We were en route back to Italy from our holiday in Germany and Switzerland at almost lunchtime and my two kids, husband and I made a unanimous decision in the car. We want to make it back to the Italian border by lunchtime for a good Italian meal. What can I say? After being away for just over a week, we were all craving for our much-loved Italian flavors. Our entry point was through Lake Como and with a quick consultation at the internet for a restaurant, I found one located in Albavilla, a small town in the heart of Alta Brianza.
Il Cantuccio is a one-Michelin star restaurant in a small and charming village stone house in the center of Albavilla. At the helm of the kitchen is Chef Mauro Elli, a Lombard by birth and who had his professional culinary training in Clusone (Bergamo). Over the years, he gained his experiences in the kitchens of prestigious hotels in Scotland, Switzerland and in Italy’s Ligurian Riviera until finally, in 2003, he opened Il Cantuccio. In 2007, he earned his Michelin Star. A true master in the kitchen, he continues to spread his expertise and passion by teaching at the Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana ALMA in Parma and Istituto Alberghiero G. Brera in Como.
Il Cantuccio has elegance etched on it and with the welcoming smiles of the staff, the atmosphere immediately warms. In the dining area with stone walls, the tables are dressed in white linen and silver service plates. The service was prompt as it was friendly. With two kids on our table, the staff was quick to cater to what the kids wanted: pasta with ragù sauce.
The menu is a very interesting mixture of tradition and inspiring creativity made of seasonal ingredients. The hard part was to choose. For starters, we picked out the warm and delicate Scallops in a Pan with Cream of Potatoes and Black Truffles (noci di cappesante in padella con crema di patate e tartufo nero) and the Browned Lobster with Summer Vegetable Sauce and Burrata of Andria (astice rosolato con passata di verdure estive e burrata di Andria). These were preceded by some delectable fried amuse-bouche.
The pasta was a laborious Maccheroncini alla Norma with Aubergines and Mozzarella di Bufala (maccheroncini alla norma con melanzane e bufala). And for the second dish, a much more filling Roasted Cinta Senese Pork of Podere Forte with Aromatic Herbs (maialino di cinta senese di Podere Forte arrostito alle erbine aromatiche).
The desserts gave a sweet and refreshing ending to a superb stellar lunch. Almond Soup with Red Fruits and Pistachio Gelato (zuppetta di mandorle con frutti rossi e gelato al pistacchio) and Hazelnut Mottarello with Cane Sugar Meringue (mottarello alle nocciole con meringhe allo zucchero di canna).
Il Cantuccio Ristorante
Via Dante, 32
22301 Albavilla (CO), Italy
Tel: +39 031628736
Open from Tuesdays to Sundays for dinner / Fridays to Sundays for lunch and dinner
Closed on Mondays
Rowena Dumlao - Giardina is the author and photographer of Apron and Sneakers and The Chosen Table. Besides her blog, she's also a recipe developer and a travel writer for other food and travel sites.