Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia ★★

image. (Photo by TK)

Chic food, chic decor at one of Milan's top restaurants

Of all the top-flight restaurants in Milan (expect to drop around $120 per person), none is so beloved by its patrons nor so faithful to its cooking fundamentals as "Aimo and Nadia's place."

For more than 40 years, Aimo Moroni's cooking has been firmly based in his native Tuscany's recipes and traditions, but he's not afraid to borrow liberally from Italy's other regional cuisines. Above all, he is big on natural flavors.

Up at dawn to troll the markets for the freshest ingredients, Aimo cooks only with mineral water to avoid the chlorinated taste of tap water, and he avoids using oils, butter, tomato bases, or anything else that might detract from the subtle interactions of flavors emanating from the ingredients themselves.

He's also quick to pass any praise for his creations on to his suppliers: the Piemontese consortium that raises free-range chickens under strict quality controls; the Sienese butcher who carves his lardo from the region's unique "belted" pigs and uses only salt and time, not chemicals, to cure it. (Lardo is the fat that is usually trimmed from a prosciutto but can also be salt-cured to become a melt-in-your-mouth delicacy.)

Daughter Stefania Moroni runs the dining room with silver-platter, Wedgwood-china, bow-tied elegance, but it is service of an intensely friendly, not chillingly impressive, sort. The young sommelier Renato Baroni—who relishes surprising diners with unusual choices—is so adept he can even locate the perfect 26-year-old sherry to accompany Aimo's killer chocolate soufflé.

Aimo himself frequently makes the rounds of the tables in his crisp chef's hat and wagging double chins, checking that everyone is satisfied and pausing to explain some of the esoterica behind the preparation of each dish.

It's the mark of a good cook that he cares much more about the level of enjoyment of his guests than the effort or preparation put into the presentation (none of those needlessly vast plates with a leaning tower of food at the center surrounded by artfully drizzled sauces.) And it's the mark of a devoted food maven that his customers regularly make the long trek out to the 'burbs and don't mind being surrounded by the virulently colored modern art that a recent make-over introduced, not when the food itself is so picture-perfect.

Reservations are required; several days in advance is wise.

Favorite dishes

  • Fresh filet or raw Ligurian tuna topped with lemon thyme and paired with fattened goose liver soaked in a Cabernet Sauvignon sauce.
  • Thick puree of white cannellini beans from southern Tuscany flavored with wild herbs and served with sausage made from Siena's belted pigs, boiled chick peas, and broccoli rabe.
  • Homemade extra-wide noodles in a sauce made from meat crumbled off a roast haunch of yearling veal and tossed with fresh porcini mushrooms from the family's own property.
  • An "Etruscan soup" of white Tuscan cannellini beans, tiny green beans from Umbria, and farro (emmer, a barely-like grain) flavored by wild herbs and drizzled with fresh olive oil perfumed with wild fennel.

Among secondi

  • Ligurian jumbo shrimp wrapped in zucchini flowers, coated with crushed Tuscan pine nuts, and fried a golden brown along with a medley of vegetables.
  • Portuguese baccalà (salt cod) served with olives, sweet Campanian peppers, polenta, and bottarga (the salted, dried roe of gray mullet).
  • Free-range chicken drizzled with a sauce of its reduced juices studded with white truffle shavings and five-year-aged parmesan, served with guanciale (cured jowl-bacon) and testina (a gelatinous salami made from the bits you don't want to know about) sided with a pasty Sicilian olive sauce.
  • The kidneys of a sanato (a yearling calf fed on milk and egg whites) cooked in sweet Tuscan "holy wine" made from raisined grapes, flaked with black truffles, and accompanied by a slice of a savarin (sort of like bundt cake) made from chick-pea paste, green thyme, crushed nuts from Piemonte, and stuffed zucchini.

For dessert

  • A hot, gooey, sinful chocolate sformato (souffle).

