Foodie Destination on Lago Maggiore?
My husband and I will be leaving from MXP, and we're looking to spend maybe a day or two on Lago Maggiore. We're both Italian and we love regional food. Any great meal that we should not miss to pick a town instead on another?
I've never eaten or stayed at Al Sorriso not far from Malpensa (I believe the town is Borgomanero) but it has a couple of Michelin stars, and rooms if you want to stay there. I imagine it costs a fortune. But if you were staying on Lago Maggiore or Lago d'Orta with a car, you might want to have lunch there.
Another highly recommended restaurant in the area is Il Gatto e La Volpe in Oleggio, which is quite close to Malpensa. It doesn't have rooms, but there are perfectly good hotels in Oleggio.
Most people staying on Lago Maggiore in order to reach Malpensa stay on the west side of the lake because it's the easier shot to the airport. I've stayed in Stresa and found the food throughout the tour-bus loaded town pretty poor. I especially disliked a meal I had on the Isola dei Pescatori in the middle of the lake at a very pretty albergo ristorante called Verbena. It still lives in my mind as one of the 3 worst meals I've ever eaten in Italy.
I've never been to Lago d'Orta, but I have heard the main hotel (a 3*) and restaurants there are good, and the lakeside is more charming than Stresa. I would also point out that you don't have to go very far into Piemonte to find legendary risotto in towns like Novara and Vercelii, the latter being an important art town as well. That's a slightly longer drive to Malpensa in the morning, so it depends on how early your flight is.
Even if you choose to stay at a foodie destination, the Isola di Madre, the furthest out of the three easy-to-reach Borromean islands in Lago Maggiore, is really very lovely to stroll about. If you like hikes and views, there is a funicular that ascends into the mountains in Stresa, and at the bottom of the funicular, at a lake dock, there is a hip trattoria whose fare is strictly homemade and erratic, but the deck on the lake and the casual feel of the bar, away from the most touristed parts of Stresa, is enjoyable on a pretty day.
A post last summer claimed Al Sorriso (halfway between Orta and Borgomanero) had 3 stars. Also, Villa Crespi is 2 stars. They are near and at Lago d'Orta, over the hill from Lago Maggiore. I enjoy the drive from the north end of Maggorie, but you can drive from Stressa right over the mountain if you have the guts. I've only taken the cable car to the ski area on top in the winter, but the drive looks like fun.