Nilus, in Varenna doesn’t have the best food in Lake Como but it is certainly worth a write up as in our four days on Lake Como it is the place that we returned to the most. A recommendation from a friend took us to the simple lakeside restaurant for the first time and after one visit it was hard to stop going back. Situated right on the edge of the lake in a small cluster of restaurants Nilus has a large terrace area partially covered by blue and white striped awnings. The outdoor seating is all white, lacy cast iron like the sort of furniture you might find at the bottom of granny’s garden. Adding to the chintzy feel the tables are adorned with floral tablecloths. You can’t complain about the decor though when you are sitting in front of a spectacular view such as the one from Nilus’ terrace.
The menu features lighter food and is packed with various variations of crepes, paninis and pizzas. While you are making up your mind make sure you order the house wine. Both the red and white are excellent and are served in a small earthenware jug which easily fills four glasses. This is truly fantastic value for money since the cost is €3 for the jug.
We managed to sample a few of the pizzas on offer during the course of our visits and they were all excellent with a crispy, smoky base and judicious scattering of toppings that did not overwhelm the light dough. However, my favourite dish from Nilus was the simple Caprese salad. Rounds of milky buffalo mozzarella were served nestled between slices of ruby red tomatoes and garnished with a sprig of fresh basil. When you order a salad a different bottle of olive oil is proffered in addition to the oil already on the table for the bread in an acknowledgment of the need for a higher quality oil for a salad dressing. Such a gesture immediately confirms that although Nilus is a simple, inexpensive restaurant, it is run by people who care about food. Although I suppose that just about everyone in Italy falls into the cares about food category.
Nilus is a simple place but it will leave you wishing that everywhere you ate was as no frills and offered such great value.
Details: Riva Garibaldi 4, Varenna, Italy
Damage: Such a bargain that my mother would approve
If you liked reading this you might like reading about the pizzas on offer at Pinky’s in Sestiere or if you are craving Italian in London try my latest long overdue find, Osteria Basilico.