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5 Dishes You Must Try in Lake Como

21 February 2024
by Michele Becker
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A breathtaking lake dotted with picturesque towns, Lake Como is home to a wealth of traditional northern Italian dishes.   

Lake Como, the immensely popular Y-shaped lake, is known for its breathtaking natural beauty and elegant style. Located in northern Italy’s Lombardy region, at the foot of the Alps, the town of Como itself is a 15-minute drive from Switzerland’s border. This fact strongly influences the region’s cuisine; here, in addition to a plethora of freshwater fish dishes, you’ll find lots of butter, rather than olive oil, and comforting semi-soft cheeses like fontina and taleggio. With grains such as cornmeal and buckwheat plentiful throughout the north of Italy, you’ll find that many of the region's dishes are naturally gluten-free.  

After a day of exploring Lake Como’s spectacular beauty, don’t miss these five dishes: 

PolentaPolenta 

Italy’s creamy cornmeal is a staple of many dishes in the north of the country, and Lake Como is no exception. You’ll see polenta prepared in a variety of ways all over the lake; one of our favorites is polenta balota. In this casserole, cooked polenta is molded, sliced into pieces, layered with a melting cheese such as taleggio, and then baked until bubbly and golden brown. Another classic dish is polenta unica (sometimes also called polenta concia). Colloquially meaning “greasy polenta,” this decadent dish melts together soft polenta, plenty of browned butter, fontina cheese, garlic, and sage into a deliciously indulgent comfort dish. 

 

MissoltiniMissoltini 

For more adventurous eaters looking for a local fish to eat with polenta, look no further! Missoltini (also called misultin in some local dialects) are preserved agone, a fish native to the lake. The agone are dried in a long, meticulous process that few still possess the knowledge and skill to do, giving them an intense, salty flavor. They are traditionally served grilled alongside a slice of polenta—the perfect pairing to help mellow the strong flavors of the fish. Although missoltini can be found all over Lake Como, some of the best can be found in Tremezzina and the upper sections of the lake.

 Pizzoccheri Alla ValtellinesePizzoccheri Alla Valtellinese 

Lake Como’s pasta speciality is named for the neighboring valley to the east of the lake and uses pizzoccheri, homemade noodles that resemble tagliatelle but use buckwheat flour instead of wheat. This comforting dish tosses the pizzoccheri with potatoes, cabbage, garlic, butter, and local cheeses. With roots dating back to the 16th century, it’s the perfect warming bowl, especially against the strong winds from the towering Alps. 

 

Risotto Al Pesce Persico

Risotto Al Pesce Persico 

Risotto with perch, one of the freshwater fish found in Lake Como, combines all the best that this northern lake region has to offer. Creamy risotto, a northern Italian dish often made with carnaroli rice, is paired with freshly caught delicate perch and seasoned with sage. Simple but elegant, we love enjoying it lakeside with a glass of crisp, white wine.

 

Resta di ComoResta di Como  

A traditional sweet bread, Resta di Como bears some similarity to panettone. This dessert bread is studded with dried and candied fruit, such as oranges and raisins, and is defined by its olive branch design. The dish was once cooked with an olive branch inside it, resembling a fishbone, or resta in Lake Como’s dialect (today, the design is just etched on top). It was traditionally prepared for Palm Sunday and is closely associated with Easter, but you’ll see bakeries serving up the sweet throughout springtime.  

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