Located in the Porta Venezia area of Milan, near the Lima metro station, Trattoria Sabbioneda is a no frills eatery where you feel like your stepping back in time (and into the real home of a real Italian). The decor is decidedly dated, kitschy and cluttered, but that’s a big part of its charm. The menu was completely in Italian; while I understood most of it, I did have to whip out the digital dictionary for some help. Our server was a kindly older Italian lady who seemed to enjoy our ineptitude with her language.
There is a lot of wood paneling, as you can quite plainly see. This rustic and authentic atmosphere was similar but entirely different from L’Angoletto Romano Ristorante in Rome. I did find that service wasn’t as attentive, but I know that Italian service is different in that it’s up to you to tell your server that you need something. She won’t come to “check on you,” but she’s perfectly friendly when you do ask for something.
Sparkling Water and House Red Wine
As is the case with the rest of Italy, drinking tap water is not recommended. So, I managed to order a large bottle of sparkling water (acqua frizzante) and a small carafe of red wine (vino rossa).
Tagliatelle and Tortellini
Just as we did in Trattoria Bordino in Florence, we started our meal with a couple plates of pasta. There’s nothing quite like having fresh homemade pasta when you’re in Italy and these offerings from Sabbioneda really hit the spot.
Cotoletta alla Milanese (Veal Cutlet, Milan Style)
It may not look like anything particularly special, but when you have a great veal cutlet with just a little squeeze of lemon juice, it’s quite the satisfying piece of meat.
Ossobuco alla Milanese (Veal Shank with Marrow, Milan Style)
This was something I was looking forward to eating all trip and I finally had the opportunity to have it. While I would have liked to have some more marrow, the veal shank itself was incredibly tender. The flavors, as was the case with the other dishes, were simple but satisfying.
Polenta and Potatoes
We probably could have done without these side dishes, given that we already had pasta as our starters. We just felt compelled to have something next to our meat dishes, as most places in Italy are a la carte. The sides weren’t particularly compelling, but I suppose they served their purpose.
Dinner for two — including wine, water and gratuity — came to a very reasonable €45, which works out to about $60. That’s about the same as how much dinner cost at Ristorante da Sabrina in Venice, but this “homestyle” food was far superior.
If you’re looking for a fancy restaurant that tries to hold up appearances, Trattoria Sabbioneda is not the place for you. If you’re looking for authentic food prepared simply for a humble price, then you’ve got to eat where the locals do… and Sabbioneda sure felt like that kind of place.