Here at the Palazzo, we are blessed with a privileged lakeside location that gives guests easy access to the best of Lake Como’s cultural and culinary highlights. Some of the area’s loveliest locales are best accessed by boat (we presented these lake-view gems in a previous blog post!). For guests preferring to stay on “terra ferma” – or closer to their home away from home at the Palazzo, the celebrated Pearl of the Lario, beautiful Bellagio, is just down the road. Its cobbled streets, arched colonnades and staggering staircases are lined with boutiques, delicatessens and historical architecture (check out some of our favorite shops in this blog post!), but it is the town’s wide range of restaurants – from elegant osterias and traditional trattorias to wine bars and cute cafés – that keeps visitors and locals alike coming back to sample the area’s best food and wine. What makes a meal in Bellagio extra special is the opportunity to enjoy the views of lovely Lake Como. That’s why we decided to put together a list of the best restaurants with a view! There is quite simply nothing like sharing a meal over candlelight in a romantic restaurant overlooking the lake. The Palazzo staff is standing by to recommend the perfect spot for our guests and to make (sometimes hard-to-get!) reservations for a special meal in Bellagio.
Catering to discerning guests from across the world for almost 150 years, the Villa Grand Hotel Serbelloni is the grand dame among Bellagio hotels. Aristocrats from across the world, politicians from Churchill to Kennedy, celebrities from Clark Gable to Al Pacino have wandered these hallowed halls, marveling at its ornate décor and glittering Murano chandeliers, its botanic gardens with sub-tropical and Mediterranean flora and its vast lakeside terrace. Naturally, a hotel of this caliber would have an amazing restaurant, but the culinary magic that happens at Mistral under Executive Chef Ettore Bocchia is both deserving of its Michelin star and surprising – even at times confusing! – in its vivid tastes.
From its first-floor perch overlooking the pool and the lake beyond, the restaurant has floor-to-ceiling glass walls and a ruby red canopy that can both be retracted when the weather is fine. Diners are welcomed by Maître Carlo Pierato and his perennially professional staff and seated at elegant tables dressed in crisp white tablecloths. The menu is divided into a dizzying array of à la carte delights and two tasting menus, one “a mano libera di Ettore Bocchia” putting diners entirely in the chef’s capable hands for 7 surprise courses and the other “di cucina molecolare” with such miracles as crystal-clear, yet flavorful juices and light-as-air foams as well as the maestro’s famous “curdled eggs”, cuttlefish waffles and nitrogen-frozen ice cream (prepared tableside for effect!). But Bocchia promises never to “blind you with science”, guests are very welcome to dine more “traditionally” if they wish and still sample a molecular dish or two.
Despite all of the mysterious and marvelous things happening on the plate, the real star of a Mistral experience is the panorama. The gaze wanders from the flowering plants to the pleasure craft cruising by, from water seemingly studded with diamonds to the mountains across the lake. Lunch has the scenery drenched in sunlight, while dinner adds the charm of a sun setting slowly behind the hills and the lights starting to flicker in lakeside villages.
Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni Bellagio
Perched above the town with a bird’s-eye view of the stunning Lake Como landscape, Hotel & Restaurant Silvio is a family-run resort with a long history of gracious hospitality since it opened a century ago. Guests parking in the hotel parking lot or arriving with the convenient complimentary shuttle from the Bellagio ferry station are welcomed by the kind restaurant staff and seated either on the glassed-in terrace or under the vine-covered pergola. The Ponzini family is passionate about sharing the culinary traditions of the Lario with their guests, which means butter and cream from a Bellagio dairy, fresh-off-the-hook lake fish from the family’s professional angler Cristian, olive oil from Lenno and wine from the sun-kissed vineyards of nearby Domaso and Montevecchia. As if to underscore the local culinary traditions on your plate, the views across the terracotta roofs to the bright blue expanse of the lake beyond are quintessentially Bellagio.
Executive Chef Davide Angelini has put together a menu featuring Cristian’s daily catch as well as a variety of options for non-fish lovers like veal cutlets or handmade pasta with delectable meat, fish and vegetarian sauces. Two highlights of the menu are the “Sapori di Lario” appetizer featuring seven different fish-based bites to share or the “Ultan e Pendent” tasting menu with 10 different Lake Como specialties prepared according to the chef’s “fantasia”. Or opt for à la carte delights such as pappardelle pasta with local crayfish, ravioli with the local fish Italian nase, Lake Como pike crusted with pistachios and fresh-off-the-hook lavarello cooked to perfection on the grill. All of the bread and pasta are homemade on the premises, as are the delicious cakes and ice creams – if you manage to find room for dessert!
