Milan | Manna

This has to be one of my favourite eateries in Milan. And every time it’s serendipity anew, this neat place in a trim, quiet square in a decidedly untrendy part of town, the old Turro neighbourhood.

Matteo Fronduti, pure Milanese, class of ’77, is proprietor and chef at MannaA trifle gruff in appearance (variously compared to a bear with a sore head and a vexed biker – and indeed a biker he is, complete with handlebar moustache), he’s not only a dab hand with creative, contemporary cuisine but also a modest and attentive host.

He does simple dishes with originality and flair. The menu is seasonal and relatively limited, but every item is meticulously prepared and served – and cleverly, sometimes obscurely, named too. Summer 2012is a delightful collection, a joy to read (but only in Italian) and even better on the table. And prices are reasonable for the gourmet quality. There’s a good wine list, again selective rather than extensive.

The setting is quiet and refined, light and modern. There are original touches, such as the collection of old drawers (furniture parts rather than undergarment) attached to one wall and colourful contemporary artwork elsewhere, but nothing that overtly shouts design.

Just try it.