The Hotel Bar
Milan is a city of well-kept secrets. Its beautiful streets hide beautiful gardens, private clubs, and tiny homes that double as museums. And one of the best kept but most well-known secrets is Baglioni Hotel Carlton’s Il Baretto. For 55 years, Il Baretto, a quiet, off-street restaurant and bar has been the scene, and the place to be seen, for the after-work set. Originally opened in 1962 on Via Sant’Andrea, it is the regular rendez-vous spot for Milan’s high society, prettily posing during the afternoon aperitivo, at tables replete with cocktails, finger foods, and buffet snacks fondly known as the aperitivo milanese.
A charming time capsule, Il Baretto is as relevant to the city today as it was during the 1960s when its bar was the epicenter for the who’s who of cinema, finance, and politics. In 2002, Il Baretto moved locations but, as habitués duly noted, not décor, nor attitude, as it took up a corner in the nearby Hotel Carlton.
Il Baretto remains a strictly Milanese establishment with a menu dedicated to classic local dishes like ossobuco and risotto alla Milanese.
Lined with dark boiserie and tartan carpets, Il Baretto recalls a slightly anachronistic Milan mixed with a bit of old English club house. In its main dining room, Warhol prints hang next to a vintage map of London; sitting on top of the lounge bar is the original wood counter. Owners Vincenzo Zacharia and Ermanno Taschera, two nattily-dressed Milanese gentleman, whisper quietly to each guest as they walk them arm-in-arm to their tables.
Vincenzo and Ermanno continue to be purveyors of that particular brand of Milanese je-ne-sais-quoi best described as combining impeccable style, discretion, and quality. Their stewardship of the restaurant and bar has ensured Il Baretto a listing as a Bottega Storica, a registry of the city’s historic boutiques, shops, and ateliers; and an Ambrogino d’Oro medal, awarded by the city of Milan to express their gratitude to the people and places who support and add value to the city. And Il Baretto remains a strictly Milanese establishment with a menu dedicated to classic local dishes like ossobuco, risotto alla Milanese, risotto al salto, and cotoletta alla Milanese. Naturally, Il Baretto’s wine list details over 350 labels, featuring both Italian and international imports.
But perhaps the best thing about Il Baretto is its multiple entrances, ensuring excellent people-watching from every corner of the restaurant. A picture-perfect garden entrance, the formal hotel entrance, and the private entrance through a nondescript door on Via Spiga, Milan’s famed pedestrian fashion street, are also perfect for making a sneaky getaway.