If the name Milano’s sounds familiar, that’s because the restaurant was in Glacier for 24 years. The beloved Italian restaurant now has a new location in downtown Fairhaven, just a few doors down from Village Books, making it Bellingham’s newest destination for fine Italian dining and seafood. 

Milano’s owner, Sam Hassan, bought the Glacier location in 2015. After transforming it into a must-stop restaurant — among other changes, he expanded the wine list, edited recipes, and opened a bar — he decided it was time to give the business new life in Bellingham.  

Burgers, Pasta, and a Seafood Lover’s Dream 

On the new lunch menu you’ll find various burgers — but these aren’t your average salt-and-pepper burgers. They’re really, really good. The John Wayne Burger ($15) features a thick 6oz. patty of marinated beef topped with melted Irish Dubliner and Romano cheeseParmesan mayo adds extra flavor, but if you want to turn this burger into one of the best in Bellingham, add bacon and a fried egg. Served on a brioche bun along with fries or a salad, this burger is well worth its price tag.  

For dinner, start off with a fresh salad of Avocado, Hearts of Palm, and Cherry Tomatoes ($11). Topped with lemon olive oil from Drizzle next door, every bite is fresh and full of flavors that complement one another perfectly.  

If you’re craving meat, go with the Short Ribs with Carrot-Parsnip Puree ($24), one of the most popular entrees. Sourced locally from Claus Meats, these ribs are perfectly marinated and fall-off-the bone tender. The carrot-parsnip puree is earthy, toothsome, and slightly sweet.  

For a seafood extravaganza, try the Cioppino ($29). This Italian-American stew is like a miniature ocean in a bowl. You get a sampling of mussels, clams, calamari, prawns, scallops, and cod, all flavored with roasted fennel, shallots, chili flakes, and white wine. The shallots are a standout, probably because they’re cooked in Beurre D’Isigny, a gourmet French butter known for its hazelnut notes.  

The menu changes often, so be sure to check online ahead of time.  

Rare Wines…To-Go 

Wine lovers will also be at home at Milano’s, which has the largest wine list in Whatcom County. Their selection boasts more than 200 wines, many of them rare and sourced from famous wineries around the world, like Makihuan in Argentina and Miolo in Brazil. Some bottles you won’t find anywhere else on the west coast.   

In light of the pandemic, the menu now features dishes that work better for take-out. Because pasta dishes don’t travel well — the pasta will soak up all the juices and become soggy, Hassan explains — Milano’s supplies the raw pasta separately, so customers can cook it at home. If you’ve been experiencing lackluster take-home meals, this might just be the solution.  

Milano’s also offers various items for purchase, including their Bristol Bay sockeye salmon sourced from a local fisherman, pasta (including a gluten-free pasta), and gift packages.  

An Italian Village Inside, Heated Dining Outside 

The new Milano’s opened in early October, right before the second wave of restrictions. Luckily, the space is particularly well-equipped for heated outdoor dining. The front patio is recessed into the building, meaning diners are protected by a roof and walls on each side, while the open front lets air circulate past multiple heaters.  

Once restrictions lift, diners will get to enjoy the interior of Milano’s, which is designed to look like an Italian village, with windows and balconies facing into the dining room. Various stained-glass pieces decorate the walls, including a rainbow glass piece meant to signal that all are welcome in Milano’s. Pair the setting with a staff that’s friendly, professional, and attentive, and you’ll see what makes Milano’s so special.   

Milano’s is a high-end restaurant, but it’s also informal. You don’t have to dress up, Hassan ensures, and everyone is welcome.  

We practically have zero complaints…people are loving what we do,” he says. 1210 11th St., Bellingham, 360.599.2863​​​​​​, milanosrestaurantbar.com 

 For more like this, check out our Taste section here.