If you ask for a “panzerotto”, here in Milan, the answer will be Luini. Yes, because if you come to the capital of Lombardia you want to do three things: shop ’til you drop, selfies with the Duomo in the background and queueing at Luini. There is nothing more Milanese than sinking your teeth into a panzerotto Made in Puglia perched on the sidewalk of via Santa Radegonda, behind the Rinascente and two steps from La Scala.
An institution, easily recognized by the stream of people that flows through the doors of the little shop. Luini – for over sixty years – has been distributing thousands of filled panzerotto to the autochthonous and to visitors every day. Fried just like the tradition in Puglia demands or baked for the more healthy minded, the most popular is the classic panzerotto with melted mozzarella and tomato. But, people ceremoniously line up for the ones filled with ham or eggplant, too.
Maybe, it’s the really soft dough, the perfectly fried outer layer, but Luini has no rivals. The other regional specialties complete the offer, like focaccia with olives and little dates and taralli, prepared every morning according to an original recipe. And, obviously desserts: from panzerotti filled with chocolate, to torrone and glazed doughnuts, also fried all the way to carteddate, a sweet paste rolled, tossed in boiling oil and covered with honey and cooked wine.
An endless success, carried along by the Luini Family all the way to the third generation: from the founder lady Giuseppina, who arrived in Milan back in 1949, to her son, Mr Luigi who made this Bakery famous during the years of Milano da bere, to our day with Cristina and Emanuela Luini. And even though business continues to grow every year, just like the international popularity, the two heiresses don’t have the slightest intention (for the time being) of opening a franchise, like other fortunate bakeries have done. They have too much to handle with one shop – they say – let alone with two or even ten!
Luini is one and only. And maybe that is exactly where the secret lies. And that is why I get in line at Luini with a smile pasted on my face, with the same half moon of a panzerotto.