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Italian Lakes restaurants

With the lakes straddling so much of northern Italy, the cuisine varies, from the rib-sticking alpine food and hearty red wines of Piedmont in the west to the polenta and plump gnocchi of the Lombardy plains to the risottos and delicate white wines of the Veneto and würtstel and beer of the Teutonic Trentino in the east. One common theme throughout is, of course, the bounty of the waters, especially persico (perch) from the lakes and trota (trout) from the mountain streams that feed them. Since the lakes are popular vacation spots, bland pizza and trattorias serving insipid pasta straight from the box abound. However, these are balanced out by plenty of wonderful mom-and-pop osterie where the proprietors truly care about their home cooking. The region's enduring popularity with Milan fashionistas translates into dozens of excellent restaurants where the chefs continue to garner accolades and top billing in international dining guides for their innovative takes on traditional cuisine. As with hotels, many restaurants on the lakes close in October or November and reopen at Easter. Opening hours are fast and lose, but lunch is generally served from 12:30 to 2 pm and dinner lasts from 7:30 until the last diners have finished lingering over their espresso (about 10 pm).

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Vecchia Lugana, Sirmione

For three decades, the Ambrosi family ran Lake Garda's best restaurant in this converted 16th-century farmhouse at the base of the Sirmione peninsula. They...more

Editors' Pick
San Rocco, Orta San Giulio

Everyone needs a break from Italian food once in a while, and the international cuisine at the San Rocco fits the bill. Start with the smoked Scottish salmon or...more

Editors' Pick
Ristorante Sociale, Como

There's nothing fancy about this homey trattoria under an arcade beside Como's cathedral, and that's pretty much the point. The only hints of pretension are the...more

Editors' Pick
Ristorante Hotel Al Sorriso, Soriso

Nestled in the tiny village of Soriso, five miles south of Orta San Giulio, Al Sorriso is spelled with a double "r" because sorriso means "smile" in Italian....more

Editors' Pick
Ristorante Barchetta, Bellagio

Bellagio is the most popular resort on the most popular lake, which makes its lack of truly superlative restaurants doubly surprising. Luckily, this cozy corner...more

Editors' Pick
Osteria degli Amici, Stresa

Like all lakeside tourist towns, Stresa is littered with passable pizzerias and bland restaurants cranking out the "greatest hits" of Italian specialties for...more

Editors' Pick
Locanda dell'Isola Comacina, Ossuccio

Lunch at the remarkable Locanda dell'Isola Comacina is literally a trip. The only access to this uninhabited Lake Como island is by boat from Sala Comacina, and...more

Editors' Pick
Il Sole di Ranco, Ranco

Il Sole has become a temple of Italian haute cuisine, with the presentation and prices that go along with it. The cuisine is based on regional specialties plus...more

Editors' Pick
Gardesana, Torri del Benaco

Annalisa and Giuseppe Lorenzini oversee this classic lakeside restaurant and inn located in a 1452 palazzo (Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Winston Churchill,...more

Editors' Pick
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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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