Searching for the best Milanese risotto with Ossobucco online yielded a few results, but none pointed to this tiny place, with a Michelin Guide mention tucked away behind a gas station. Aptly named 23 Risotti for their numerous varieties of hearty portioned risotto, my friend in Milan recommended and made a reservation for us. Clearly, the locals have their favourites, but when I came back and read about this place, it had raving reviews. Simply didn't show up on searches.
Anyway, our friend couldn't make it to dinner so it was just the two of us. We suggested to the host that we'd be happy to eat 3 people's worth of food. The burly Italian chef smiled and walked away and his wife, who cooks the risotto came over to say hi. Pleasantries done, we got down to business. While we came here to have the Milanese Risotto with Ossobucco, we ended up ordering another Milanese favourite, the Cotoletta alla Milanese. While at it, we also got ourselves two dishes from their special menu of the day, a fried zucchini flowers with mushrooms and a Sformato of Pumpkin and Artichoke.
What we didn't know was that the first dish, the fondue with artichoke and pumpkin would arrive with a generous shaving of truffle on top. Creamy fondue with sparsely flavoured artichokes and pumpkin that brought out the natural flavours and the truffle adding another flavour and element, this was a well balanced and tasty dish. The crispy zucchini flowers and mushrooms were comfort food at it's fine dining best - fantastically light batter, no dripping oil, nothing to dip it with (oh yeah, no ketchup) and made with exotic (by Indian standards) vegetables. I couldn't help think of it as a high class Bhajji.
Then came the dish I've been meaning to eat in Milan for a while, the Milanese Risotto. First impressions, after accounting for the al-dente, is how the saffron wasn't overpowering but strong and the shaves of parmesan on top. While I'm used to shanks of lamb, the cross cut of the meat with special cutlery to scoop out the marrow was a first for me. The generous gravy served in the same bowl as the risotto was also a first for me and thankfully I have the gold standard now for this dish. I've never thought of eating risotto with gravy and both of us enjoyed this.
The Milanese love their Cotoletta and any comparison to the Viennese Schnitzel is bound to lose you a few friends, but now that I've left Italy, I can safely say that I'd prefer the schnitzel any day.
While we were stuffed, our hostess suggested we either order a dessert or they serve it anyway. Laughing, we narrowed onto the Milanese cake and begged them not to serve a second dessert. A light airy cake with creme anglaise and strawberry, we licked it clean. The crusty outside of the cake was too beautiful to waste and we actually contemplated on getting another dessert before the high from the cake went away and thankfully our senses returned and we asked for the bill which was EUR 110. Oh, in Italy, the bill doesn't arrive until you ask for it, no matter how long you sit in the restaurant.
Barely able to walk, I think we rolled our way back to our hotel.
23 Risotti is in Milan and a quick google search will give you the exact location and when in Milan, it is definitely worth a shot.