Osteria del Binari (MI)

by Lavinia Colonna Preti
Osteria del Binari (MI) — Lombardia Secrets

In Milan in Tortona, a retro oasis which, born as a railway after-work club, is today a romantic bastion of traditional Milanese food, still managed by the same family that founded it.

It may be the charm of the old tracks, the large stone fireplaces full of bowling trophies and the solid counters of the taverns of the past; what is certain is that Osteria del Binari has been one of the most fascinating places dedicated to conviviality in Milan for over 100 years.

Its history as a railway after-work club began in 1870 when the Porta Genova station was inaugurated, the oldest in Milan still in operation, and accommodation and restaurant businesses were created all around.

Osteria del Binari (MI) — Lombardia Secrets
Osteria del Binari (MI) — Lombardia Secrets

Since I have a sweet tooth, I thought of Binari as a bit like the kitchen at home, open only in the evening to welcome friends and lovers of good food in general.

(Cesare Denti, founder)

Its second life as a restaurant started, however, in 1972 when Cesare Denti, then manager of a well-known fashion company, decided to open, partly as a bet and partly out of passion, his own “parlor” where he could get along well with his guests, both friends and customers.

At the beginning the spaces were smaller, then given the success of the business, Cesare and his wife also began to purchase neighboring businesses, including an old workshop, until reaching the current shape of the place which is divided into rooms from different eras, a winter garden with a characteristic green iron-glass structure and a magnificent outdoor garden set up where the bowling greens of the railway employees’ club once stood.

Osteria del Binari (MI) — Lombardia Secrets

Many of the furnishings, including 3 of the 5 beautiful fireplaces that embellish the room and the exposed beams, were, in fact, part of the original nucleus of the building, while the Art Nouveau touches were added by Cesare, passionate about this style. Like the beautiful deco counters of the bar, purchased from the former Cobianchi hotel in Piazza Duomo, or the Tiffany lamps that characterize the Osteria taken from the Mercanteinfiera in Parma.

Today it is his son Matteo, who has a background in fashion as a designer, who manages the place, much loved by the “last romantics in Milan” and custodian, together with a few other restaurants, of the true Milanese tradition.

Osteria del Binari (MI) — Lombardia Secrets

At the Osteria del Binari the cuisine is typical Lombard, with its most-loved recipes, from saffron risotto to Milanese cutlet, to which are added the great Italian classics such as paccheri with shellfish or grilled cuts of meat. The wine list is truly remarkable with over 800 references, including top wines from Lombardy and from all over the world.

Curiously, the entrances to the place remain 2 as in the past: on the right that of the Caffè del Binari, bar and bistro open from breakfast to lunch, while on the left, open only in the evening, that of the restaurant.

Osteria del Binari (MI) — Lombardia Secrets

In summer, Osteria del Binari offers a magnificent garden, one of the largest in Milan, covered by a romantic wild vine.

Book one of the rooms with the fireplace, have the candles lit, and voilà, the “Vecchia Milano” is served.

The Secret

Together with Cesare, Michelin-star Gualtiero Marchesi began working as a chef here and, years later for another group’s restaurant, also Davide Oldani. Despite its traditional cuisine, it seems that a “good” star watches over Osteria del Binari after all.

Useful Info

Osteria del Binari
Via Tortona 1
20144 Milano
Tel. +39 02 89409428

Starters: from 16 euro
First courses: from 14 euro
Second courses: from 20 euro
Tasting menus: from 60 euro, wine pairing 60 euro

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