The 10 Best Restaurants on Lake Garda, Italy

Photo of Luca Pinelli
9 February 2017

Lake Garda is located in northern Italy and is shared by three regions: Lombardy, Veneto, and Trentino-Alto Adige. It is one of the best known tourist attractions in the country and comprises many villages as well as excellent hotels, charming restaurants, fascinating monuments and historical buildings. Here are a few suggestions for dining on Lake Garda.

Lakeside | © Shaun Dunphyn/Flickr

Marco e Daniela Time

Restaurant, Italian, Fast Food, Mediterranean, European, Healthy, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-free
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Meat Dish at Gemme di Artemisia
Meat Dish at Gemme di Artemisia | Courtesy of Gemme di Artemisia

This small shop in Peschiera specializes in sandwiches and panini stuffed with various cheeses, vegetables, and sliced cold meat, such as ham, prosciutto, mortadella, and salami. It offers a perfect lunch or a quick dinner for visitors and undoubtedly showcases some essential characteristics of food in Italy. It perfectly summarizes what an Italian bottega is like: a little shop where people can go shopping or directly eat the fresh food that is on offer. Customers are served at a counter which is full of enticing foodstuffs and are generally seated in the midst of shelves displaying typical products for sale. The atmosphere is genuine, cozy, and simple.

Le Gemme di Artemisia

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Ristorante Esplanade
Ristorante Esplanade | Courtesy of Ristorante Esplanade
This restaurant offers five different fixed menus; “Vegan Meetings”, “Vivace”, “Amarone”, “Ef the Fusion”, and “A Gem”, all including different courses and high-quality, gourmet foods. Alternatively, you could opt for one of the four surprise tasting menus, which take patrons on a five or seven course culinary journey and include a bottle of exquisite wine. This restaurant specializes in seafood, both local and imported, but it does not neglect meat choices, as the carnivorous Amarone menu demonstrates. This includes home-made pasta filled with duck, small plum, and Valpolicella wine reduction, as well as rack of lamb with creamy green peppers, potatoes, and figs. And if you’re looking for something a little more exotic, Ef the Fusion will surely do the trick; a menu paying homage to Oriental cuisine.

Ristorante Esplanade

Restaurant, Italian, Seafood, Mediterranean, European, Continental, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-free, $$$
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Situated on the shoreline of the wonderful Lake Garda, this restaurant has been a household name in Desenzano for decades. Its menu embraces many different dishes, ranging from pasta to fish and meat, whilst keeping the quality of food and ingredients extremely high. There are also set menus on offer for customers up for a special treat. This makes it the perfect choice for an extravagant evening with loved ones, not to mention a fine way to see the waters of the lake up-close-and-personal. Oh, and their Michelin star speaks volumes too!

Bruschetteria Nose

Restaurant, Italian, Mediterranean, European, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free, $$$
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This restaurant specializes in bruschetta (plural: bruschette), a flat-bread that is covered with various ingredients, herbs and extras. Whether you’re looking to sate your appetite for Italian food or just want to swing by during a leisurely stroll on the lakeside, this bruschetteria will offer hand-picked combinations which do well to showcase Mediterranean cuisine at its best. The owners are more than happy to help customers with the menu and can recommend combinations that are best suited to their individual palates. A series of organic beverages and hand-crafted beers are also on the menu.

Osteria al Pescatore

Restaurant, Seafood, Mediterranean, Italian, $$$
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This cozy little place on the lake is owned by Livio and Rosaria, a couple who have spent their lives in the region. They are experts when it comes to the fish of the lake and how to cook them properly. There is no set menu, because everything that is served here depends on what’s been caught that morning. This guarantees the freshness and authenticity of the dishes on offer throughout the year. They have also published several volumes on the cuisine of Lake Garda – so come expecting the best!

La Veranda del Color

Restaurant, Italian, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-free
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This restaurant is part of the Color Hotel in Bardolino. In 2013 it was included in the Michelin Guide, and it offers a ‘design cuisine’ aiming to satisfy both the eye and the mouth. All the dishes served here are created with color or other aesthetic features in mind, binding the ingredients, flavors and appearance of each plate together harmoniously. Alongside classics such as carbonara, you can enjoy a red-dominated plate of fusilloni with red mullet, red peppers and olives, while the menu also comprises a series of gluten-free options which appeal with their creative additions and ingredients.

Al Cardellino

Restaurant, Italian, Mediterranean, European, Vegetarian, Gluten-free, $$$
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A restaurant which has been owned by the same family since 1977, Al Cardellino is both elegant and rustic and features a wonderful garden where customers will find the perfect atmosphere for candle-lit dinners. Amongst the specialities are black truffles, home-made pasta, an extensive selection of quality wines, fresh-water fish with sauce and polenta, and peaches and cherries in syrup. The restaurant also offers a delightful view of Lake Garda as well as hospitality for short and long stays alike.

Pizza per Caso Le Quattro Coppe

Pizzeria, Restaurant, Italian, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-free, $$$
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Il Re della Busa
Il Re della Busa | Courtesy of Il Re della Busa and Lido Palace
This restaurant is part of a bigger building which functions as a B&B. It offers pizza ‘al tagliere’: larger pizzas served on a round wooden chopping board. The ingredients are all locally sourced and the choice is diverse, enabling customers to have a pizza with toppings to fit their tastes perfectly. These pizzas are best enjoyed when accompanied by one of the regional wines offered by the drinks menu, while gluten-free pizza dough can be requested at ordering.

Il Re della Busa

Restaurant, Seafood, Italian, Mediterranean, European, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-free, $$$
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Bardolino | © Ştefan Jurcă/Flickr
This restaurant is run by the Michelin-starred Executive Chef Giuseppe Sestito and is part of Lido Palace, a refined and long-established hotel in Riva del Garda. It serves both sea and lake fish dishes accompanied by a selection of delightful wines. It features a terrace where customers are invited to have candle-lit dinners whilst admiring the beautiful garden of the hotel and the swimming pool below. The cuisine is traditional, with a particular focus on local food and wine whilst at the same time endeavoring to be creative and worldly at every turn.

Ritmo DVino

Bar, Contemporary, $$$
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This bar features a very trendy and atypical interior and offers a series of pre-dinner drinks, such as different sorts of Spritz – a classic Italian mix of Prosecco and soda. Expect a complementary dish of nibbles with every tipple, along with an extensive counter buffet for something more substantial. There is also live music every night to spice up the evenings in Ritmo DVino just a little bit more!