You are in one of the most exclusive locations on Lake Como, on top of the grand cypress trees staircase alongside the beautiful gardens of Villa Melzi and the small church of Santa Maria di Loppia. As you seek shelter from the summer heat in the shade of the pergola, entirely covered with vines, a stunning view of the famous Como branch will open in front of you. And then you can’t do anything else but sit on the terrace – as enraptured by the enchantment of the place – and wait for the menu. You are at the Silvio Restaurant, at number 10-12 of Via Paolo Carcano, in Bellagio.
Run by the Ponzini family since 1919, in addition to the restaurant in question, there is also a hotel, several summer houses, a beach and even a boat available to guests. The mission of Ponzini? That of spreading the wine and food Lariana culture of course, to hold high the name of Lake Como. It is with this intent that the restaurant Silvio was conceived: known among the locals (and not only) for its specialties based on fish, to be precise, of fish from Lake Como. Cristian, the professional fisherman, is the one who guarantees the everyday local origin, freshness and seasonality of the catch, which will arrive in a few hours on your perfectly set table at Silvio restaurant. Everything around you is absolutely impeccable: predominantly white and light colours, antique pink tips give to the environment, with clean lines and simple, that bon ton touch. The space plays with transparencies, to give light and breath to the marble, the steps and the historical prestige finishes.
The cuisine is strongly linked to the Lariana tradition, it has been for five generations. Typical and simple dishes but that will be remembered. Their forte? The rice with lake perch or whitefish of course, depending on the catch of the day, prepared as the local historical recipe wants: the rice is cagnon (boiled and seasoned with parmesan cheese, lemon juice, butter and sage) and served with golden perch fish fillets or whitefish. Another famous dish is the homemade ravioli, filled with the day’s catch and served with the butter of the Bellagio Dairy and crispy sage. Or the Toc – yellow cornmeal polenta (still stone ground in the mill of Bellagio!) cooked on the hearth and creamed with butter and low-fat cheese always from the local dairy – which is served with Missoltini (fresh shad fish, salted, dried in the sun and pressed for six months as per tradition) then grilled and sprayed with Lenno oil and vinegar. One love, for the lariano fish, which brings the Ponzini family to arrange for its guests periodical guided tours in the kitchen, as well as in the laboratory where they prepare the fish. If you wish, you can also follow the fishermen during the laying or the recovery of the nets.
And the wine list? It stands out for its quality, with notorious and all Italian labels. And if the Lariano mood wins you over, you can choose one of the wines from the consortium Terre Lariane IGT, as the white Domasino wine produced by the Sorsasso farm or a Solesta wine by La Costa farm, and many others.
So cheers, ladies and gentlemen! To Lake Como and its rich and thriving food and wine culture.