New restaurants open and close all the time on Lake Como, but the following remain firm favourites with both locals and tourists.
€ Il Messicano
€ Bar Il Saggitario
On Lake Como as elsewhere in Italy, there is a huge variety of places to eat, from small family-run Osteria and Trattoria to top-class restaurants. Here are just a few that we have tried and tested over the years, which you may not discover on your own (listed from Como town going north up the western shore). Menus are usually in English, but watch out for the cover charge or ‘coperto’ which is an extra per person charge. Many of these restaurants close out of season (November to February), so get your hotel to call in advance and reserve a table for you.
Key - based on 2 people having 2 courses (except for pizzerias) including ½ litre of house wine
€ up to 30 €€ 30-50 €€€ 50-80 €€€€ 80 -100+
€€ Il Pomodorino
Via Cinque Giornate, 62b 031 240 384 ristoranteilpomodorino.it open 7/7
Located in the cobbled back-streets of Como town, but well signposted. Offers a large selection of all home-made produce including the pasta and the bread as well as a varied menu including meat, fish, pasta and pizza (wood oven).
€€ - €€€ Il Pepe Nero
Via Pietro Boldoni, 26 031 260333 pepenerocom.com open 7/7
Very central and easy to find, opposite the Coin store behind Piazza Cavour. Has both indoor and outdoor seating. Good selection of dishes and wines. Stylish dining atmosphere (no pizza).
€ - €€ Taverna Spagnola
Piazza Volta 33/Via Grassa 031 272 460 closed Wednesday
Just off Piazza Volta, down a side street. As the name suggests, this is a Taverna, not a restaurant (although it is not actually Spanish), with freshly cooked, fast/simple dishes – pasta, meat and huge pizzas. Tables are wooden and the atmosphere is usually buzzing. You can eat till late, often until midnight. Good food at a very reasonable price – always full of locals.
€ Il Messicano
Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini, 6 031 266 204 open 7/7
If you just want a pizza, this is the best in Como, hence the long queues of Italians! The pizzas served on huge oval wooden platter, are thin and crispy and there is a huge choice. Pasta and salads are also available.
€€ Le Colonno (part of the Hotel del Duca)
Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini, 031 264 859 albergodelduca.it open 7/7
Run by the same family for 15 years, the Santarelli’s, this cosy, friendly restaurant offers traditional Italian cuisine, specialising in fish. They also do excellent pizzas.
Via Boldoni 3 031 267846 open 7/7 (lunch)
A panoramic restaurant & bar on the 5th floor of the ‘Coin’ store just behind Piazza Cavour. Serves great food, as well as cakes for afternoon tea. Only open at lunch-time with daily menus, great on Sundays. It’s worth popping in just for a coffee or a drink for the view over the roof tops of Como.
Cernobbio (one of the more pricey towns to dine)
€€ - €€€ Albergo Centrale
Via Regina, 39 031 511 411 albergo-centrale.com open 7/7
A great location on the main road running through Cernobbio, very central and always excellent food, with a great choice of pasta, meat and fish dishes (no pizza).
€€ - €€€ Harry’ Bar
Piazza Risorgimento, 2 031 512 647 closed Tuesday
Very popular with well-heeled Italians. A stylish lakefront restaurant in the main piazza. Attentive service and a quite pricey menu. Superb for dining al fresco. (no pizza)
€€ - €€€ Il Ghatto Nero
Via Monte Santo, 69 031 512 042 il-gatto-nero.it closed Monday
Located in the hills above Cernobbio, affording stunning views of the lake below and the city of Como. Popular with Villa D’Este guests, the food is always excellent, with a huge choice of menu and an excellent wine list. Set on various levels, it has a very intimate atmosphere. Ask for a lake-view table outside on the terrace in summer. (no pizza)
€€€ - €€€€ Villa D’Este, Veranda Restaurant
Via Regina, 40 031 3481 villadeste.com open 7/7
Hailed as one of the best hotels in the world by Travel & Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler and Forbes Traveler, this represent luxurious, attentive, formal lakeside dining. Dine either protected by huge glass windows which disappear into the ground in the summer or al fresco. Open for both lunch and dinner (don’t forget your jacket and tie in the evenings). Traditional Italian haute cuisine with an extensive wine list and a knowledgeable sommelier. (no pizza)
Via Regina Vecchia 24 031 346 111 hotel-lago-como-imperiale.com closed Monday
The restaurant is part of the 4 star hotel Imperialino and is mentioned in the Michelin Guide 2010. The lakeside location is romantic and the food is traditional Italian with an imaginative interpretation. Popular with businessmen at lunch-time and for candle-lit dinners in the evening. (no pizza)
€€ Orso Bruno
Via Regina, 45 031 400 136 hotel orso bruno.com closed Monday
Lake view restaurant (part of small hotel) on the lower lake road. Attentive service from the husband and wife team. A varied menu with pizza, pasta, steaks and both lake and sea fish.
