Stresa on Lake Maggiore (or within 30km drive) - 2 NYC foodies need restaurant recommendations
We will be staying in Stresa for 4 days/nights at the end of September. Can anyone recommend some great places for lunch and dinner? The less touristy the better! We already made a dinner reservation at a three-star restaurant for dinner one night, so we don't want to spend ridiculous amounts on these other meals. Just good, solid, medium priced (not "special occasion") places.
Thanks for your help!
Oleggio is a cute hill town a short drive from the lake, and there is a wonderful osterie in the middle of town, Il Gatto e La Volpe (Via Nebulina 22, 0321 998256, closed Saturday evening and Sunday). Reasonably priced. I would recommend for lunch and its also quite close to the airport for a last supper in Italy. If you like fine dining and don't mind to pay, Villa Crespi close to Orta San Guilio is highly rated in all the guide books (and by some of our gourmet guests).
Villa's idea is a great one - we actually tried this a couple of years ago, booked a hotel in Oleggio (yes, a nice old town) a couple of years ago with a thought of having our last supper at Il Gatto e La Volpe - but when we walked over, it was all booked up. So, for heaven sakes, if this becomes your plan, reserve ahead,
Last spring when my husband had a meeting in Milano we went to both Villa Crespi and Al Sorriso and loved both. They are very different, both great. Sorriso is essentially family run, smaller, and more tranquil. I don't think we even bothered with lunch. But I'm sorry that doesn’t answer your question.
I enjoyed eating at L'Idrovolante in Stresa, which requires a walk away from the touristy core of Stresa, down the lakefront promenade, toward Baveno. Stick to simple dishes. The food is homey, and inexpensive. The ambience is jazzy, youthful and informal. Much of Stresa is given over to bus coach tourism, and my experience is that the tour bus tourists eat dinner at their hotels as part of the package, and tend to colonize the touristy core piazza of Stresa for lunch. L'Idrovolate is quite near the cable car that goes up into the mountains, so it gets more tourists at lunch than at dinner.
I had one of the worst meals I have ever had in Italy at Hotel Verbano on the Isola dei Pescatori. I often see this restaurant recommended by others, and perhaps my bad meal was due to a wedding party consuming the attention of the kitchen, but I vividly recall glancing about at other tables and seeing a lot of unhappiness with the food.
I don't know what you consider "ridiculous" when it comes to a restaurant tab, but when I've checked out eating at Villa Crespi and Al Sorriso, I couldn't afford it!
Isola dei Pescatori
No, Bee, it was not due to the wedding party. This kind of Restaurant, as many others in Italy, merrily rely on an attractive/unique location. They don’t trouble themselves much with annoying aspects such as excellence or at least quality. They do not suffer competition. There will always be tourists coming there.
L'Osteria Il Gatto e la Volpe is a great suggestion.
It is within 40 km drive, travelling time depends on the road you choose (Strada Statale or A26 Highway). Definitely book ahead!
Via Fava, 8
Orta San Giulio (Novara)
tel. 0322 911902
Around 180 Euro/pax wine included
It is very far from being solid, medium priced, not "special occasion" place.
Italian innovative cooking.
Around Stresa you could try
RIFUGIO GRAN BAITA AL MOTTARONE (Mottarone is a mountain)
Località Mottarone - Stresa
Tel 0323 924240
You can go up by the - narrow - road, but the cable car is ideal.
On the Mottarone top, a clear day, you'll enjoy a beautiful view on 4 lakes and Monte Rosa.
Family run place, simple ambience, solid Piedmont's specialities fixed menu.
Around 25 Euro/pax for a full course - solid - lunch.
Crowded at weekends.
I would suggest the Ristorante San Giovanni, which is about 2 km from Stresa southbound (before Belgirate). It is just up the main road, with a terrace overlooking the lake and the isles. It has parking facilities. It is run by the same family since 1968, and me being now 40 I remember stopping there now and then on my way to Monte Rosa.
I stayed there last time 2 weeks ago after some 4 years missing, menu is always classic in its way with lake fish and possibly mushrooms in this season.
We spent about 50 euros in total for 2 courses (antipasto and secondo), water and wine.
Another suggestion is the Trattoria Monterosso, on top of the hill over Verbania Pallanza. Good "agriturismo" style f&B and great views over the lake. Disturbing road to get there (and more on the way back, after the binge): 20 minutes of hairpin bends!
re: Kadath Dragon
I strongly have to second Kadath on Trattoria Monterosso. We went there a week ago and I have to say this is really an experience you should not miss. Restaurant is rustic, homey and solid, certainly nothing fancy. But the experience of GOING THERE! This must have been the steepest, bendiest road I have ever driven. If you drive up there at night it will be a thrilling experience and the food is a nice reward afterwards. We had a very solid St Valentine's dinner there, full range of courses, flowers for the female guest and all drinks included for EUR 30. Hard to beat this anywhere in the region.
I'd also thoroughly recomend the pizzeria called Taverno Pappagallo. It's right in the middle of Stressa so looks a bit touristy but the Pizza'a were top notch and comparable to most of what I ate in Rome and Naples. Not sure what non Pizza savouries are like there although we did indulge in the deserts which were laid out on a desert table so it was hard to resist.
Went to Stresa today but unfortunately Taverno Pappagallo is closed on Wednesdays. Then drove a short distance to San Giovanni but just our luck that it was closed also (not sure if for good or for the day). Ended up at Stresa town and found one restaurant open: Ristorante di Piemontese. Surprisingly good if not slightly more expensive than I was prepared to pay for lunch today (Eur80 for one appetizer, 2 pastas, a dessert, 2 glasses of Barolo and water/cover, for 2). Hearty traditional fare of vitello tonato, a ravioli del plin and gnocchi.