Tips & links


Via Montecuccoli 6
tel. +39-02-416-886
Lunch: Mon-Fri 12:30 – 2 p.m., Dinner: Mon-Sat 7:30 – 10:30 p.m.
Closed Sun

General dining tips
  • "Pane e coperto" is not a scam: Nearly all Italian restaurants have an unavoidable pane e coperto ("bread and cover" charge) of anything from €1 to €15—though most often €2 to €5—per person that is automatically added onto your bill. This is perfectly normal and perfectly legal (though a few trendy restaurants make a big deal about not charging it).
  • Find out if service (tip) is included: Don't double-tip by accident. If the menu has a line—usually near the bottom of the front or back—that says "servizio" with either a percentage, an amount, or the word "incluso" after it, that means the tip is automatically included in the price. (If it says "servizio non incluso," tip is, obviously, not included.)

    Even if the menu doesn't say it, ask É incluso il servizio? (ay een-CLOU-so eel sair-VEET-zee-yo)—"Is service included?" If not, tip accordingly (10%–15% is standard).

    Don't be stingy about tipping, though. If il servizio is, indeed, already included but the service was particularly good, it's customary to round up the bill or leave €1 per person extra—just to show you noticed and that you appreciated the effort.
  • Tourist menus: The concept of a bargain prix-fixe menu is not popular in Italy. Some restaurants do offer a menu turistico ("tourist menu"), which can cost from €8 to €20 and usually entails a choice from among two or three basic first courses (read: different pasta shapes, all in plain tomato sauce), a second course of roast chicken or a veal cutlet, and some water or wine and bread. With very few exceptions, tourist menus tend to live up to their name, appearing only at the sort of tourist-pandering restaurants that the locals wisely steer clear of.

    However, a menu à prezzo fisso ("fixed-price menu") is often a pretty good deal, usually offering a bit more choice than a tourist menu.

    Then—especially at nicer (and pricier) restaurants—there is the menu degustazione ("tasting menu"), usually far more expensive (anywhere from €25 to €110) that is a showcase of the chef's best, or of regional specialties, and can make for an excellent way to sample the kitchen's top dishes.
  • Book ahead: For restaurants that I am truly eager to try, I go ahead and book a table—at least at dinner. I find that a corollary of Murphy's Law seems to apply. If you prudently book ahead, you are likely to show up to a half-empty restaurant and feel a bit like a fool for having worried about finding a table. If, on the other hand, you just show up at the door expecting to find a free table, the place will inevitably be packed and its bookings full for the evening.
Italian dining phrases
English (Inglese) Italian (Italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...a restaurant un ristorante oon rees toh-RAHN-tay
...a casual restaurant una trattoria
oo-nah trah-toar-RHEE-yah
oon ohst-air-EE-yah
I would like to reserve... Vorrei prenotare... voar-RAY pray-note-ARE-eh
a table for two una tavola per due oo-nah TAH-voal-lah pair DOO-way
...for 7pm per le sette pair lay SET-tay
...for 7:30pm per le sette e mezzo pair lay SET-tay eh MET-tzoh
...for 8pm per le otto pair lay OH-toh
I would like Vorrei... voar-RAY
...some (of) un pó (di) oon POH (dee)
...this questo KWAY-sto
...that quello KWEL-loh
chicken pollo POL-loh
steak bistecca bee-STEAK-ah
veal vitello vee-TEL-oh
fish pesce PEH-shay
meat carne KAR-neh
I am vegetarian sono vegetariano SO-no veg-eh-tair-ee-YAH-no
side dish [veggies always come seperately] cotorno kon-TOR-no
dessert dolce DOAL-chay
and e ay
...a glass of un bicchiere di oon bee-key-YAIR-eh dee
...a bottle of una bottiglia di oo-na boh-TEEL-ya dee
...a half-liter of mezzo litro di MET-tzoh LEE-tro dee
...fizzy water acqua gassata AH-kwah gah-SAHT-tah
...still water acqua non gassata AH-kwah noan gah-SAHT-tah wine vino rosso VEE-noh ROH-so
...white wine vino bianco VEE-noh bee-YAHN-koh birra BEER-a
Check, please Il conto, per favore eel COAN-toh pair fah-VOAR-eh
Is service included? É incluso il servizio? ay een-CLOU-so eel sair-VEET-zee-yo
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Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia ★★

Via Montecuccoli 6
tel. +39-02-416-886
Lunch: Mon-Fri 12:30 – 2 p.m., Dinner: Mon-Sat 7:30 – 10:30 p.m.
Closed Sun

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