Insalata Pollo, Cafe Colombo
At the midpoint on the western shore of Lake Como is the lovely town of Argegno. With a central piazza offering lake views, it’s popular with tourists, local residents and also the Milanese.
Argegno offers foodies a culinary delight. Located within the central piazza and the immediate pedestrian area we have six restaurants, seven bars (most of which serve food also) and an excellent gelateria.
Read on to find out about our favourites…
Aperitivi – yes, it really is free!
Aperitivi is the quintessentially Italian custom of bars serving light snacks, without charge, to accompany early evening drinks. Its origins can be traced back to Milan (some may argue it was Turin) in the 1920s when bars began to serve a bitter alcoholic drink paired with a small amount of light food.
Today this custom has evolved to encompass any alcoholic drink and the accompanying snacks will often be more imaginative than a bowl of crisps or dish of olives. A couple ordering two drinks should not be surprised to receive bread, sliced meats, cheese and maybe some bruschetta.
In Argegno my favourite places for aperitivi are Bistro Argegno, Bar Motta (a wooden board almost the length of an oar, rather than a plate, delivers your aperitivi on for groups of 6-8 people!) and Café Colombo (where from 6pm every evening their aperitivi is a help yourself buffet). You’ll find the selection available varies in each of the Argegno bars so enjoy sampling them until you find your favourite.
The Restaurants – plenty of choice
I’ve listed some of my favourite restaurants below, with my personal recommendations.
Ristorante Barchetta, located in the central piazza. Look out for daily specials at lunch – just ask if they have any – the lasagne if listed as a special is not to be missed. The perch risotto is sublime, a real Lake Como speciality. Alternatively, the Barchetta fillet steak, with porcini mushroom sauce, is great if you are a meat-lover.
La Piazzetta, again located in the central piazza and with lots of outside tables for summer dining. Here you’ll find a good selection of flavoursome dishes that are presented extremely well. Be ready to post a photo of your dinner on Instagram. It’s worth mentioning they also offer a pizza menu – which really helps if you have a mix of guests as you’ll normally find something for everyone. My recommendation would be the seared tuna. Note the menu does often change.
Tagliata di Vitello, La P’Osteria
La P’Osteria, located on the edge of the river that runs through Argegno (ideal on a hot summer’s evening as a little breeze runs down the valley, but take note that if you want an outside table you should book in advance). A beautiful and stylish restaurant with vaulted ceilings, great food and service. My recommendation here is easy: the tagliata di vitello con sale – strips of veal served with several different flavoured salts and olive oil. Not only does the dish look amazing, it tastes heavenly. The restaurant overall specialises in Lake and Piemontese cuisine. Look out for the delightful homemade desserts that you’ve never come across before.
Il Sorriso, located around the north-eastern corner of the piazza, just next to the passage linking the port and the piazza. Completely renovated under new ownership in 2017, with an attractive outside decked dining area. The attractive fresh fish counter gives you the clue that their menu includes some good fish specialities. My recommendation here would the Senatore Cappelli spaghetti with clams.
Perch Risotto and Pizza, Hotel Argegno
Hotel Argegno, located directly opposite the ferry terminal. As I write this they are currently undergoing an end of season renovation. For homely family Italian food this is my favourite. They offer a wide menu including an astounding range of pizzas. In my months of living here on the lake I’ve not once had a poor meal in Hotel Argegno. One of my favourites, when I am looking for something different, is the zuppa di cozze – mussels cooked in a light and spicy sauce. Order with fries and it’s a perfect meal. The homely pastas are always worth a mention too. One final tip – even if you think you can’t eat any more, you have to try a Sgroppino. It’s a fantastic little blended cocktail dessert with lemon sorbet, vodka and prosecco.
Just in case you have room for an ice cream…
If you fancy an afternoon treat, in between your lunch and early evening aperitivi, then head to the gelateria, Il Gelato di Zoe. Located in the central piazza opposite the fountain – homemade gelato, frozen yoghurt, amazing cakes and happy, friendly service. In the peak summer months don’t let any queues put you off. It’s well worth it. My favourite is an occasional special they do – Crème Caramel Gelato – tastebud heaven!
I’ve missed other amazing cafés, bars, restaurants and hotels from this list but trust me, if you are a foodie like me you will love Argegno.
Dessert, Il Gelato di Zoe