The first night we had dinner in this plaza in the old part of Sirmione. They had outside tables and it was a pleasant evening. One can only judge a restaurant by the dishes that one orders. We ordered a Caprese salad, Risotto with figs and cheese and a fish (Branzino) done is a grapefruit sauce. Since this was our first meal away from Rome and was different than the typical Roman food we expected something very good. It was not bad but nothing special. We were able to compare it to other meals we had in Sirmione that included other risotto and fish dishes later in the week and it reinforced that it was not too good.
On our second night in Sirmione it was raining and we did not want to walk too far. There is a restaurant right next to the Hotel Belvedere and we asked the owner what he thought of it and he told us it was very good so we decided to give it a try. The restaurant was obviously very popular and it was crowded but service was very good.
The food that we had was excellent. To start we shared a caprese salad that was good. For the two main dishes we had Polenta with mushrooms and local cheese and tuna with a sesame crust. Both dishes were excellent. Both Polenta and risotto are common in this part of Italy. In fact a friend of ours who grew up here said that it was not until the 1960s that her parents served pasta at home.
Campeggio (Camping Sirmione)
This was another recommendation from the owner of the Hotel Belvedere. It was another rainy night and we did not want to walk far and this restaurant was just down the lake from the hotel and is in a very nice building attached to a camp ground. There are tables outside and I imagine on a nice night it would be very pleasant to sit outside. The inside was quite large with huge windows looking out on the lake. The restaurant was not crowded and service was very good.
We had a very nice caprese salad and eggplant parmesan that we shared as appetizers. We then had fish (Branzino again) that was served with two different sauces and a ravioli with gorgonzola cheese and walnuts. The ravioli were shaped as hearts. The two sauces for the fish were very different in taste and were both excellent. The fish was tasty and cooked perfectly.
Osteria al Turcol
This restaurant was recommended by friends who had been here last year and it was - at the time - the #1 restaurant in Sirmione. It definitely required a reservation. It was a little over one mile from the Hotel Belvedere and although it was rainy we decided to bike there. We had our bikes on the trip.
This restaurant has obviously been there for some time. The ambiance was quite nice and it had a very rustic look. There are a small number of tables outside but with the wind and rain most people opted for inside tables. Service was Italian - slow - so we do not take points off for that.
The highlight of the meal was 20 year old balsamic vinegar and that says a lot about our experience. The waiter made sure this was pointed out. Since they were known for their fish this is what we had. My wife had the four lake fish - four different lake fishes as it implies. I cannot remember what I had which means I did not like it very much. The meal was a little more expensive than some other places in Sirmione.
This was another recommendation from the owner of the Hotel Belvedere. It was in the center of the newer part of Sirmione about 1 mile from the old city but a short walk for us. This was a very upscale looking place. There was nothing rustic about it - it was all modern. My wife had the seared tuna and I had gnocchi with ricotta cheese and spinach. Both dishes were very good. We normally do not care how the food is presented as long as it is good. The presentation here was very nice. The price was a little more expensive than some of the other restaurants we tried in Sirmione.
I cannot blame this choice of restaurants on the owner of the Hotel Belvedere. This is one we choose on our own. It was located a short walk from the hotel and was very nice from the outside. Inside it was a little dated and old. We seemed to be the only non-Italians there which should have been a good sign. For an appetizer we got fried polenta with a mushroom sauce. This was the highlight of the meal. For dinner we got seared tuna and swordfish. The swordfish was overcooked and dry. The tuna was OK. We also had some limp, tasteless green beans as a side dish with dinner. Service was fine.
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