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Fioraio Bianchi Caffè, Milan

7 Via Montebello
Italy 20121
Tel: 39 02 2901 4390's insider take:

One of the city's most original restaurants, the bistrolike Fioraio Bianchi Caffè occupies a former flower shop in the artsy, fashionista Brera district. The fiorista, Raimondo Bianchi, still tends to the blooms and the slightly gothic sculptures of dried plants that adorn sideboards and walls—and they're all for sale. The floral Addams Family decor is charming and unsettling at the same time—rather like the brisk and sardonic manner of the gruff French headwaiter. Even the menu is different: Entrées and primi are grouped together, followed by mid-courses, then desserts. It all feels like it's trying too hard for effect—until the food arrives, and the whole thing falls into place. This is really top-notch modern Italian cuisine, artfully presented, but also convincingly flavorsome, from the toasted tuna chunks with dried fruits on a bed of artichoke purée to desserts like the deconstructed tarte Tatin (a lot less pretentious than it sounds). Another bonus is a really fine selection of by-the-glass wines at affordable prices.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 8 am to 2:30 pm and 6 to 11 pm.

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