Ristorante Belvedere: A Gem on Lake Como

We set out for a lunch somewhere along Lake Como, knowing only that we wanted a view. After pulling into a few parking lots and then changing our minds, we climbed the hill towards the Monastery of Piona, following signs for Ristorante Belvedere – with that name, it had to have a view.

The Belvedere advertised fish as its specialty and, like most Italian restaurants, had a menu posted outside. I was at first confused by the strange prices, not rounded neatly off to the nearest euros.

€ 4.13 for a first course? Then I realized that the prices were also given in lire, printed alongside their exact conversion into euros. This appears to be the only restaurant in Italy which did not take advantage of the change to the euro to gouge its customers. Before the euro, 8,000 lire for a plate of pasta would have been considered middling-reasonable. When the euro came along, most restaurants simply lopped off the extra zeroes to arrive at 8 euros for the same dish, an extortion to which we consumers have meekly consented. Ristaurateurs claim that their costs have risen, but Ristorante Belvedere has somehow managed to keep prices low, without compromising on quality.

Although the specialty was fish, I had a starter of homemade liver paté – I can never resist paté – which was good, mild-flavored, and creamy in texture. For a first course I had home-made pumpkin gnocchi, whose slight sweetness contrasted nicely with the home-made pesto they were dressed with. I didn’t have a second course, but the rest of the party had fresh-caught lavarello (a white fish native to Lake Como), simply baked in the oven, and freshwater shrimp braised in butter, all good.

My dessert was something special: locally picked wild blueberries with ice cream. They were probably the best blueberries I’ve had in my life.

Between the four of us we had two appetizers, three primi (pasta), three secondi, two desserts, three coffees, water, wine (a good Soave served by the liter), and a Limoncello. The total cost was about €97 – cheap at the price! We’ll definitely be going back to the Belvedere. (And the view was indeed spectacular.)

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