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An Evening Of Opulence At Mistral, Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni

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By Lucy Cocoran on 19th June 2024

Bellagio’s only five-star hotel sets the stage for an unforgettable evening of culinary artistry.

As we walked through the foyer at Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni to the pianist’s tune of Strangers In The Night, we felt like we’d stepped inside a movie. The overwhelming sense of grandeur is hard to overstate. Every fine detail adds to the feeling that you've stepped into a historic hotel which hasn’t been tarnished by time.

The history 

With origins dating back to 1850, Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni was originally built by architect Vantini as a private villa for the Frizzo Counts. Twenty years later, it reopened as the luxury venue the world knows it as today. 

In its time, the hotel has counted noblemen, former presidents (including Roosevelt and Kennedy) and several A-listers among its guest list. And, its status as the only five-star hotel in the esteemed Bellagio area is a true testament to the level of luxury on offer.

The restaurant 

Adjacent to the lounge area is Ristorante Mistral, marked by floor-to-ceiling windows and a jaw-dropping outlook of the lake. In the daylight, these windows boast expansive views of the mountain ranges opposite. As the sun sets, a mystical fog hangs low, bringing a literal air of ambient allure.

The seven course degustation is an unmissable experience but I would recommend coming hungry. Portion sizes are generous and are closer to standard size than sample. And, with a few amuse bouche courses scattered throughout, it ends up being slightly more than seven courses overall. 

We were lucky enough to be seated right at the window, and mere moments in, were already noticing small details which made everything feel ultra-luxe. 

Your water choice is distinguished by the colour of marble in the bottom of your glass. A green marble signifies still, while sparkling is indicated by blue. A generous basket bread arrives, still warm from the oven. We are told this is made onsite, with dough which has been raised for over 19 hours. The olive oil is also a home blend, made with cherry tomatoes and artichokes for an earthy undertone and vibrant shade of green. 

Before the seven course procession begins, we are giving a palate cleanser to start things off. There were three parts to this course — two dishes and a kombucha drink. Put together, this thoughtful trio certainly woke up our palates for what was to come.  

It seems like a trademark move for a degustation dinner to include caviar, and our first course, which was a serving of Polish Caviar with raw langoustine and clarified butter, was a real feat. Creamy, salty, fishy and frothy, this was a melting pot of flavours and mouthfeel.    

Minimal food wastage is an ongoing theme throughout Mistral's menu, whether it be utilising more parts of an animal or repurposing certain ingredients. 

The best example of this ethos came during the foie gras course, which was presented alongside a slip of paper, introducing us to goose producer, Eduardo Sousa. In it, he details the ethical standards of which his geese are born and bred, living in total freedom among nature with no forced feeding. Having been approached by Mistral’s Executive Chef Ettore Bocchia a few years ago, Sousa has since been supplying the restaurant with his high-quality produce.

The goose was presented in three ways; terrine with mango and raspberry puree, pan fried escalope and dried goose skin with blended goose leg inside. This course had plenty of texture and flavour, and having those ethical standards in mind encouraged a true sense of conscious eating. 

Continuing this theme, the next course was a stocky and rich peacock tortellini, made using all parts of the bird. This was followed by fresh and juicy sea bream from the Mediterranean, and later, veal with black truffle from Australia and mille feuille potato.The foamy texture of this truffle was really unique and interacted well with the thick cut of meat. Needless to say, after these extravagant and graciously sized dishes, we were sufficiently full. 

Of course, anyone with a sweet tooth will always find room for dessert, (and we sit firmly within this camp). Anyone with a penchant for theatrics will find the presentation of the final course very enjoyable, as both of our waiters appeared table side with a trolley. On it, was a large bowl of cream and canister of dry ice. Before our very eyes, they told us, these ingredients would transform into incredibly fresh ice cream. Plenty of whisking and a few laughs later, we were watching as the smoothest vanilla ice cream was spooned onto our plates. thIS was served alongside caramelised pineapple and blood orange, which was the perfect amount of citrus to cut through the richness. 

At the night’s end, tea and coffee service arrived by cart, with various plants on top. Sprigs of fresh mint are snipped from the branch, before being placed in a pot of hot water and left to steep.

The staff 

We loved every interaction with the service members, who went above and beyond to ensure a special experience. If we left and returned to our seat, a member of staff was waiting to place a fresh napkin across our lap. They were always a few steps ahead, anticipating our every need and fulfilling it without being asked. 

Knowledgeability is a big part of the appeal here, with genuine care taken to inform you of what each dish consists of and how it has been prepared. The level of personality and fun we received from each staff member was particularly lovely from such a fine-dining establishment.  

The verdict 

For anyone seeking a truly memorable dining experience in Lake Como, Ristorante Mistral has firmly established itself as a must visit. While many pay a visit for a very special occasion, others feel that just being in Lake Como is reason enough. To both groups of people I say, book yourself a table. You won’t regret it. 

Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni


Address:
Via Teresio Olivelli, 1, 22021 Bellagio CO, Italy

Ristorante Mistral Bookings: made here

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