Via Paolo Carcano 12, Bellagio
The seemingly sharp point between the two southern branches of the lake is known as “La Punta” and occupies a unique position in the local geography, bordering as it does on all three branches of Lake Como. La Punta is also the name given to one of Bellagio’s most charming restaurants, which is – you guessed it! – located at the northern most point of the city. As you stroll there from the center of town, the narrow road is flanked by high walls and elaborate gates that hint at the gorgeous private villas and exclusive lakeside properties that lie behind them… Thankfully for us, La Punta lets us experience what it might be like to dine on the terrace of one of those great houses, not too far from the bustling town.
The restaurant opened in 1963 when young fisherman Bruno and his wife Gabriella decided to try their hand at lakeside hospitality. Over fifty years later, the couple’s three sons are continuing the family tradition, each in his own role: Massimo manning the kitchen, Andrea angling for the freshest lake fish and Gilberto going to great lengths to stock the cellar with delicious wines from Italy and France. The menu offers a pleasant mix of local delicacies and classic Italian favorites at exceedingly fair prices that won’t break the bank. Lake fish features widely, whether it is the Antipasto di Lago, the Spaghetti con Bottarga del Lago with local dried roe, or the daily catch served fried or grilled. If fish is not your bag, the veal and beef straight off the grill will hit the spot or opt for pasta dishes ranging from the regional (buckwheat “pizzoccheri” with garlic cheese sauce) to the traditional (lasagna alla Bolognese).
The terrace with its timber ceilings can be closed in during the colder season, while the open-air terrace has retractable canopies to provide shade from the relentless sun. The views seem to go on forever, extending over the “parchetto” with its leafy plane trees to the small harbor with its boats bobbing. This is, after all, Lake Como’s widest point and northern tip is 20 miles or so away. What will surprise you at La Punta is how extremely tranquil it feels, though it is by no means a secret spot. With little to no ambient noise from town or traffic, the lively conversations and laughter of the restaurant guests feel like a private party, and a post-dinner stroll through the park or on the pier feels like an undiscovered treat.
Ristorante La Punta
Via Eugenio Vitali 19, Bellagio
Alle Darsene di Loppia
The views from this classic Bellagio restaurant are second only to the views from the adjacent Giardini di Villa Melzi. In fact, the ideal way to get to Alle Darsene di Loppia is to stroll through the famous gardens, traversing its romantic bridge and ambling along its lakeside promenade. When you get to the family chapel at its southern most edge (stop in for a spell – if only to marvel at the amazing marble curtain framing Count Lodovico’s final resting place!), exit the park and head straight for the vine covered pergola to enjoy what promises to be one of your favorite meals in Bellagio. Alle Darsene di Loppia roughly translated means “by the Loppia harbor” and if you are lucky, you might glimpse one of Lake Como’s traditional Lucia boats at the water’s edge. The tables under the shade of the arbor are ideal whether sun or clouds, while the charming dining room behind the restaurant’s arched windows is cozy in the cooler months with a blazing fire.
Chef Matteo Gramatica offers menus that change with the seasons, serving dishes that are both familiar and strikingly modern: a bright green “plankton” risotto topped with scallops and mussels, handmade tagliolini pasta with Missoltini, red tuna tartare with guacamole ice cream, jumbo shrimp served with Agretti greens and creamy burrata or a venison hamburger on a bed of pea puree. Guests may want to try the great-value tasting menu for 50 euros, featuring Gramatica’s specialties that look almost as good as they taste.
Alle Darsene di Loppia
Via Francesco Melzi d’Eril 1, Bellagio (Frazione Loppia)
Just after the stairs known as the Salita Serbelloni in Bellagio, the town’s lakeside mile turns into a series of shaded colonnades overlooking the lake. The first stop on your right is Restaurant Suisse, the fine dining establishment of the adjacent Hotel Suisse – but this is much more than a “hotel restaurant”. There are elegant wicker chairs and crisp white tablecloths on the outside tables, while the separate dining room on the first floor shares the chic décor and the delicious menu. Diners rave about the Fettuccini Alfredo, prepared tableside in an actual wheel of parmesan, though the menu offers a wide variety of classic dishes, from risotto with strawberries and champagne (which is made from scratch and may take some time!) to veal Milanese and perfectly cooked steaks served with fresh truffles.
The welcome from the maître and his team is always warm in this family-owned and operated establishment and reservations made in advance might secure you a coveted front row table with those stunning views, whether you sit under the colonnades or on the upper deck. Depending on the time of day, you may enjoy watching ferry boats come and go or see locals and visitors alike strolling the promenade in their evening “passeggiata”. The real magic happens when the sun starts to set, the departing day-trippers make everything more tranquil and the candlelight flickers over your beautifully presented dishes.
Piazza Mazzini 8/10, Bellagio