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Feb 15, 2013 04:17 PM

"Special" dining experience at Lake Como

I will be visiting Lake Como, staying in Varenna, at the end of April and we will be celebrating my husband's birthday while there. I'm looking for an interesting, unique restaurant. It doesn't have to be posh and expensive. In fact, I'd like to keep it around 200 euros (for both of us). We will have a car so it doesn't have to be in Varenna. I would even consider Lugano if there was something really interesting there.
If there no interesting or unique restaurants to be had then suggestions for someplace nice would be gratefully accepted too.

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  1. I'm not sure if at the end of April it will be warm enough to get the very best experience of Crotto di Pino, which is its open terrace, and probably for lunch, but it also has indoor seating with panoramic views. It is tucked above the tiny town of Pino, which is about 15 minutes south of Varenna. It specializes in grilled fish and meat, including game, from a large outdoor grill.

    It was some years ago that I ate there, but my recollection of the food is that it was extremely homey, and even a bit uneven for being so homey, but I had a good time. Since we didn't have a car, the gracious owner drove us home. It was absolutely a family run place, with his sons manning the grills, and they spent their days building terraces because they wanted to have their own herb and vegetable garden. I'm not sure they had been open all that long when we were there.

    Still, I never see it mentioned in current guides....

    Also, just so you know, it is at least a 90 minute drive to get back from Lugano, so even if you track down an ideal restaurant there, dinner might not be optimal since you would face such a long drive back on somewhat demanding roads.

    For a change of pace from lakeside views (although they are mesmerizing), I might try to track down someplace inland and east, using a slow food guide, where I'd be hoping for modest prices, local cuisine and a decidedly untouristy atmopshere. (Sorry I don't have a recommendation!)

      1. I posted this question a month ago and never even saw the replies as we had some issues which placed our trip in jeopardy and I took a break from planning.
        So now we are back on (hopefully to stay) and I'm back to looking for the perfect spot for my husband's 60th birthday dinner.
        I neglected to mention that it was on a Monday and that seems to limit us too.
        I am considering Il Caminetto. How about Isola Comacina? I've read some DREADFUL reviews but also a few really good ones and it sounds like the whole experience might compensate for what's lacking in cuisine. That said, I don't want it to be inedible and some of the reviews make it sound as if would be the case.