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For our last night in Italy, we returned to the Navigli area of Milan – known for its proximity to the city’s canal system but better known for its vibrant night-life scene – and chose a restaurant at random.  Well, somewhat random.  After learning from our mistake of the previous evening to dine in a place that resembled a manic Christmas display with food that completely underwhelmed, we decided on the quieter restaurant just down the street.  Near polar opposite, it showed sleek, clean signage and a dimly lit doorway that begged the question if the restaurant was even open.

After probably noticing the strained stares through the glass from our large party of six, the restaurant manager (who resembled a younger Vincent Cassel – less dark, more friendly) came outside to try to usher us in.  With a charming albeit sly smile and a complimentary round of rosé, he had us sold.

Ristorante Biancoscuro gave the dining experience I had hoped for from Italy and from a city like Milan.  Though its elegant white interior starkly contrasted the loud circus of the restaurant from the night before, Biancoscuro managed to be more welcoming with a demurely warm atmosphere.

The food, though seemingly simple, was far from understated.  Almost all of the dishes came executed perfectly and presented beautifully.  The most outstanding, for me, was an appetizer of octopus atop a tomato salad.  Unlike the thickly cut pulpo a la gallega that I have become accustomed to in Spain, the octopus here came sliced ever so thinly and flavored with just enough citrus to brighten.  It became the first time that I’ve ever thought of octopus as a delicate dish.  The bresaola and carpaccios were just as equally delicate, fresh and delicious.

After indulgently trying out nearly every last one of the listed appetizers, some added pasta (considered a “starter” in Italy), and a perfectly rare beef fillet, we moved on to the desserts – all the desserts.  Light apple cake; a creamy but only mildy sweet vanilla pudding; and a decadent warm chocolate cake.  The marriage of the three was absolute heaven.

The evening at Biancoscuro quite embodied the translation of the name itself –  bianco “white” and scuro “dark”.  The last night in Italy was a perfect balance between the extremes.  In the company of good friends and new friends, however, it became nothing short of brilliant.

Ristorante Biancoscuro is located at 25 Via Solferino, Milan, Italy, +39 0229060332.

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