Hi all, so I am going to start my report with a new listing just so if anyone is looking for recommendations for the area, new, etc., they would be able to find this easily. I’m starting with my lunch from today, second full day of three since it is by far the best food I have had in the area, and think I am likely to find, and am going back for lunch tomorrow. First a bit about Bellagio: Glad I came here as an introduction to the area. It is full of tourists, and a lovely spot, for sure. I came here by train, plane, train, boat from London via Milan. If someone wants help navigating without their own car, just message me. It was a learning curve for sure. But also just the adventure I was looking for. I sort of had the idea that there would be water ferry/taxi service to all of the little spots I had picked out to explore (read: eat at), but this is not the case. It is possible to get places, but not to everywhere you might want to go easily.
So for example, today, I took the regular ferry from Bellagio to Mandello del Lario. It took about an hour and I met a very lovely couple from Greenwich Village, NYC. I am writing this now in case they log on and want to see what I thought of the restaurant (although they are headed to a wedding in Lecco). Mandello del Lario is the antithesis of Bellagio, and on a return visit, I would stay in this area of the lake. Here are a few pictures I took on the short stop from the ferry landing to the restaurant: Il Giardinetto:
Having trouble with the pictures, so will add when I am someplace with better wifi. In the meantime, just to say the food was amazing. Here’s the menu: https://www.ristoranteilgiardinetto.it/index.php/en/our-menu?view=menudetails&id=1&date=02/09/2022
I ate my way through it. I started with the roasted lobster. N.B. the goat cheese on the plate is light and has a creme brulee top to it. The various vegetables are prepared in their own different ways, and the sum is probably one of the best dishes I have ever had. It will be hard for me to choose something different tomorrow, though that is the point.
Next I had the sea bass tortellini. Their picture looks very different from what I had, which again was a marriage of many different flavors, complex, very delicious:
For my main, I had the turbot, again much more complex than the description/picture on their website would suggest. Included was a chunk of skin from the turbot that had been dried and then fried. The dish was also spectacular. I did eat dessert. I didn’t snap a picture, but I had wonderful wines chosen by my waiter who was so kind and attentive.
A word about the wines: I will post pictures. Apart from the first prosecco (just not my thing), I found all of the wines interesting and great pairings for the food, including the gifted dessert wine! A word about solo dining: I will post a picture from my table, but just to say, they put me in the best table in the place, in my opinion. It was hypnotic watching sailboats gliding by the mountains in the distance, and even a lone duck. For me, this meal was totally worth getting to this off the beaten path spot. My meal, including 5 glasses of wine, amuse bouche and four courses was $110. I will not be eating dinner, nor did I have breakfast.
Getting back to Bellagio, I took the train from Mandello to Varenna and then the quicker ferry back to Bellagio (made one other stop). Probably about the same travel time as getting there, but many more of the train/mid-lake ferry options than the direct, but meandering ferry.
View from my seat at my table. Just incredibly lovely spot!
first prosecco, I drank with amuse bouche which I don’t have a good picture of…
Second sparkling wine, much preferred by me, with the lobster. Explained by my waiter as being a contrast to the “sweetness” of the dish. Which it was, and incredibly enjoyable pairing. Glad I had drunk the first one down and had this with my lobster!
White wine (from Sicily), very minerally. Reminded me of some wines I’ve had from the Jura area of France, though not as weird as some of those can be (to me). I loved this wine, and drank it with my pasta dish.
Red wine (also from Sicily) with my turbot. I liked this as well. Cherry flavors are what struck me, but again, I don’t know anything about wine, except as I enjoy it!
I give this place a big thumbs up!
Your meal looks fabulous (so much lobster!) and the whole experience sounds like a wonderful adventure. Hope you post about your second lunch there!
Wonderful view! And nice selection of wines, especially curious about that sparkling wine…
Sounds like a fabulous experience!
That Franciacorta wine looks really interesting to me.
Thanks for posting!
Sorry to say, I didn’t make it back for my lunch. Weather (read: thunder/lightening) on the lake, and I didn’t feel comfortable getting on a boat, so I had to cancel. Still, I will be back, and will stay on that side of the lake, and visit again.
The Franciacorta wine was a mix of grapes: pinot noir, pino bianca and one other, maybe chardonnay. Sorry, I am not really conversant about wines, but I can tell you this one had a fuller taste than the first one, but still light and bubbly (obviously), not fruity, but not as minerally as the white wine that came after. Although sparkling wines are not really my thing (read: I know nothing about them and are often don’t really like them), this one was really very delicious.
I cannot stress enough how treatment of the solo traveler also really impacts a meal. When I didn’t make it across the lake yesterday, I had lunch in what looked like a nice, less touristy (not possible really here on Lake Como) restaurant in Bellagio. They sat me in a hallway outside of the kitchen facing a second entrance to the restaurant. I saw several couples and one solo traveler come in and get seated at actual free tables in the place, and they clearly had no reservations either. Along with the second entrance, I was in the section with refrigerated bottles and busing of glasses:
I said something when I left, about how awful a table that was, and the man said that kids and solo travelers usually enjoy watching the kitchen, and I should have asked for a different table. It has been my experience as a woman alone that asking for a better table gets grumbles and bad service, as it seems I am taking a table that can earn double for me alone. Still this particular restaurant could have accommodated me in a better spot. Restaurant La Dolce Vita had entirely mediocre food. I had some bruschetta and a spaghetti vongole. Fine, but I make better…
One other restaurant I went to here in Bellagio, Itturismo Melia also sat me a at a beautiful table with a window, facing the whole restaurant (which filled up after they seated me; we were all waiting in the rain for the restaurant to open up:
I had the lake fish sampler, a creamy pasta with smokey fish, and fish piccata main course, and a lovely torta for dessert. I had a bottle of white that I drank maybe half of, but prices were reasonable (compared to London, where everything seemed very, very expensive to me). Meal with everything included came to $80. It was a simple and delicious meal. The fish very fresh and well prepared. I particularly liked the fish mousse from the sampler plate.
Finally, but not least, I think coffee all over Italy is great, but the best macchiatos I had in Bellagio were in a little hole in the wall on the main shopping street, up from the lake front. It is a little ways up, past the main stores and next to a bakery (which I did not try). It is called “Art in Flower,” and looks very basic, no terrace seating. Didn’t get a picture inside because it was closed today (Sunday). But snapped an picture of the outside which for some reason isn’t loading, but will upload later.
On to Venice!
I often travel alone. I’m sorry this happened to you. While I have been lucky to have always been welcomed as a solo diner in Japan, Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, I was treated horribly twice on Kauai and once on Oahu.
It’s so shortsighted when a restaurant treats a solo diner as a lesser client.