The first time you walk into Trattoria Arlati, in Milan, you may be caught off guard by the feeling of nostalgia for a faraway past you never lived. The vintage decor may bring back to mind verses from Guido Gozzano’s “Grandmother Speranza’s Friend”: “Loreto in straw and the bust of Alfieri, of Napoleon, / […] Marble pieces of fruit protected by glass bells, / A few unusual toys, chests made of valves, / Objects with the warning ‘hail, remembrance’, coconuts …”.
Then, especially if you are from out of town, you might be swept away by other ineffable perceptions, sparked by the perfumes and flavors of typical Milanese cuisine. To bring into focus the cloudy images that will rush into your head, ask about the Trattoria’s first years in business: it started as a precarious tavern in the 1930s, offering different types of risotto, soup, ‘ossobuco’, and beef stew to Pirelli’s workers. It evolved into a proper restaurant in the 1960s, when it became a popular spot among artists and intellectuals. Finally, it expanded opening the underground floor – where memorable performances took place over the years, by artists such as Lucio Battisti and Area…
Outside, the city has changed: Bicocca used to be an industrial district, and now is crowded with university students.
Trattoria Arlati, instead, is always the same: a place to sit down, eat, and listen to a story.