Aimo e Nadia: Considered Milan’s best restaurant and one of Italy’s top 10, this elegant and intimate spot strikes a perfect balance between tradition and innovation. Each dish is a masterpiece. Via Montecuccoli, 6; (39-02) 416886.
Shambala: This exotic restaurant is located at the southern border of Milan. A bit out of the way but worth the trip as the creative Vietnamese-Thai cuisine is served in a sensual garden setting. Try tom yang soup. Via Ripamonti, 337; (39-02) 5520194.
Nobu: Famed chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa opened his namesake restaurants in London, New York and Las Vegas. Milan’s version of Nobu is located in Giorgio Armani’s new glam superstore. The ultrachic and super-refined Nobu serves Japanese-Californian fusion, with South American influences in an atmosphere that blends ’60s minimalism and Nippon style. Try a personalized aperitif. Via Manzoni, 31; (39-02) 62690729.
Joya: This Asian-influenced vegetarian’s delight serves up some of the most creative meat-free plates in Italy. The eatery also serves fish, but the real mystical experiences are the exceptional desserts. Via Panfilo Castaldi, 18; (39-02) 2049244.
Bouecc: One of the most established Milanese restaurants, the historic Bouecc is just steps from the Duomo. Classic Italian cuisine is the main attraction. The great Napolitan actor Eduardo de Filippo considered the spaghetti with tomato sauce and basil the finest outside of his native city. Piazza Belgioioso, 2; (39-02) 76020224.
Xe Mauri: With Venetian-Marco Polo- style decor and classic cuisine to match, this new eatery has already achieved cult status. Good wine list and superb quality-price ratio. Via Confalonieri, 5 (Brera); (39-02) 60856028.
Tano passami l’olio: This super-small (eight tables, 22 seats) refined restaurant is ideal for a romantic dinner by candlelight, away from the Mifed circles. Try the formaggetta with porto wine and pine nuts, and remember to reserve well in advance. Piazzale stazione Porta Genova, 3 (corner via Vigevano); (39-02) 83942139.
Giulio, pane e ojo: This small, authentic Roman taverna serves rich, traditional dishes such as porchetta and pajata, two meat dishes worth the splurge even if you’re on a diet. But the pasta is unbeatable, as are the prices. Via Muratori, 10; (39-02) 5456189.
La Cuccuma: Considered the best pizza in town, despite being cooked in an electric oven. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch live music Neopolitan-style. Try the pizza Nanninella, and reserve well in advance. Via Pacini, 26; (30-02) 2664945.
La Cantina di Manuela: One of the oldest and best-loved enotheques in Milan, this wine bar serves up cold insalatone (big salads) and salumi (cold cuts) as well as a superb wine list that includes Italian and international bottles. Via Cadore, 30; (39-02) 55184931.