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Living a big city life is tough (for further info on how tough it is, please turn to the good old ‘Big City Life’ song by Mattafix). Some days we are tired and run down by the chase, and even worse, some days we feel like we have already seen it all (which in this city couldn’t be more untrue, but we can’t help it).
We feel your pain all to well. As a result, we’re following up on our selections of the best restaurants with a garden in Milan and in its outskirts. This time, we are taking you further away to the marvellous beauty of long out-of-the-city road trips, to uncover hidden treasures. AKA, the best summer restaurants out of town, amongst all shades of green and the most breathtaking views.
Summer is the reason our entire spirit is longing, even for a few hours, to just be a tourist in the best sense of the word. We long to lose the dead weight of routine and duties, and replace it with the ones we love instead. And finally, dwell on that sweet feeling of having no idea what is about to happen in the next instant, because everything around is a new land where your wandering feet have never stepped before.
So hang up on your grumpy boss (just kidding, don’t actually), buckle up and enjoy the ride.
LUCE RISTORANTE – VILLA PANZA
Piazza Litta 1, Varese
To those of us who wish to fly high over mundane errands and feel like a king, how about a dinner at a sophisticated 18th century Villa Panza? You’ll be as relaxed as a monarch at their summer Varese residence. Here at Michelin-featured Ristorante Luce, you can choose what to have for lunch from the bistrò menu available, in the shade of a marvellous English garden decorated with ancient statues and fountains. Alternately, you can have a romantic dinner at tables for two among blooming flowers. You will be served masterpieces prepared with the highest quality ingredients from the villa’s garden, by a rising star in Italian gastronomy, the renowned Matteo Pisciotta (whom you can also watch working in the open kitchen!). Keep indulging your royal spirits and digest your meal exploring the surrounding 33.000 square meter park, full of romantic corners. If you’re a fan of modern art, be sure to visit the Villa exhibitions!
Via Roma 1, Gallarate
“An idea of a dish is not enough, we must take it further, in a way to satisfy the olfactory, visual and gustatory senses” – surprisingly few words are needed to express a philosophy that earns you a Michelin star. Or at least, if you make it happen the way Ilario Vinciguerra does, reading between the lines of haute cuisine while creating a dream of an experience for his guests. Everything down to the last detail communicates passion, refined aesthetic, and just the right balance between tradition and innovation. Choices for every occasion are available, including a Green Kitchen menu with lots of surprises. And needless to say, tasting these intense flavors for even a second might make you forget that you’re in an elaborate private garden of a luxurious Art Nouveau villa. Already dialing their number to make your reservation? We thought so.
Via Trento e Trieste 63, Carate Brianza
On a road trip, watching endless fields blending with the sky and passing by, you arrive at an old, isolated farmstead, nestled among oaks and elms of the Parco della Valle del Lambro. Welcome to Camp di Cent Pertigh. The place breathes the Lombard countryside, speaking its dialect, with old stories of wisdom still resonating in its walls and reflected in warm candlelight illuminating its charming garden. Here, seated on hay bales and cotton cushions, take a good look at the menu of exquisite Lombard dishes by Chef Daniele Caleffi and his team. The wine menu pulls from all corners of the planet. Just relax, letting your every wish be their command. It will be an experience that is truly one of a kind.
CROTTO DEI PLATANI
Via Regina 73, Brienno
Encrusted in the rocks of Lake Como like a diamond, Crotto dei Platani is exquisite and equally luxurious. Here, as soon as your nose gets a glimpse of a gorgeous fruity passion flower scent, your breath will be taken away by the stunning view of the lake. It unfolds from an open terrazza and is elegantly framed with Como flora of all shades of green. What more could you ask for while savoring signature dishes from a creative chef Andrea Cremonesi? Actually, we have an idea. Take a romantic walk on the small pier, for a special and intimate moment. Shh, don’t tell anyone – it’s a secret!
