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Connoisseur's Guide · Europe · italy · Lake Como · Top European Restaurants by Martins Ritins

Locanda dell Isola Comacina

Author: Mārtiņš Rītiņš0 COMMENTS

Locanda dell Isola Comacina

Visiting Comacina Island (Isola Comacina) is an amazing experience in any season. It boasts a unique past and has managed to preserve its authenticity till nowadays. The little island of Lake Como carries memories of numerous historical events - e.g., the war between Greeks and Goths, roaming of Burgundian tribes, and the time of the Bishop Agrippino of Como, buried here, too. For a brief period of time, Isola Comacina belonged to the king of Belgium, but soon was returned to Italy. These were stories told us by Benvenuto Puricelli, the owner of Locanda dell'Isola - the only restaurant one on the island. He is a man of great sense of humor, an amazing storyteller and a truehearted islander for 30 years. He welcomes his guests, dressed in a red, checked waistcoat and a funny woolen hat with a bob. The host meets us at the pier and leads into a spacious dining room with a huge fireplace - the largest one you would have ever seen. Big logs burn like sticks there. Copper frying pans adorn its front, and there stands a milk machine, which they use to separate cream and make cheese. Absolutely rustic settings with great respect for long standing traditions! Lots of showbiz stars and political luminaries haven't snubbed this place with oilcloth covered tables. Barbara Streisand, Elton John, Joe Cocker, Madonna are just few to be mentioned, and now it's our turn.

Foto: Locanda dell Isola ComacinaFoto: Locanda dell Isola ComacinaFoto: Locanda dell Isola Comacina

Don't expect any menu either - Locanda dell'Isola Comacina hasn't changed its serving habits for 30 years already. Five courses follow one another, and you just have to savor and enjoy.
Prelude of antipasti includes lightly boiled, fried or grilled vegetables (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, fried onions, paprika, beetroot, beans or other seasonal vegetables); Bresaola della Valtellina - smoked beef made in Locanda's own cellar, and Prosciutto Tipo Praga - air-dried beef, carved in paper-thin slices. Everything is sprinkled with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, adding a pinch of salt and pepper, and eaten with hot Italian bread, straight from the oven. It may seem enough for one meal, but an alluring aroma of fried trout, made on old-fashioned wood-burning stove already flows from the kitchen.
Fish come from Lake Como, and you can try your luck catching your own meal, which is an option as well. When ready, the delicious smelling fish is deftly cleaned right at your table. You can choose how much you would like to have, select a side dish of salads and again - add some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, the next course, Rottami di pollo in padella, is cooked! It is a whole free-range chicken, opened up and fried in an iron pot in pure olive oil. It has the crunchiest crust you have ever tried! Chicken are bred on the island, and I asked if one has to chase them in order to catch. The answer was that they actually follow you. The result is amazing - a rustic, frugal meal, yet so delicious!
After such a feast, it is time to enjoy a lovely stroll around the island. It's a paradise on earth with beautiful scenery, charming fishermen's houses, and a tiny Romanic-style church with a bell tower. It is easy to spend a whole day there, walking and enjoying food and wine. Just make sure that you go there on an empty stomach!
A huge wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese comes out next, after the two above mentioned courses. It weights 25kg, and a waiter carves big chunks that are served with wine. That's not all yet. It seems an ultimate gastronomic pleasure, but a dessert is still to come...
Fresh, sun-filled oranges, skillfully peeled and sliced, are served with ice-cream and banana liqueur.
The grand finale of this gastronomic performance is coffee! Benvenuto Puricelli brews it himself while telling legends about the island. Sugar and brandy goes into a heavy copper pot with a thick bottom. When blazes die down, he adds coffee. I never drink coffee with sugar, but this time I gladly made an exception. It was a truly memorable meal!
Well, this is the best place in the world to work, I thought. "I have one good and one bad news," I said to my host, Benvenuto. "The bad news is that your chef perhaps will fall into the lake tonight. But the good one - I can stay here to replace him! We all burst into laughter. Undeniably, Locanda dell'Isola made a huge impression on me.

22010 Ossuccio
Lago di Como

39 0344 55083-56755

Posted 04/2010

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