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Tell me about... local food, eating out, local restaurants

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Beautiful lakeside setting of Cà dal Rat!  Photo August 2014, courtesy of Enrico Mocci   Well-stocked kitchen of Cà dal Rat!  Photo August 2014, courtesy of Enrico Mocci

Food is a delight throughout Italy, and particularly so at Lake Orta, indeed you are likely to be very pleasantly surprised just how good the food is in all price ranges, and how healthy and reasonably priced it is.  There's a very wide range of food shops, pizzerias, trattorias and restaurants for varying pockets and tastes, all within easy reach of our holiday homes.  In fact, you can come to Lake Orta just for the food: it's an area which provides waiters, restaurant owners and hoteliers to the rest of the world, so the local restaurants are really quite special.  Here are just a few to whet your appetite...

Our Top 10 Local Restaurants

•  We particularly recommend the Cucchiaio di Legno ("wooden spoon") at Legro, this agriturismo provides a really special gastronomic experience through a very modestly priced fixed menu.  Many dishes use their own home-grown produce!  Unending series of antipasti (serious piece of advice: pace yourself), main courses usually include slow cooked joints of meat, stunning home made desserts, and home made fruit grappa, limoncello and much more in abundance!  Web site www.ilcucchiaiodilegno.com.

•  Conveniently placed if you are staying in Vacciago or Lortallo, the Antico Agnello at Miasino offers great food and good service in a very pleasant tranquil setting in the grounds of the stunning Villa Nigra, and just yards from the large free public car park at Miasino.  Web site www.anticoagnello.it

•  There's a buzz about the newly re-opened Locanda di Orta, in Piazza Ragazzoni (Orta San Giulio's other square), see their web site www.locandaorta.com and Facebook page.  You can have lighter snacks with local salamis, cheeses, bruschetta etc with superb wines, or a full meal on the top floor terrace with fantastic view of the island across the stone roofs!

•  The Locanda del Buon Riso in the Vecchio Circolo at Lortallo. is walking distance from Villa Gelsomina.  Imaginative menu, accurate service.  Web site www.lalocandadelbuonriso.it also on Facebook.

•  For a superb lake-side setting, great food, warm service, and reasonable prices, eat at Cà dal Rat (it means "rat home"!) (web site www.lustaria.it), located on the main road (SR229) along the east shore of Lake Orta, about 2 km south of Orta San Giulio.  If you are staying at Orta San Giulio without a car, ask the boatmen to take you there (don't forget to arrange for them to bring you back!) - the restaurant has its own landing stage!  See also the Facebook page for Cà dal Rat with mouthwatering photos!

•  A great modest local restaurant on the lake-front is Ristorante Sant Antonio at Tortirogno, about 1 km north of Orta San Giulio.  Fairly traditional menu, no nonsense good food, superb setting next to the lake!

•  Walking distance from Casa Fiori, or may be you are just visiting Pella, is the Imbarcadero (www.ristorante-imbarcadero.it) down at the lakefront with a wonderful relaxed outside setting.

•  There's a lot of restaurants in Orta San Giulio, and you can't really make a bad choice, but our recommendation is the Ristorante Olina for its imaginitive menu, the way the owner works hard to find new ways of keeping the clients coming back, and its good food at a fair price.  On TripAdvisor and FaceBook.

•  There are no less than five great local pizzerias: Berimbao at Pettenasco (www.ristoranteberimbao.it), Pizzeria Del Ponte at Bassola, Golden Star at Armeno, Sirena at Bolzano Novarese, and Campana in Orta San Giulio.  Golden Star and Sirena both do take-aways.

•  Although offically a bar, Al Boeuc in Orta San Giulio is a great place to eat a light meal.  Ask for some bruschetta or a plate of local cheeses and salumi, there's also the local speciality bagna cauda, you won't be disappointed!  Massive selection of local wines, talk to the very knowledgable owner about what you like in a wine and he'll come up with just the bottle - and tell you he knows the producer well!

Entrance to Pizzeria 'La Campana' in Orta San Giulio - Photo with permission and courtesy of Giovanni Vignotto 2012

Restaurants for Special Occasions

•  Ristorante Due Santi (www.aiduesanti.com) in the main square of Orta San Giulio.  Super restaurant, great location, sit out in the main square on a summer's evening.....

•  Villa Crespi (www.villacrespi.it).  Two-Michelin-stars.  See Villa Crespi on Facebook.  The chef is Antonino Cannavacciuolo, star of the Italian edition of Gordon Ramsay's kitchen nightmares (broadcast in Italy on Sky), and sufficiently well-known to have his own Wikipedia entry (in Italian).  Top cuisine, perfect service, there are some very special tasting menus that will blow any budget.  The Crespi is the unmissable oriental style building near the roundabout outside Orta San Giulio.

•  Gufo Nero (www.gufonero.it) at Ghemme.

•  Al Sorriso (www.alsorriso.com) at Soriso (care: the restaurant has two r's, the place has just one!).  Three michelin stars - the only three-starred restaurant for many miles - people make a journey to eat there!

Outlets for Local Produce

•  For healthy living, the local dairy farm outlet l'Agrifoglio at Bolzano Novarese (Regione Monticello 1, 28010 Bolzano Novarese (NO), telephone 0322-982073, web site www.lagrifoglio.altervista.org) sells home-produced milk, cheese, yoghurt and ice-cream, and is particularly handy for those staying at Villa Gelsomina, Casa Miralago, and Casa Bartula.  Cheeses, ice-cream and youghurt is superb!

•  The Alpe Selviana above Agrano (Via Selviana 42, Frazione Agrano, 28887 Omegna (VB), telephone 0323-81287, web site www.alpeselviana.com) sells wonderful local produce, including honey, and blueberries and raspberries in grappa, as well as offering meals.  During June and July you can buy fresh bluberries and raspberries.

•  The Agriturismo 'Al Carbon' at Coiromonte (Via Monterosa 11, Frazione Coiromonte, 28011 Armeno (VB), telephone 0322-900333, no web presence) near the start of the Tre Montagnette walk, sells superb home made dairy products, including home produced cheese and yoghurt.  They also offer a wonderful meal experience! (better to telephone first, and you will need to speak a little Italian).

A longer and more detailed list of recommendations with locations, days closed, and contact numbers, covering all prices ranges, is provided as part of your location pack.

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