In our town De Santis is a real reference spot. But we need to do a step back. The ’80 Milan: a town trying to forget the years of lead, the terror of Piazza Fontana and of the organized crime, the taste for fun is coming back, the economy is slowly rising again, optimism and euphoria flashes sparks through various social classes. The Milano da bere is born, with its aperitivi and its staying up late, its first cocktail bars followed by the club. The Milanese’s rhythm is everyday more chaotic, you barely go home, because what is outside is too much appealing. In this historical period, not just because of practical needs, is finally born the cult and then idol of the sandwich. A kind of food able to satisfy the majority of cravings and people at any hour of the day. Prepared in thousands of different ways, with any kind of bread, big medium small. You eat it standing and it is practical: does not dirties too much and really eats your fill.
You can find many high quality spots where to eat a good sandwich, but the historical one is only De Santis. More than two hundred recipes, high quality ingredients and many homemade products, which enrich the whole experience, making it even more unique. The traditional sandwich requires, as a basis, a cured meat, a vegetable and/or cheese and a sauce. Why not considering seasoned goat cheese? With onions, basil or white wine. Probably only tuna fish was always considered a strong and key ingredient, good to add in many recipes. But De Santis offers us smoked salmon, shrimps, smoked mackerel and is not afraid to combine them with strong flavour cheeses, like gorgonzola or fontina, sometimes dressing everything with a Vodka drop. The bread comes only partially baked, being completed cooked only when ready to be served. A real delight.
While I was a student at the Cattolica, I sometimes enjoyed to gift myself a De Santis sandwich, even only to immerse myself for one hour in that narrow hallway, which, since 1pm, has a prurient toaster smell. Here I loved to challenge the guys behind the counter finding a sandwich on the list they did not remind. Alas, I never succeeded in fooling them. I tried with the Masterago, a vegetarian option really tasty with pears, melted brie, white wine goat cheese, melted fontina, arugula and cocktail sauce and the Nina: mortadella, parmesan cream cheese, baby artichokes, tomatoes and salt. But my favourite one has always been the Primavera: raw ham, basil goat cheese, tuna and cocktail sauce. Fresh and fanciful.
Even though today there more locations where you could taste De Santis, I suggest you to go to the original and characteristic spot in corso Magenta. Dark wood, showcased products, a couple of stools outside during the summer time, a hallway narrowed and crowded… the right place where living the original author’s sandwich experience.