Around the World – Isola Della Pizza, Milano, Italy

Simple comfort food that is cooked to perfection!

After a full day of interviews and many traffic jams on the drive back from Biella, Cindy and I arrived at our hotel near Milano Linate airport early in the evening. As she had to endure 2 days of hotel restaurant food earlier that week, we decided to grab a bite elsewhere.

We ventured out and close-by, in a mix of suburban housing flats and offices, we found a little restaurant called Isola della pizza (Via Mecenate, 84, 20138 Milano) that got some good reviews on internet. We stepped in at 8.15pm finding the place completely empty. Luckily, we saw some staff in the back that assured us that they were open and shortly after we sat down the place became pretty packed.

In broken English, the very friendly waiter asked whether we would like to have some “chip” (huh, what? sheep?!?!) while looking through the menu. Why not? We ordered one portion as we had become a bit peckish. To our surprise, within a couple of minutes, we got a huge plate of home-made fresh potato chips that were just sprinkled with some sea salt.

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They were cut about 1mm thin, so they had both bite and crunch. I can’t recall being served this before in a restaurant, but it is extremely simple, yet very satisfying!

The “Island of Pizza” was aptly named as it had over 85 pizzas on the menu (ranging from EUR 6 to 12). As others arrived, we had a view of the open kitchen preparing the pizzas: incredibly thin but truly the size of wagon wheels. So whist nibbling away on the potato chips, the special of the day, a primi portion of pasta carbonara, seemed the better option. Pasta carbonara is really a dish whereby you can tell the skills of the cook. You don’t want to know how many times – even at reputable Italian restaurants – the consistency of the sauce more resembled scrambled eggs (still damn tasty, but not how it should be done…).

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This one was impeccable: great al dente pasta, delicious salty pancetta and a velvety rich sauce. Despite it being a starter portion, it was quite a challenge to polish it off.
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Luckily, they had only one portion of tiramisu left, so we decided to share it. A delicious proper (coffee based) tiramisu. In any case, the walk back to the hotel was welcomed…

In hindsight, a menu that could have been served in a tourist trap Italian restaurant in any major city, but this one at Isola Della Pizza was just fantastic and – including wine and a couple of local artisinal beers – only set us back EUR 40. The amazing dinner we had at Il Patio the evening before was in a completely different league, but simple comfort food that is cooked to perfection can at some level be equally satisfying!

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