Don Lisander (Milan, Italy)

It can hardly get more Milanese than this! Don Lisander is a well established traditional Milanese restaurant, situated in Via Manzoni, a central street in the heart of Milan between the Quadrilatero della Moda and the business area of Piazza Affari. A tiny dining room obtained from the chapel of Palazzo Trivulzio (built in the 18th century) reminds of the historical and artistic importance of the city. The real gem of the restaurant is the romantic garden where it is possible to dine during the warmest months of the year. A few weeks ago, I visited it with some friends for dinner – my friend GR had the brilliant idea to organise an aperitivo in the garden, all reserved for us; despite the approaching chilly weather we managed to keep warm! We had the chance to try some traditional dishes with an innovative twist, presented in the for of  finger food.

We started off with some original starters served in tiny glasses.


The traditional caprese was created with creamed mozzarella and tomatoes – even the basil was made into a cream of basil. The mozzarella was incredibly soft and light.

We had a soft cheese with mashed peas on top, finished with a touch of liquid liquorice. The saltiness of the liquorice was a good balance for the plain, almost sweet mash and the acidity of the cheese. For the fish, we had a quail’s egg covered with fish eggs and raw tuna with a salad of oranges and fennel – the oranges were a good, refreshing match for the rather fatty tuna. I very much appreciated a rich salmon tartar that was served in a white ceramic big spoon. All fish lovers where happy to receive more of it, in the form of shrimps with red onion from Tropea (about which I had already talked in my post about the Calabrian dinner). The warm, meaty shrimps went extremely well with the finely-cut pickled onion.

The last fish appetiser was bresaola with frozen mojito. Utterly refreshing!

After these cold appetizers, we also had a hot one, which turned out a smash hit amongst my friends: deep fried zucchini flowers filled with tomatoes, mozzarella, scamorza cheese and a tad of anchovy. Although it was not easy to spot the scamorza cheese, I believe it’s just the thing that made the dish: as a cheese on the hot side, it gave some needed pungency to the mild tomato sauce and the zucchinis themselves.

Strictly observing a Milanese menu, we had risotto as a primo. It was quite creamy (all’onda, as we say in Milan) and very well executed in the most traditional of ways.

Finally, we finished the dinner with some desserts: fruit coated with chocolate and cannolini (a typical Italian pastry roll filled with cream).

A blissful end to this Milanese dinner throughout which we were mindfully guided by the owner Luigi who did its best and indeed succeeded in making us feel at home. I should conclude this post by thanking him and GR for having organised this dinner with the most thoughtful attention to all the details that made that night a very special one.


Don Lisander

Via Alessandro Manzoni 12, Milano

02 7602 0130


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