€€- €€€ La Locanda del Cantiere
Via Vecchia Regina, 91 031 401 400 lalocandadelcantiere.it closed Tuesday
An interesting restaurant located in a former boatyard, located on the lower lake road and run by Father and 2 sons. The restaurant has huge windows overlooking the lake and an outside dining area in the summer. The varied menu changes weekly and there is a lunch-time specials menu at a reasonable set price.
€ Bar Il Saggitario
Via Regina Nuova 6 n/a n/a closed Tuesday
If you are looking for a real local experience and want to sample food cooked by mam and served up to the local workmen at lunch time only for the princely sum of €12 for 2 courses including house wine. There is no menu, as it changes daily, but there is usually 3-4 choices of pasta, followed by 3-4 main courses. It is more of a café/bar than a restaurant, but the food is always good.
€ Il Lido
Via Lungo Telo destra 031 821 100 n/a closed Tuesday
Serving only pizza, salad or mixed meats, the menu is basic, but extremely well-priced and the location is lakefront with a lawned area to dine outside during the summer.
€€ - €€€ La Piazetta
Piazza Roma, 6 031 821 110 piazzettargegno.it closed Monday
Offers a welcoming and stylish interior in the winter and al fresco dining in the piazza in the summer. The seasonal menu is always with a twist - pasta with unusual sauces, blackened salmon, fresh tuna, seafood risotto or chestnut risotto in the winter, as well as crispy based pizzas & home-made bread. They even offer a free taxi ride home if you are staying locally.
€€ (lunch) - €€€ (eve) Hotel Belvedere
Via Statale 031 821 116 villabelvedereargegno.it open 7/7
Lovely outdoor, lakeside setting on a nice day for a light lunch. The menu is limited, but tasty and the setting is lovely. The menus is more varied but also much more expensive in the evening (more so than the other restaurants in Argegno), so only worth a visit if you can sit outside on the lakeside terrace as the interior is a little dated.
€€ - €€€ Barchetta
Piazza Roma, 2 031 821 105 www.ristorantebarchetta.it closed Monday
Try the menu Degustazione at €29 to sample some local specialities. The menu changes according to the season, so you will find pizzoccheri, chestnuts and porcini in the winter and fresh asparagus, artichokes and seafood in the summer. Their all-year round speciality is fillet steak with porcini mushrooms and potatoes.
€€€ La Tirlindana
Piazza Matteotti, 5 0344.56637 ristorantelatirlindana.com closed Monday
A delightful location in the piazza, overlooking Isola Comacina. Run by a husband and wife team of French-Spanish chef (Patrizia) and husband Freddie, a French-Italian, the food reflects their eclectic mix of cultures. Everything is home-made. Try the lemon ravioli. Portions are not large, so you can easily eat all 3 courses. The desserts are delicious.
€€€ Locanda del Isola
Isola Comacina 0344 55083 comacina.it closed Tuesday
Located on the only island on Lake Como, this is a real experience. This is where all the stars go when they visit the area! The menu has not changed since 1947 and today you get the same 5-course menu for €64pp including as much wine as you like. It is massive meal, so make sure you are hungry and is available at either lunch or dinner time from April to October. You even get a short history of the island during the coffee ceremony, presented twice daily by the unforgettable Benvenuto. Note: credit cards are not accepted. To get there you park in Sala Comacina and get the water taxi across.
