Il Capriolo: A Wonderful Restaurant in an Italian Alpine Village

Saturday Enrico and I were restless and decided to go for an outing. We visited the abbey at Piona (a small town at the northern end of Lake Como), then headed up the mountain. We had a booklet listing restaurants in the province of Lecco, including one more or less in the area where we were. Turned out we hadn’t looked closely enough at the details – it was way up the mountain at 1100 meters, and took quite a while to reach over a narrow, twisty mountain road. We had to call several times for directions and to ask how long the trip should take, and we almost turned back several times.

But Il Capriolo turned out to be worth the trip. For primo, we shared a dish of gnocchi (potato dumpling pasta) with sweet gorgonzola cheese – creamy and rich with just a hint of gorgonzola sharpness. For secondo, we had the local buckwheat polenta, with generous portions of three different kinds of meat: brasato (braised) beef, spezzatino di vitello (small pieces of veal) with porcini mushrooms, and pork loin cooked with pancetta (bacon). The brasato was good, almost black on the outside from long, slow cooking in red wine. The other two meat dishes were even better, each with just enough gravy to add flavor to the polenta.

For dessert we had panna cotta (“cooked cream”) with a warm berry compote (see the video). All this, plus over half a litre of the house wine (a more-than-decent Cabernet), came to 40 euros for the two of us – cheap at the price!

Il Capriolo is also the local hangout for the inhabitants of this tiny mountain village, so there were people playing cards, watching TV, reading the newspaper, and a father came in with his kids to buy popsicles.

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