Eating in Como
Eating in Como, 3 culinary worlds and 5 different restaurants
The territory of Como offers a splendid lake, mountains and southern prairies. Its culinary traditions reflect this variety with three distinct food cultures that are quite different from each other.
Its lake carries the heritage of a simple, popular cusine where fish is at the center, with missoltini, sun-dried ray-finned fish that is then grilled and paired with polenta; and pan-fried perch fillets that are ideal for pairing with flavorful risottos.
Then there are its valleys and mountains. Polenta is the staple around here, a local dish of rural tradition that goes with cold meats, mushrooms, cheeses. There is a plain or uncia version and then there is one variety better known as Toc. It requires an authentic ritual: sitting around a cauldron, diners take a wooden spoon and "touch" it in order to get a bite out of it. Once it is over, a particular kind of mulled wine known as Ragel, that has been brewed in the same pot as gthe polenta, is taken as a digestive.
Last but not least, the hills that go into Milan, its plains and the zone of the Brianza. A diverse territory that features an evident culinary influence from the regional capital, using meat as a main element. Try the cassoeûla, a dish made with pork, Savoy cabbage and a kind of tripe known as buseca.
We would like to mention a less-known dish that you should try nonetheless. The Rustisciada is a scrumptious beef stew from this land.
Ingredients for 4-6 people: 1 kg onions, 1 kg loin cut into 2 cm slices, 500 g sausage, beef broth, oil.
Brown the chopped onions in oil, add the meat, pour some ladles of broth and simmer over low heat for an hour and a half while stirring once in a while. Serve hot.
When it comes to eating in Como, let us recommend you the following 5 restaurants:
1. Il Crotto del Sergente, the last crotto in Como
"The last crotto in Como, witness of a centuries-old tradition of using natural mountain excavation as a storage for food and wine." This the reason why Il Crotto del Sergente has been put in the guide "Historic Places in Italy - special edition for the 150th anniversary of the Unification". This old engraved rock warehouse was transformed into an Osteria in 1880. Do not let its name and age fool you, this restaurant serves revisited local recipes, following a Slow Food® logic. Refined, modern cuisine that cares about the ingredients' seasonality and authenticity.
2. Antico Frate, 4 generations of Como cuisine
The Antico Frate was founded in 1893 at the premises of a former convent in the borough of San Martino in Como, where a soup made with onions, bacon and red wine was served. Much has changed ever since, including the location, but the restaurant is still managed by the descendants of the Corti family and offers authentic cuisine from Como, closely following tradition. This is why it has been labelled as a historic venue by the Lombardy Region. Its dishes include ossobuco, lake fish, polenta with seasonal game plus truffles and mushrooms.
3. La Locanda del Notaio: hotel and restaurant with a starred chef
In the Intelvi Valley, between Lakes Como and Lugano, at the small borough of Pellio a Michelin-Star restaurant shines. The Locanda del Notaio is located where the old Trattoria Piano delle Noci used to be. It was recently restored under the supervision of its owners, a theater coreographer and a lawyer, turning it into a 4 stars hotel proposing the creations of a young starred chef at the restaurant. Its menu blends innovation and tradition that follows seasons by combining different types of tasting expereinces in the territory.
4. La Madonnina di Barni, a balcony facing the lake
The notorious restaurant La Madonnina di Barni is located in a mountain terrace at almost 1000 meters above sea level, with an outstanding view of Lake Como. The Chef and the kitchen staff propose the finest delicacies of traditional Italian cuisine with particular attention to specialties from the Alpine area. There is a wide range of dishes with polenta, from the traditional variety and pot roast to more famous varieties, with missultin, perch or served in the uncia way.
5. La Cucina della Marianna: a non-democratic kitchen
At Cucina della Marianna the kitchen is non-democratic, since it is the cook who decides the menu, which changes every day depending on seasons, local produce, lake fish and cheeses that arrive directly from farms. Fresh products that need great passion in order to reinvent old traditional dishes by updating them according to modern times. If the menu is a surprise, the location is a certainty: we are in the center of the lake, with a vew of Bellagio and the Grigne in which the stone house where the Inn of Mrs Marianna was constructed in 1853, with a beautiful balcony facing the lake just off the road of Strada Regina.