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Monday, March 29, 2010

Lake Como Lunch

The island of Comacina in Lake Como is cursed. Possibly because some participants in the Fourth Crusade, which destroyed Byzantium, deployed from there; possibly because of inter-city state rivalries in the middle ages. In any event, for more than 50 years, the Locanda restaurant has been redeeming the island’s history.

The Isola Comacina is a tiny island in Lake Como, one of the most stunning spots anywhere. The boat ride to the island is part of the process of slowing down and enjoying the view. There are water taxis available or you can splurge and rent a boat for the day. Mr. Wonderful and I usually rent a boat at our hotel in Cernobbio and take the long, leisurely, and gorgeous ride to the island. Part of the fun is looking at the villas lining the shore and wondering who lives there.

Enjoy the Locanda restaurant by sitting on the terrace under the trees and looking at the shore. The building itself and the interior remind me of a no frills Alpine lodge – only good if it rains. The menu is the same every day, you have no choice in the matter, and the portions are generous. Accept these basics and enjoy. Lunch starts with sparkling mineral water, fresh crisp crusted bread, and a half tomato served with a slice of lemon and olive oil. Then come at least a half dozen roasted vegetables, including whole onions, red peppers, broccoli sprinkled with olive oil. This course is followed by broiled trout, and then a pan roasted chicken. Next, the owner or a waiter brings a half of a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano and cuts chunks directly onto your plate. Finally, when you think you can eat no more, you find out that you can and begin to enjoy creamy rich vanilla gelato with peach slices and peach liqueur drizzled over the top. Meanwhile, you realize you’ve had at least a bottle of the light white wine they serve without measuring milligrams and your head still feels fresh and clear. After a coffee, it’s back to the boat, which now sits lower in the water, and time for the long ride home.

The Locanda is casual and welcoming. On any given day, there are families with children at one table, young couples at another, and groups of friends of various ages, shapes and sizes. The service is unpretentious and fast, the portions are huge.
A confession: the first time we were there, I think our heads were not entirely fresh and clear. As we approached our hotel dock, Mr. Wonderful suggested we go a little further and see the shoreline of city of Como. Nearing the harbor of Como, he noticed two parallel lines of buoys marking a short channel. “That’s a sign to keep the boat inside the lines of bouys,” he said telling me that he’d learned this boating rule during winters in Florida.  For a minute, it seemed he was correct … until the seaplane landing over our shoulders blew our hats off. Oops! Thankfully, the only downside to this feat of navigation was feeling rather silly.


  1. Jasmina, I love your posts! So eloquent and vibrant; I can almost smell and taste the scents and flavors of the day! Still searching for the chocolate cake recipe, but enjoying discovering the other posts! A joyous journey!

  2. Just saw this comment. Thank you!

    As for a cake with chocolate, I wrote about one in June in the post called "Cake from a Princess" at http://eastofparis.blogspot.com/search/label/Chocolate


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