Traveling without tasting the local delicacies is almost like not leaving home at all. Therefore, any self-proclaimed globetrotting gourmet not only has to try a city’s most famous dish but also try it in the establishment where it tastes the best.
And that is possible in Milan’s los Panzerotti di Luini, whose small venue is located between the Doumo and the impressive Galleria Victor Emmanuel II. It is quite normal at lunchtime to encounter a long line of locals and visitors waiting there to try some of their delicacies for the price of 3 euros or less. Yes, you may need to then lick your fingers (literally) in the street. But who cares?
Casa Luini is world-famous for its panzerotti. These are small or medium-sized pastries that are made from a dough much like that used for pizza and stuffed with all kinds of ingredients. We are in Italy, so tomatoes (raw or cooked) are included and items like soft cheese, basil, oregano and meat are also common. Since the panzerotti are fried, they do have a few more calories than a standard pizza.
As always, the secret lies in the preparation and the dough’s ingredients. Each company (just like every housewife or cook) has its own special touch that is kept absolutely secret. And Milan’s Luini make them especially crispy and tasty.
The panzerotti can be filled with vegetables, fish, meat and can even be sweet. The latter are a delight for children and those with a sweet tooth.
The history of Luini
But who is Luini? After World War II, Giuseppina Luini moved from Puglia, a poor area in southern Italy, to the prosperous and industrialized Milan. The year was 1949, and this entrepreneurial businesswoman began making the most delicious bread in the city that was preferred by the best restaurants Milanese to the delight of their customers.
It seems that Giuseppina wasn’t content with the noble art of baking bread. One day, she came across a recipe from her grandmother that explained the secrets of this delicacy so typical of her village and a new spark was lit. Then, drawing on her experience as a baker, she began to make her unique and rich panzerotti.
The exquisite pastries were so successful that the Milanese gourmands gave it the title of “food for kings”. And from those humble beginnings in a depressed Italy, which struggled greatly after the war, Luini’s panzerotti have become a hallmark of the city. Even if the city’s is not their birthplace, they are the legacy of a remarkable woman. Giuseppina and her descendants have since filled the streets around the Doumo with the pleasant aromas of panzerotti.
Remember that we are here in Milan where the use of butter and animal fats are more common than olive oil in traditional cooking. I only mention this so that you know panzoretti are exactly diet food. But why not live a little when you’re on vacation?
If you don´t like eating on the street, you can take your panzerotti di Luini back to your apartments in Milan city center and enjoy them in style. Buon appetito!