Via Imbarcadero 3, Lierna
In Lierna, a tiny antique fishing village of Como, you will come across Sottovento (‘Under the wind’). Here there is a touch of minimal chic within the peaceful refuge. The team of the owner, Ignazio Gnecchi, and Chef Ivan Bartesaghi, will make you feel at home, offering simple yet sophisticated Larian traditional cuisine. Dine on freshly made pasta and risottos, and, of course, seafood. And just like that, over a bottle of Brochet-Hervieux, seated outside on the luxurious cushions amongst soft candlelight, you will forget all your daily woes. Just let the wind gently play with your hair and take your thoughts far, far away.
Via Paolo Carcano 10/12, Bellagio
Looking at a mirror-like water surface, you take a bite of boiled fish and it’s so juicy and fresh it must have been swimming just a few hours ago. In Ristorante Silvio, managed by the fifth generation of Ponzini family since 1919, this happens every day. Here, while enjoying such local specialties as cagnon rice (with parmesan, sage, lemon juice and golden perch), or Missoltini (shad fish salted, dried in the sun and pressed for six months according to the traditional recipe), you will admire the view of the lake from high up. Here, natural light plays with luxurious interior finishings. Ready to take your relationship with this heavenly place to the next level? Stay in the hotel upstairs and rent a boat, or immerse yourself in the Como waters at a private beach in the morning.
Piazza Martiri della Libertà 1, Novara
Haven’t been to the theater in a long time? Consider a spectacle of haute cuisine, whose flavors are mind-blowingly intense, and whose spectacular presentation is perhaps more impressive than a lot of actual shows. Cannavacciuolo Café, created and named after one of the Masterchef Italia judges, and located in the historic Teatro Coccia in Novara, will give it to you in the most theatrical way possible. You can start with an ‘overture,’ continue with a ‘musical’ or ‘opera’ and sweeten it up with a light ‘ballet’ (have you guessed it? these intriguing names correspond to appetizers, firsts and seconds, and desserts). You will be seated in a luxurious terrace with a spectacular view of the piazza, watching Neapolitan (Neapolitan ragu) or traditional Northern Italian dishes (Fassona beef tartare) take turns as the stars of your dinner table. And in case you don’t feel like dressing up for a big night (i.e. fancy dinner), grab a casual dessert or aperitif in the downstairs café and pastry shop. Whatever you choose, the food might be the best you have ever tried. Well worth a standing round of applause!
Via De Gasperi 31, Montesiro di Besana Brianza
“Once you’re in the woods of Brianza, bushy and dense, a field of twelve hectares of land will open in front of your eyes. There’s green and blooming meadows, an orchard and a vegetable garden, overflowing with fruits and vegetables of every kind. You’ll spot cows, horses, ponies, pigs, and donkeys all grazing free. Amongst it all, there is an old farmhouse-turned-restaurant dating back to the early nineteenth century. Make a reservation ahead of time and let warm colors and scents of hay, fire, and wood surround you as you experience a typical menu from this area, with dishes made with love, using “0km” farm products.”
Via Galbusera Nera 2, La Valletta Brianza
“Arriving at the old barn of the Azienda Agricola La Costa, now the Galbusera Nera restaurant in the Lecco province, you realize that the night will be full of surprises. Let’s step back in time, before embarking on this adventure. We are back in 1992. Giordano Crippa, thanks to his huge love for the Brianza district, buys the ancient ruins of the Cascina Scarpata and the annexed territories in a breathtaking location . This is an investment that will lead his family to live a rural adventure that is creative and bound by a passion for slow food. Sit back and let Chef Marco surprise you. Order one of his tasting menus or choose one of his creations à la carte. The result? Unexpected, and able to satisfy the aesthete in you.”
Via Alcide de Gasperi 12, Ambivere
Prepare to travel back in history at the domain of the Visconti family since 1932, at their Trattoria in the Bergamo countryside. You will be warmly greeted by the team of Maria Fiorella Visconti, and offered an exceptionally high-class service. They really show that they care, with such warm touches as taking your jacket or helping you select your wines. Don’t forget to ask them about the amazing history of this place. You will be proudly taken on a compelling journey of victories and hardships. There is a pride of three generations engraved in these walls in the form of historic objects. Needless to say, the food is deeply rooted in family tradition, with such gems as Grandma Ida’s ravioli or the bollito with seven kinds of meat. Enjoy your summer dinner in the open air, and then relax on the back porch, still taking in the ancient magic of this hidden refuge.