€€ - €€€ La Comacina
Via Statale, 14 0344 55035 ristorantelacomacina.it closed Monday
On the main road by the bank in Sala Comacina, a stylish restaurant with a lovely balcony overlooking the lake. Run by a husband and wife team, Gianni and Cristina, it serves home-made pasta, fish of the lake and steaks, as well as seasonal dishes and special theme nights e.g truffles or suckling pig. Also closed on Thursday during the winter.
€€ Crotto La Sorgente
Via P. Castelli, 5 0344 55270 crottolasorgente.com closed Tuesday
You would never just stumble across this ‘secret’ restaurant. Dating back to 1962, it is actually a trout farm in the hills above Ossuccio. Full of rustic charm, and featuring river trout, fished daily from fresh water beds provided by the nearby Perlana waterfall – smoked, dried (missoltino – a lake speciality), grilled or served with sage and butter- all served along with a health dollop of polenta. If you book in advance you can order sausages, pork ribs, cassoella (cassoulet) or Brassato (melt in the mouth beef braised in red wine).
€€€ Lido di Lenno
Via Comoedia, 1 0344 57 093 lidodilenno.com Open 7/7
Located on the angle of the bay of Lenno, where they have constructed a beach/lido area as well as a stylish nightclub on the beach with Bedouin tents! A haunt of Milanese footballers, this restaurant is only open in the summer, as it is set in a marquee. The menu changes regularly, based on fresh local produce, they also have a BBQ grill for meat and seafood. Offers an international menu and an excellent wine list – over 100 different wines from all over the world.
€ - €€ Il Cris
Via Armando Diaz, 7 0344 55 131 closed Tuesday
An excellent find, just off the beaten track, down a narrow driveway, just above Lenno. A well-kept secret, here you will find great pizzas, excellent pasta, amazing steaks and seafood (try the seafood basket – a seafood stew served in a pizza-base bread basket).
€€ Hotel Plinio
Viale C. Lomazzi, 3 0344 55158 closed Wednesday
With a lake front terrace in the pedestrian lake-front of Lenno, they serve a daily set menu with home-made pasta, meat and lake fish dishes. A good venue for lunch on Lenno market day (Tuesday), followed by a trip to Villa Balbianello.
€€ - €€€ La Darsena
Via Regina, 3 0344 43166 www.centrohotelslagocomo.it/darsena_tremezzo open 7/7
The restaurant is part of the hotel and is located right at the front in a stunning lake front position overlooking Bellagio. Indoor dining with panoramic lake-view windows or outdoor dining, so be sure to book a table on the terrace in the summer. The menu changes regularly and is based on local, seasonal produce.
€€€ - €€€€ Grand Hotel Tremezzo
Via Regina, 8 0344 42491 grandhotel tremezzo.com open 7/7
Refined al carte dining at the 5 star hotels La Terrazza lake-view restaurant. The terrace offers stunning views of Bellagio, almost directly opposite and very romantic with its twinkling lights in the evening. Dress code of smart, casual attire (no jeans).
Tremezzo (Frazione Roghero)
€€ Fagurida Trattoria
Via St Martino, 15 0344 40676 closed Monday
A real local and rustic experience with platters of meats, cheeses, polenta and braised beef brassato), with wine in earthenware jugs. Try the antipasti della casa. Ask for a table with a view.
€€ - €€€ Il Velu
Via Rogaro, 17 0344 40510 alveluu.com closed Tuesday
Stunning views and good food from this elegant restaurant perched on a hill in a hamlet above Tremezzo.
Menaggio is one of the larger resorts and as such offers a large selection of restaurants. If you are staying there, ask your hotel for their reccomendations or if you are visiting just for the evening, go early, have an aperitivo in one of the lake-front bars (suggest Hotel du Lac), then browse the menus displayed outside each restuarant and take your pick, depending on taste and budget.
Via Molino Nuovo 7 0344 50932 closed Wednesday
Down on the lakefront in Aquaseria is a real gem, the Crème Caramel. In summer they have tables so close to the lake that you can almost touch it and they serve some of the best pizzas for miles around, but only in the evenings. The lunch-time is a set menu at €15 with good home-cooking and a choice of daily specials.