I highly recommend L’Alternativo Restaurant if you are traveling from Italy (Menaggio area) to Switzerland (Lugano area) or vice versa. It is located right outside the city center next to the main road connecting Polezza and Menaggio. In my case, my family and I were traveling from Zurich to the beautiful Lake Como for a short family vacation.
My parents had eaten here on a previous trip to Lake Como and suggested that we stop here for lunch because according to them, the food is simply authentic and delicious.
As we pulled up to the restaurant I was quite surprised to find that there weren’t many people at the restaurant even though it was lunch time. I started to feel anxious and worried that the food wasn’t going to be as good as expected. Boy was I wrong… Turns out our usual lunch time was rather early compared to Italian standards.
We were seated outside and for once the weather was perfect. We all ordered beer- not entirely original to go with the picturesque Italian countryside! The waitress couldn’t speak English at all so we made out what beverages we wanted with our broken Italian and absurd hand gestures. After a long mouthwatering look at the VERY ample pizza menu we were apologetically told in Italian that any pizza would not be available for our meal that afternoon because the oven was still heating up and needed time. Feeling extremely disappointed as Pizza is what L’Alternativo specializes in. Their pizza choices flooded over 5-6 pages of the menu!
I ended up ordering the ‘Fior di prosciutto e perle di melone’ Parma ham with melon (€9.50) as my appetizer and the ‘Tagliolini alle vongole, pomodorino pendolino e basilico’ Taglioini with clams “pendolino” tomatoes and basil (€13.50) as my main.
My mother went for the ‘Risotto al tartufo nero di norcia crema di radicchio trevisano’ Rice with Norcia black truffle and Trevisan chicory cream (€10.00) for her main course and didn’t choose a starter. Dad ordered the ‘Piatto di salami misti’ Plate of mixed charcuterie (salami) (€8.00) to start and ‘Conchiglioni al ragu di manzo’ Shells pasta with beef ragu sauce (€9.00) to finish.
I absolutely loved the way my parma melon delight was presented. Usually the melon comes out in big chunks and you have to slice your way through it, this time, the melon which was unbelievably sweet, came out as little ‘perle’ balls. The parma ham was softer than any i’ve ever tasted, proving how fantastic and fresh it was.
‘Fior di prosciutto e perle di melone’ Parma ham with melon (€9.50)
Although I regretfully didn’t try, my dad’s salami platter looked luscious in a very meaty way. If you are a meat lover, this is a must!
‘Piatto di salami misti’ Plate of mixed charcuterie (salami) (€8.00)
Rubbing my hands together in gleeful delight and feeling a bit tipsy from beer drinking under the sun, I could not wait another moment for my clam pasta to finally come out. The pasta was cooked al dente, just the way it should be and was tossed in just the right amount of basilica leaves and olive oil. I was gutted when I finished the plate and was told to ‘please eat slowly!’ by my parents but I simply couldn’t help myself. The restaurant was extremely generous with the clams as the majority of restaurants give you a maximum of 6-7 pieces. There must have been at least 15 pieces this time! The clams were rich and meaty and exceeded my expectations.
‘Tagliolini alle vongole, pomodorino pendolino e basilico’ Taglioini with clams “pendolino” tomatoes and basil (€13.50)
‘clam disposal dish and wet hand towelette (very thoughtful…)’
I took the liberty of sampling my mother’s risotto as I pride myself as being a risotto connoisseur. I am a huge fan of black truffle and even buy them bottled in oil form to sprinkle on my own pasta and Italian dishes at home. Her risotto came out creamy and was intensely gratifying to taste.
I found it very interesting that the risotto was cooked with chicory cream. By cooking the chicory in water, the bitterness of the vegetable disappears, then combined with cream, delivers an ultimately smooth, lustrous and buttery texture to the rice. Absolute perfecto and a fantastic character addition to the usual simple broth base. I really appreciated the chef’s idea of blended kalamata olives (almost mistaken as anchovies) to decorate the surface of the rice.
‘Risotto al tartufo nero di norcia crema di radicchio trevisano’ Rice with Norcia black truffle and Trevisan chicory cream (€10.00)
Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of my dad’s shell pasta but I can comment that it was unquestionably phenomenal. The shells were massive and the ragu just dripped out of them like perfection on a plate. I ate an entire shell to myself and devoured every last bite.
Italians sure know how to go about their culinary preparation and enjoyment, if my stomach had a larger capacity I would definitely follow their eating sequence of ‘antipasti’, ‘primi piatti’, ‘secondi piatti’ then dessert……Sounds like a mouthful, literally! That’s four generous portions in one sitting! Maybe on my next visit to Italy I will attempt the sequence properly. Speaking of nexts, when I return to L’Alternativo I would love to try their pizzas and maybe even gorge and go for the gnocchi in walnut sauce- what a nutty combination!
We departed feeling satisfied with massive smiles plastered on our faces and more than ready to begin our holiday at the beautiful Lake Como. Buon appetito amici!
L’Alternativo Ristorante-Pizzeria’s Exterior
Excellent view…L’Alternativo Ristorante-Pizzeria
Via Regina 2, 22010 Carlazzo, Italy