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Milan: Alla Vecchia Latteria di Via Unione

via Unione, 6 , Phone: 02.874401

Closing day: Sunday

Reviewed by: Alice Twain from Italy, review #2423

When: 2007

Crowded little milk and cheese shop turned restaurant. [Update to my 2005 review.]

Directions: Close to Piazza Duomo. Walk into via Torino and turn left into via Unione.

Our full meal, photo by Alice Twain

I returned a few times at the Latteria. The place has changed a bit since the milk and cheese bar has disappeared and has been substituted by a food preparing area. What has not changed is the food quality.

It is still basic, delicious and tasty. Fully Italian fare, just meatless. I went there in a couple of cases on weekdays, where the food is limited to the array of baked vegetables, of which you can have a sampler plate as well as single servings of any type you feel like eating. On Saturdays the offer is made richer by pastas and other foods.

The last time I was there, my friend Elisa had a huge portion of fresh handmade fettuccine garnished with mushrooms simply sautéed in a little butter with fresh chopped parsley on top, while I picked the mixed baked vegetables. Elisa's fettuccine were delicious, light and falvorful, and my plate was a gorgeous combination including Sautéed greens, carrots, parmiggiana di melanzane, vine leaves filld with rice and herbs, a very delicate onion simply topped with breadcrumbs and a little herbs and baked, a zucchini gratin and a potato filled with a delicate combination of very fresh ricotta and herbs.

We rounded out the meal with a portion of a good créme caramel topped with some freshly whipped cream and a wonderful fruit-based dessert. We just drank water and our final price was 39 euro for two people, less than 20 euro each, which is better than in most places (especially in the center) here in Milano.

Reviewed by: Alice Twain from Italy, review #1407

When: 2005

Crowded little milk and cheese shop turned restaurant. During working days a favorite with the people working in nearby offices.

Directions: Just a few steps from the Duomo: enter via Torino, second street on the left. Subway lines 1 and 3 stop at Duomo.

The mixed secondi tray, photo by Alice Twain

After reading Doru's review I had been wanting to try this place, and it happened today for lunch. At 1 pm on a Saturday, the place was still essentially empty, but it filled up quickly because it's really a tiny place with a dozen seats squeezed in a tiny room. The crowd made is worse by regular customers walking in just to buy a piece of Parmigiano Reggiano or a mozzarella and a liter of fresh milk. (This must be one of the very few food shops surviving in this area of Milano, now basically empty of private houses and filled with offices).

After a decent wait, we were offered the menu, half-printed and half handwritten on brown paper (I went +_+ trying to read it!), just to find out that many of the dishes in the list were not available. So, the owner described what he had available and we picked maccheroni with zucchini flowers and spaghetti with Sicilian aubergines and ricotta sauce. Both were delicious; the first more delicate, the latter more flavorful.

As a second dish we had a large mix of the available vegetables, which ranged from simple herbs first boiled than sautéed in oil and a little garlic to sumptous melanzane alla parmiggiana and zucchini cut in half and filled with a mixture of ricotta and other ingredients, flavored with a little lemon rind. All of them were delicious.

As a dessert we had a large plate of fruits, including two delicate fruit mousses covered with whipped cream. Yet another dessert arrived with the coffee (five slices of a wonderful cake).

We drank two small carafes of the house wine, a decent Fiano d'Avellino that was neither too strong as to "kill" the delicate food, nor too delicate as to be unable to support them.

A final check of €140 (to be divided by four people) made us all satisfied.

Reviewed by: Doru from Canada, review #15

When: 2002

A great place for vegetarians and foodies alike; also a happening...

Directions: Corner Via dell'Unione with Via Torino.

In a city like Milano, there seems to be a scarcity of restaurants open for lunch on Saturdays. Recommended by a friend, we found “Alla Vecchia Latteria di Via Unione”, predictably on Via dell’Unione, a busy shopping street at this time on a Saturday. This is no Montenapoleone for sure, but it is quite interesting to see how and where the locals shop and eat on a rest day.

The Latteria is an experience! Through a narrow door, we stepped into a very narrow and long space, about 6-7 meters long. On both sides of a narrow path there were tables: on the right tables for two, on the left tables for four. In front of us a bunch of people stood, already waiting. In fact, there is a second room in the back. There, there were two seats available at a communal table for six, and we were three. The waitress just added a chair at one end (the other table end is against the wall) and, without fuss, there was now room for the three of us.

This is a great spot for people watching, the families of Milano out for shopping with their children and mothers and mothers-in-law, aunts and grandparents. The place was totally crammed. People sat with their elbows drawn back to make more room, but nobody seemed to be bothered by this. The kids were well behaved, unlike some the North-American kids who must be entertained with pencils and colours and drawings before they eat a little piece of hog dog. These kids did not eat hot dogs: they ate what their parents ate and evidently relished it, sign that they were taught to relish simple and wholesome food and how to behave in public from an early age.

The question is: what do they eat? There is no menu; evidently, all customers know what to order and do it in apparent great detail, but it all escaped me. Our friend, a Milanese, went into a lengthy negotiation with the waitress and then explained to us that we are going to get a sampling of a variety of vegetarian antipasti and that the main courses will be combinations of two or three small portions of the specialties of the house. With a quartino di rosso in front of me while waiting for the food, I enjoyed observing this place so full of life, mostly young families with kids and elders in tow. The kids were hugged and loved and their parents, aunties and grandparents made sure the kids are also well fed.

Our plates arrived and the waitress explained to our friend what we got and then he explained in turn to us, but much was lost in the din of the place and we dug into delightful morsels of this and that. By the end of the meal all tastes dissolved into a harmony of spices and textures, but I was no wiser as to what we had in any great detail. There is no way I could have written down the menu here the way I did it at Lucca's Da Giulio's or at Siena's La Torre!

If you don't speak Italian and don't have an Italian speaking person in your group but love a delightful adventure, don't miss the place. Just say: "degustazione" or something like that and they will load your plate(s) with delicious things. Or try to speak to Giorgio Notari, the owner who usually tends the cash in the front room. Giorgio speaks English and loves a little chat with his customers.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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