Monday, September 23, 2013
9:59 AM | Dana Kaplan, Stresa Sights | Edit Post
When two dear friends visited Stresa this summer, their first time here, I took my own advice and showed them a 'Golden Day' in Stresa. Modified the version in the link a bit to suit our own needs, but we kept many elements. We began our day leisurely with cappuccini and brioche at Gigi Bar. Then, instead of taking the ferry, we made a very special day of it and hired a private water taxi for the day. We chose to do this so that we could make a little detour, a little bit more of our time on the lake and we did a drive-by (float-by?) of Santa Caterina del Sasso, stopping for as long as we wanted, and from as many angles as we wanted, to take photos. Then, back to Isola Bella, tour of the palace, walkabout all over the island. Our taxi came just moments after I placed the phone call for it, and brought us across the water to Isola dei Pescatori, where we had lunch plans. And THAT is what I want to tell you about today ... our lunch at Ristorante Belvedere.
The above photo is from their own website, and shows the 'back' of the restaurant, taken from in the lake. Water taxis and the ferries make their stops on the other side of the island, so it's a bit busier, nosier, kiosk-filled on that side. But enter the restaurant from there and walk through, and it is like entering another world. I've been here before, and knew what to expect, but it was nice to see the pleasure on my friends' faces with their first look.
We arrived at the end of the lunch rush; the outdoor terrace, covered by a ceiling of umbrellas, was still fairly full. Having reserved, we were so fortunate to have a perfect table at the edge of the terrace. overlooking the lake. Service, from the moment we arrived, was fantastic. Attentive, friendly, elegant but never stuffy.
( continued ... )
We ordered water and white wine, a Gavi... We were never rushed, and we enjoyed every moment of our relaxing lunch. The menu is heavy on local lake fish. There is a 'tourist' lunch offered, a set-priced meal consisting of a starter, a fish dish, and a dessert. The deal was good at 20 euro, but, as none of us wanted two plates, we opted to order pastas individually, choosing three different ones from the menu. And all three were superb. We know this because we each tried all of them. Each had distinct flavors, different types of fresh pasta, and ample servings. Here are photos of all three of them:
What a lovely spot for a lunch. Oh... I want to say a word about the 'tourist' lunch. In my opinion, it should be called something else; perhaps just a prix-fixe, three-course lunch, lunch special... something like that. I feel that calling it a 'tourist' lunch gives the wrong impression, that somehow it is a special, easy lunch for tourists. Because, to be fair, practically everyone dining at this restaurant is a tourist. Little Isola dei Pescatori has approximately 50 full-time residents, and it's unlikely they are here. As with the other restaurants on the islands, one doesn't need to feel uncomfortable being a tourist here. .... Now, back to the view. Dining on this terrace is so charming. It is quiet, as already mentioned the island's activity is on the other side. The activity here was birds, boats, and people walking out onto the partly submerged little cement dock.
Wisely, I left room for dessert. Belvedere's signature dessert is this lemon cake. The photo cannot do this enough justice. It is moister than you may imagine, sweeter than it seems, just the right amount of lemony, and I can't even describe how delicious that cream sauce was.
As we were leaving the restaurant we were able to thank the owner, Paco, for the wonderful lunch. Paco's family has owned this restaurant for generations, and the care, respect for history, and pride really show. Paco generously offered to show us around a little. Belvedere is also a small boutique hotel, with eight charming rooms with views to die for. Maybe you recall when it was voted one of the Top Ten Most Romantic Hotels in the World by Trip Advisor. His assistant Elleny showed us one of these rooms, with its stunning private terrace. Then, while leaving, a small hidden restaurant terrace, if you can imagine, even quieter and more romantic than where we ate. This terrace was near the back entrance to the restaurant/hotel. Down a few steps and under the metal arch, one is now on the back, beachy side of the island, where it is lovely to walk along the perimeter. There were flower boxes lining the stairs; they contained a fragrant mix of peach-colored roses and mint.
We then strolled all over this tiny island, calling our water taxi only when we had thoroughly covered every charming little alley and corner of it. Definitely, a Golden Lunch on another perfectly Golden Day in Stresa.
via di Mezzo, Isola dei Pescatori, Stresa, 28838
+39 (0)323 32292
Here's the website to check for hours, or to make reservations: www.belvedere-isolapescatori.it/Inglese
It also has a page with some interesting information about the island.
photos all property of stresasights or ristorante belvedere
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- Important Train Information
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- If You Have Only One Day in Stresa
- Top Ten Things to See in Stresa
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- Train Service from Malpensa to Stresa and Milano
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