Forty kilometres of Lake Maggiore’s shore lies in Swiss territory and towns like Ascona, Brissago and Vira are marvellously located on the water’s edge. One of the most enjoyable ways of experiencing this region is by tasting the local cuisine, even more so if you snag a table overlooking the lake.
The culinary tradition of the area around Lake Maggiore brings together ingredients and dishes from the nearby Italian regions of Lombardy and Piedmont, as well as from central Switzerland. You will find risotto and fresh pasta, along with rich stews, cheeses and freshwater fish caught from local lakes and rivers. Here is a list of the best restaurants for traditional food around Lake Maggiore, Switzerland.
The large terrace overlooking Lake Maggiore and the very typical Swiss-Italian menu are two of the reasons why Ristorante alla Taverna should be on your list of places to eat while in the Locarno area. Start your meal with a delicate swordfish carpaccio or a tasty mushroom bruschetta and then, dive into mains like homemade spinach gnocchi, tagliatelle or risotto with porcini plus roasted and grilled meat platters. The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming – perfect for enjoying a lunch or dinner al fresco.
What happens when a young and very talented chef takes over one of the region’s oldest restaurants? Pablo Ratti, the enfant terrible of the Swiss culinary world, is the resident chef at Rodolfo’s in Vira, where you will find a dining room with an early 20th-century feel and a menu that is incredibly innovative and wildly enjoyable. Classics like ravioli, braised veal, perch pan-fried in butter and sage, ossobuco and risotto have been given a modern makeover and the result is mouthwatering and always interesting. The menu changes with the seasons, so there is always something new to try.
Like any good waterfront restaurant, Ristorante L’Approdo is all about views and seafood dishes. Located right on the shore of Lake Maggiore by the Minusio Marina, this place is wonderful in the summer thanks to its terrace, but it is a great choice in the winter as well, as the modern dining room, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, offers uninterrupted views of the lake. The menu features a lot of seafood dishes, such as pasta with clams and grilled sea bass, but also local favourites like grilled luganega sausage and deep-fried fish served with tartare sauce.
Situated on the beautiful promenade by the lake in Ascona, Osteria Nostrana is a good option if you are looking for a place that is relaxed and centrally located. The terrace is large and right on the shore, while the dining room is elegantly furnished with antique pieces, but no matter where you choose to sit, the food is equally enjoyable. Osteria Nostrana specialises in typical Ticino fare, with many ingredients – such as fresh cheese, butter and meat – coming from nearby Valle Maggia. Trout from Lake Maggiore is a favourite here and it is served with another local specialty, risotto with wild mountain herbs.
If you are after a swanky, indulgent experience in the area, look no further than Seven Ascona, one of the region’s most happening restaurants. Modernly furnished with sleek lines and an industrial look, Seven offers contemporary haute cuisine in a refined atmosphere with views over both the main square in Ascona and the lake. From starters with a Mediterranean touch to homemade pasta with unique flavour pairings, and from perfectly executed seafood dishes to finger-licking-good pastries, Seven has it all.
The stunning views that sweep from Bellinzona all the way to Verbania and well into Italian territory, are one of the major reasons visitors flock to Osteria Boato which, with its large and beautiful terrace, can accommodate large groups. The food, however, almost steals the scene, as it is masterfully prepared with fresh ingredients and a good dose of creativity. Here, you will find seafood as well as local fish, perch served with risotto, Alpine cheeses and homemade tagliatelle with succulent and tender braised beef.