Our contributing editor in Rome, Erica Firpo, has been carrying on a love affair with Milan for a while. Her latest flirty discovery is Bouecc, a old-fashioned restaurant that recently opened an unexpectedly fresh and casual dining room.
MILAN – Te gh'ee l'oeucc pussee grand del boeucc.
That's Milanese dialect for "Your eyes are bigger than your mouth."
For me, my boeucc and my oeucc (bocca and occhi in formal Italian) are a complementary tag team when I'm eyeing must-try restaurants. This time, they took me to Boeucc, a tony and historic spot in Milan's Piazza Belgioso, the well-heeled neoclassical square near La Scala and the Galleria. Boeucc ranks high in Italy for its history and tradition — the restaurant is more than 300 years old and is an historically registered building as well as a business. The beautiful neoclassical dining room has high ceilings, Murano glass chandeliers, hardwood floors, and marble columns. Gastronomically, Boeucc is known for its strict adhesion to Milanese dishes.
But until recently, I was not at all interested in dining there because Boeucc seemed, well, predictable. And potentially disappointing. Its Duomo-adjacent address suggested a price tag that might overshadow the meal and a clientele of finance types and trend-hungry tourists.
Still, I couldn't resist taking a peek at the menu. I'm glad I did, because otherwise I would never have discovered the restaurant's new, informal, lunch-only Bistrot, which I now consider the best of Boeucc.
The Bistrot is like dipping your toe in Boeucc's 300-year-old history and tasting a few of its signature dishes without worrying about the wallet or any stuffy attitude. The menu offers a pared-down version of the restaurant's more serious dining tome. But my advice would be to order by looking (and smelling) what the other guests are having.
I did just that and had tortellini di carne with panna and prosciutto, then costellotta di vitello alla milanese, the typical breaded fried cutlet. My husband Darius chose started with tuna tartare, followed by octopus in red sauce with peas, but he agreed that my pasta was the best.
Style-wise, the Bistrot's dining room has the same refined style as the main dining room — columns, chandeliers, and charming waiters in ecru jackets — but the vibe is far more laid-back — more chatter, a eclectic collection of modern and contemporary art sketches, posters, vintage photos covering the walls. Yes, there were several business lunches going on and lots of fitted black and navy blue suits, but overall, it was light-hearted and luminous, kind of like the perfect spot to start a very casual affair.
Boeucc Bistrot is fun, affordable, and flirty, with just a touch of gravitas to remind us we were in Milan.
Piazza Belgioioso, 2
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE
This article originally appeared on Erica's website and is reprinted with permission.