Mitshel Ibrahim’s Insider Guide to Milan

Mitshel Ibrahim’s Insider Guide to Milan

Meet Ombra Head Chef Mitshel Ibrahim, who spills the beans on where to eat, drink and catch a sunset in Milan like a local.

the lockdown hammer fell on London’s hospitality industry
at the start of the 2020 pandemic, most chefs shut up shop and
waited for the storm to pass. Not Mitshel Ibrahim, though.

As the Head Chef at Hackney’s canalside Italian joint, Ombra, Mitshel took the Covid
restrictions as an opportunity to dig in his heels and work on
growing other areas of the business. Three weeks after the
government’s initial lockdown plan had been announced, Ombra had
rebranded itself as a pastificio (pasta shop) and was already
dishing out takeaway from its popular vantage point above Regent’s

It’s not hard to see where Mitshel’s entrepreneurial spirit
comes from when it comes to food. As the son of Egyptian
restaurateurs, you might say that hospitality had always been in
his blood, but we’re inclined to think it was his Italian
upbringing in Milan that led him to take up the mantle at Ombra.
That, and having worked in some of London’s most renowned kitchens
– The Ten Bells, The Clove Club and Robin Gill’s The Dairy group –
of course.

Convinced he was the one to show us our cannolis from our
cannellonis, we sat down with Mitshel to get his insider tips on
Milan, from where to find a secret flamingo-filled garden that only
locals know about, to the best spot in town for catching the

Where to aperitivo in Milan according to Ombra’s Head Chef
Mitshel Ibrahim

Describe Milan’s vibe in three words…

Fashion, design, aperitivo.

When’s the best time to visit?

As with most major cities in Italy that aren’t by the sea,
summer is definitely not the best time to visit. A lot of
businesses close during the high season – usually July or August,
or sometimes both. I really like September in Milan, when the
leaves have started falling. May is also a great time to visit: the
weather is starting to get warmer but still isn’t too hot, so the
city can be explored on foot. In the evenings people start to take
over the pavements and streets, drinking, chatting and enjoying
evenings outside again after the winter.

What’s the city’s dress code?

As the Italian capital of fashion, clothing for the Milanese is
everything. Whatever you decide to wear, be aware that someone will
probably stare and judge if it’s not Gucci.

Describe a perfect day in Milan…

Stop in for breakfast at the local tabaccaio (literally, tobacco
seller), which is usually a café with a few pastries that have been
freshly baked that morning. They also sell the daily papers, and on
Mondays are filled with locals who meet to drink espresso and stand
around discussing the football referee’s poor choices over the
weekend. After that, head towards Castello Sforzesco, to visit the
museum and, if the weather’s nice, have a lie down at Parco
Sempione. When it’s time for a snack, head towards Piazza Duomo and
look for Luini, a small
long-standing bakery famed for its ‘panzerotti’ (deep fried
calzone, a type of folded pizza). If you’re after some culture,
either visit the inside of the Duomo or Palazzo Reale, which
usually hosts interesting exhibitions. Finally, head towards the
Naviglio for an aperitivo, find a trattoria for an early dinner and
end the day with an opera at “La Scala”.

Where can we catch the best sunset views in the city?

The roof of the Duomo, from where you can see the entire city
from above, as well as the intricate sculptures that decorate the
outside of the cathedral building. It’s magical up there.

It’s Saturday night in Milan. Where should we head for

Bar Basso is where the
Negroni Sbagliato, a close relative of the Negroni, was supposedly
invented. This is Milan, so think elegant interiors and cocktails
that are served in huge glasses with ice – one of these is usually
enough for the night!

Romantic dinner?

Trippa is perfect if
your date likes bold, rustic flavours. If they don’t, then find a
new date.

Where’s the best pizza in town?

, without a doubt.

Tell us about a secret spot only locals know about…

In Porta Venezia there is a garden with pink flamingos. Type
“Villa Invernizzi” into Google Maps. Thank me later.

One thing we shouldn’t miss while we’re in town?

The Last Supper mural by Leonardo da Vinci.

Suggestions for day trips?

Lake Garda. There’s a direct train from the main train station
that’ll get you there in an hour.

Finally, what’s in your SUITCASE?

A lot of clothes. You don’t want to be seen wearing the same
pair of shoes twice in Milan, or locals will unfriend you very

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