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In Milan, there is a cult of the sandwich – a true religion unto itself. There are many reasons for this unbridled passion.
Born in the 80s was the cult of the ‘paninaro’ a social and cultural phenomenon that radically influenced the teenagers of that era. Young, carefree and hedonistic, teenagers would wear their fluoro Moncler jackets, Levi 501s rolled up, El Charro Belts and Ray Ban aviators.
In the decades since then, the panino played a pivotal role in the Italian culinary scene, and was showcased in the 2015 Milan Expo.
But maybe the main reason for the panino’s fame lies in the fact that the Milanese are always so busy and always in a hurry, and so they want something quick and easy. But also gourmet.
Here to help you navigate all this is Flawless Milano‘s guide to the best panini in the city, for historical value, for their newness and for nightlife.
Corso Magenta 9 – La Rinascente Piazza Duomo, 7th Floor
De Santis say themselves that “from a small place… was born the most delicious sandwich in the world!”. Big words, but we can’t fault them. Born in 1982 this is the the place where you can enjoy gourmet sandwiches. Many loyal customers including world famous designers, actors, athletes, singers, models and entrepreneurs. Many of the offerings have been inspired by or dedicate to them. There are over 201 recipes from both sweet tooths and traditionalists. They are bold but perfectly balanced. The bread is toasted on a grill. The ingredients are so fresh you can’t help but admire them.
Corso Garibaldi 125 (with 13 other locations around Milan)
There’s a proper smorgasbord of cold cuts, cheese, slices of tomatoes and salad. We all have our favorites here, whether it’s the Jolly, the Truffle, the Savoy or others on the list. Since opening its first store in 1979, there have been collaborations with star chefs including Alessandro Borghese and Claudio Sadler. Outlets have multiplied in Italy and abroad all characterized by an unmistakable Old English style, in its mahogany and green stores. Panino Giusto exported the panino to the world making it an instantly recognisable symbol of this city.
Antica Salumeria Laghetto
Via Laghetto 3
This is the deli you went to as a child. This is the place made of perpetually smiling and friendly people, ready to craft your sandwich with fresh ingredients. Meats and cheeses are of excellent quality and refinement. This paninoteche is right next to the Statale University. Do not miss it if you’re in the area.
Via Quadronno 34
Bar Quadronno is one of the original paninoteche. Born in 1964, this is where the idea of reinventing the sandwich with sauces and culinary delicacies came about. It was a novelty back then to order a michetta with salami, ham or cheese. Since then though, it has been a growing success. You can get this snack any time of day. And should you find yourself in New York wanting a snack, you know that you could find its sister store, the via Quadronno.
Crocetta – Panini d’autore 1982
Corso di Porta Romana 67 and 3 other addresses in Milan
Legend has it that this place was founded by the inventor of the sandwiches of Bar Quadronno, and that at some point he decided to open his own store. Legend or not, this place is one of the institutions, despite its modernisation and renovations in recent years. Seeing something at the Teatro Carcano, drop in right next door.
Piazzale di Porta Ludovica 2
With all of its awards and honors, this place could do with a few more paragraphs. Not only is this place known as an excellent pastry and panettone shop, but its owner Mr Domenico was awarded the Cavaliere del Lavoro title by the Gold Ambrogino. But as evidenced by the yellowed article in the wall of the dining room, a sandwich from Gattullo has been something special since 1961. Friends of Mr Domenico have included many of the big names of entertainment and culture in Milan. Many still frequent the tables of Gattullo, and many of the other customers are from the nearby Bocconi University. An excellent sandwich is the triple special with ham, fontina and salsa rosa. It is packed into three slices of bread.
Via Durini 26 and 11 other addresses in Milan
Born in 2011 this concept is based on the freshness and authenticity of Italian products used. As the name of the shop would suggest, the panini here are a must try. The bread is baked and delivered every morning from artisan bakers and is prepared with sourdough yeast in order to ensure a greater lightness and digestibility of the product. This is used to frame the delicious ingredients stuffed within.
Largo Isarco 2
Designed by director Wes Anderson, Bar Luce recreates the atmosphere of a typical Milan from the days of yesteryear. You can0’t miss the sandwiches here which are the main attraction (besides the look of the place). There are several delicious recipes for every desire and mood, divided into sausages, meat, fish and vegetables. Here you’ll be greeted by elegant and polite staff in starched shirts and black bowties (as well as some hipster tattoos). The sandwiches can be savored on the formica tables or outside. Don’t forget to treat yourself ice cream or fruit popsicle.
Via Aristide de Togni 15
Via de Togni is one of Milan’s most magical streets. Set between Università Cattolica and Santa Maria delle Grazie, it is framed by elegant mansions, hidden courtyards and enchanting gardens. In this place there is a bar that is listed in the yellow pages as Bar Anny’s but for connoisseurs and long time customers, this place is known as the Deto. On entering you’ll be enveloped by the retro atmosphere created by the low hanging lights, and the relaxing sofas and long bar. There’s a chest of delicious ingredients. This bar’s reputation is well established as being one of the places where you can taste some of the city’s best sandwiches: the Delizioso, the Zac, the Anonomo, the Neruda and a long and extensive list of mouthwatering options. The real highlight of this place is not just the sandwiches but Antonio, the creator of the sandwiches with his tireless repository of smiles, jokes, rumors and advice. Here you’ll never be a random customer, but always called by name. Anybody traveling through this area should be remembering Bar Anny as the place to go when the fridge is empty or the wife’s on vacation.
Editor’s note: This article is proudly sponsored by Gorilla srl and promoted by Flawless Milano. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make Flawless Milano possible.