friendly, helpful and very charismatic. An absolutely faultless establishment which will be on the rise very soon. The owners have clearly worked very hard and combined the skills that they took away from university and mixing it with their practical application and ability have made their six month old business already a small success which has filled a niche yet wanting gap in the market.
In bocca al lupo ragazzi!
Location: 14 Viale Sabotino (Porta Romana – MM3 – Yellow Line) and short walk or Tram number 9