June 9, 2008
On June 3, 2008, we had just arrived in Milan in time for a late lunch, so naturally we headed to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. We knew that its elegance had been invaded by tourist schlock, but the structure has been renovated and there are still some elegant shops. From the size of the crowds we could tell that it is still the center of Milan, connecting the Piazza Duomo to the Piazza La Scala. We considered lunch at the well-known Savini, but were appalled by the very busy new McDonald’s across the way at which we would have to look if we lunched there. Uh oh. So we went to Biffi, which has been in this spot since 1867, when the Galleria was still under construction. It’s founder was the royal pastry chef. Surely tradition would prevail here.
We were shown to a nice table on the terrace where we could watch the many passers by. We were glad to see that most Milanese of a certain age still dress well, but they were a minority in the mixed crowd. We ordered a bottle of Pio Cesare Barbera, which got us into the mood. We wanted a substantial lunch as we would be going to the opera at La Scala that evening and skipping dinner.
Linda started with the bresoala topped with parmesan slices, but it had been dressed with so much lemon juice she had to send it back. It was cheerfully exchanged and was fine, if not too challenging.
I had one of Biffi’s traditional specialties, goose salami and smoked goose breast. It was excellent and not something one finds everywhere.
Linda went on to the potato gnocchi with gorgonzola. The gnocchi were not light, but the cheese flavor was.
My main course was another traditional Biffi specialty, osso buco with risotto Milanese. The veal was gristly and the risotto was sticky. I didn’t finish it.
So I had a coffee and we took a walk around the Piazza Duomo, looking back at the monumental entry to the Galleria, nostalgic for our first trips to Italy when everyone dressed well and it was hard to get a bad meal.