Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Boss and Tizzy's N.Y. Bar & Grill

On Monday evening, for almost an hour, I was thirteen again. The good thirteen, not the insecure, pimply version of teens. The thirteen of life-long friendships, unrequited love, a clean slate of adulthood and opportunity stretching ahead of me. The thirteen of colt-like, tanned limbs and cherry lip gloss, of slushies and wine coolers.

It is not often that you get to step into a time machine, it is not often that your teenage dream comes true.
The other night Bruce and the E Street Band played the whole soundtrack of my early teens in sequence - just like I had listened to it so many times that the cassette broke and I had to tape it back together - and I was there, singing with him.

Nothing like the notes of that album can bring back those warm summer evenings spent hidden on the back porch roof, that handful of scorching black tiles where everything I wanted and needed was at arm's reach. My best friend, a soda or two, and shared stories over stolen menthol cigarettes of holding hands under a beach towel and sloppy kisses. We sometimes changed the names and words of his songs to create our own stories, our own oaths, but his music was always with us, in the boom box on the window sill,  in our walkman. We sang about factories closing down, unions cards and relationships gone bad, but we only heard what our young ears wanted to hear: love, adventure, lust, camaraderie.

Chocolate milk shake

Time changes things and almost three decades later, I have changed too. Now, when I listen to the Boss, I see the whitewashed windows and vacant stores*, not just the girls in their summer clothes. The only one who never seems to change is Bruce himself, jumping up onto the piano in one leap after singing and running all over the huge stage without a single break for over three hours. The man was born to run.

Leaving San Siro - Good bye Bruce
I sang my heart out to my very own Bobby Jean, remembering how we used to sing in the car at the top of our lungs with our windows rolled down. I hummed to I'm on Fire using the flashlight app on my iphone instead of a lighter. I clapped my hands until they were sore and went down, down, down with him and the other 60,000 enthusiastic fans in the stadium. And as I sang along about those glory days that will pass you by in the wink of a young girl's eyes, I realized that I had been that girl  too.

Thank you, Bruce, for the magic. And for working on  my dream.

Fries come with all burgers

If, like me, you were born in the U.S.A. and you get homesick sometimes, I suggest trying out Tizzy's N.Y. Bar & Grill, a place that reminded me of my hometown.

Although it is a definitely more hip, Milanese incarnation of your typical American blue-collar diner, it is definitely the most authentic American meal I have experienced here so far.

Beer from home

It was the logo of the Brooklyn Brewery (and the disenchanted hope for a decent burger) that first lured us in like the Odyssey's sirens, as it brings back many memories of good friends and great food shared on the other side of the pond. We couldn't resist the calling and it helped us get through the long wait in a place that unfortunately does not accept reservations for parties under 8 for Sunday brunch .

Jumbo hot dog

We ended up waiting twice as long as we had been told, as is often the case, but the all-English speaking staff was extremely nice both while we were waiting and while serving us (not a given in Italy) despite my intial diffidence towards trendy eateries. Sitting at the bar also gave me the chance to watch the barman mixing up a pretty decent looking Bloody Mary at the bar (EUR7), with a nice dollop of horseradish mixed in.

Great window seats for people watching

When we were finally seated at our window table looking out onto the Navigli and ideal for peoplewatching, we were given two menus. The first one offers everyday diner fare: five kinds of sandwiches (like the BLT, grilled cheese and tuna salad sandwhich) named after the NY boroughs, classic American salads (Caeser, Cobb etc.) and a pretty long list of burgers. There is also a choice of BBQ ribs, onion rings and a jumbo hot dog. For those of you with a sweet tooth and nostalgia of American favorites, desserts include cheese cake, brownies, floats, banana splits and cookies. The milk shake comes in three flavors and topped with whipped cream and a  (EUR2) addition of peanut butter if you are so inclined. The sundae comes dressed up with the traditional whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles but the chocolate sauce is just chocolate syrup (no hot fudge unfortunately) and it was not topped with the florescent red cherry (that I never eat anyway, but that just screams sundae to me).


There is also a brunch menu, which is served on Sundays between 12 and 5pm. You can have fluffy pancakes, cinnamon French toast, omelettes, eggs pretty much any way: scrambled, sunny side up, over easy, benedict. For drinks, besides soda, juice, beer and wine, you can order a mimosa, a bellini, a bloody mary or coffee (good American and Italian, not the usual instant coffee they serve at brunches here - refreshing for a change).

NY wisdom

But back to the true star of the menu, what you are probably going there for in the first place: the burgers. There are plenty of options for all tastes, from the classic cheeseburger to turkey, pork or veggie burgers and lots of toppings like avocado, bacon, and several cheeses, including gorgonzola.

Ilana burger

My choice (the Ilana burger) was topped with crunchy, fried onions and Swiss cheese. F had an Ellen and Norman burger topped with cheddar cheese and bacon (nice and crisp, the way we like it, might I add). The bun holds up well to the large, comfortingly irregular patty . We ordered our burgers rare, and hallelujah, for the first time EVER we got what we had asked for.

Rare! Yeeessss!

The burgers may seem pricey, at EUR10-12, but they are in the price range of most of the burger joints that have started popping up all over town recently. If I had to make one critique, it would have to be the puddle of grease at the bottom of my oh-so-American basket, that then proceeded to dribble down my wrist while eating it.

The fries, that come with all burgers, are good (crisp on the outside and fluffy inside, sprinkled with salt and pepper, just how I like them) but what I loved the most was the individual kethcup bottles on each table. In Italy, ketchup is usually brought to you in a small bowl with a spoon, or even worse in those little sachets, which is usually the amount I consume in a bite. So hooray for that. Extra toppings come at EUR2 each.

Ellen & Norman burger

Another thing that gave me great pleasure was the iced coffee I ordered, even if it wasn't on the  menu, without getting baffled looks and having to explain (when I get lucky) how to make it, or getting a caffé shakerato (when I am not lucky - cold coffee shaken until foamy with  liquer and way too much sugar) instead.

Aahh... iced coffee

So if you feeling blue, this is the place for you.

Tizzy's NY Bar & Grill
Alzaia Naviglio Grande, 46
20144, Milano
For reservations (for 8 people or more):
Tel: +39 02 58118227

Monday: 17:00 - 24:00
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday: 12:00 – 24:00
Friday, Saturday: 12:00 – 2:00

*for you Springsteen fans, forgive the Italics, I know you know...


  1. Oh to be 13 again but with current day wisdom!! Friends went to see him when he was here and they loved the show :D The hot dogs and rare (yay!) hamburger looks fantastic too. Memories!

  2. Who doesn't love The Boss! My husband sings in a band and he has sung some of his songs and they're not easy! You have to have a voice in amazing tip top shape to hit all those notes and then you have to be super fit to keep going and move all over the stage for a couple of hours. Three hours? The guy's a legend xx

    1. 3 hours and 15 minutes this time, 3 hours and 40 minutes last year when he came. Pretty amazing at age 63!
      P.S. I like your husband already ;o)

  3. Listening(and reading) to you wax poetic about The Boss makes me want to go too, so please, next time he's in town remember us, and we can all get tickets together!

  4. Oh I loved Bruce and a great burger and fries back then and now! And, yes, it is all even better now because both are rare, indeed. I love this post... and am keeping this address for my next visit to Milano!!

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