Each night after an enjoyable aperitivo in the town square (see “Revisiting Menaggio” here) we headed off in search of dinner. Although small, Menaggio has a number of delightful family owned eateries. They all made use of the excellent range of local produce, lavarello the main fish from the lake, seasonal vegetables and regional specialities like pizzoccheri the buckwheat pasta from the Valtellina valley. The latter is situated to the north of Lake Como on the border with Switzerland and is renowned for its superb wines – we sampled quite a good selection of those as well. Home made desserts were a major feature of all the menus and we made it our mission to try as many as we could! The locals each assured us that their tiramisu was the real deal. I don’t want to show any favouritism as they were all superb! One probably had the edge over the others (in our opinion) but you’ll have to go and try them all out for yourself to decide!
Osteria il Pozzo
Osteria were originally places serving wine and simple food. The Osteria il Pozzo, tucked away in a little corner off the main square, still retains a quaint, rustic and homely feel. We followed the recommendation of a young family, who were just leaving and were not disappointed. It was a Saturday night and packed but we managed to get a little table in the far corner of the courtyard.
Even a major downpour, as a huge storm rolled into town, didn’t dampen our spirits. In fact it added to the atmosphere and a couple more drinks helped to warm us up again!
Albergo Vapore Ristorante
We found out about il Vapore Ristorante from Julia, our tour guide on the day trip we took from Menaggio to St Moritz. She partly recommended it as the proprietor is very loyal to the wines of the Valtellina region. Having driven through the valley without having the time to stop and sample the produce, we felt we should make amends later in the evening. With its wisteria covered entrance and bright blue paint, il Vapore looks warm and inviting and we received an equally warm welcome from the owner once we went inside.
Mlle was excited to have pizzoccheri again having tried the distinctive buckwheat pasta on a trip to her friend’s family home in northern Italy the previous year. The freshly caught lake trout, the trio of desserts and the Valtellina wines – we had a veritable feast!
Ristorante Pizzeria Vecchia
We ended up at Vecchia on our final night in Menaggio a bit more by accident than design. Our hotel porter had told us about it and insisted we should go there and ask for Tato (whom we took to be a relative). He assured us that this was where the local Italians go to eat as it is just like their home cooking and was rather dismissive of the “touristy” restaurants! We were a bit dubious and were intending to go back to one of the other restaurants on our last night when we found that the last laugh was on our porter and Tato – everywhere except il Vecchia was closed on a Wednesday night and not surprisingly Tato was doing a roaring trade! We ended up with a meal excellent in its simplicity – a deliciously light mushroom risotto for me and pizza for Monsieur. More excellent Valtellina wines and superb desserts. We even got discount vouchers to Tato’s clothing store in the town centre (maybe our reward for accepting the porter’s tip?). Alas we didn’t have time to go and look at the shop but Vecchia is another local gem (again hidden up a side street off the main square).
Despite appearances to the contrary, the food we had on our north Italian trip was surprisingly fresh and light – no heavy pastas or uncomfortably rich sauces, just simple cooking using fresh produce and packed with flavour. And the Valtellina wines provide a superb accompaniment to the food – “Buon Appetito”!
Copyright © 2016 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved