We make a long weekend in Ticino and especially in Ascona at least once - sometimes twice - a year, and so we did last weekend. And this time we made a special experience. On our way to the standard place we usually choose for lunch or dinner during our stay, the Pizzeria Cortile, we passed a place where a wonderful smell was in the air. We kept it in mind and thought about trying it for dinner... which was a good decision.
So we went there in the evening (luckily not too late) and found ourselves in the patio of the Grotto Baldoria, one of THE places you've to visit (now we know that too). While sitting there a friend of us asked us if we need some recommendations and told us that we have to go the location where we just took a seat. Coincidence? Good luck? Whatever, it was definitely a good choice.
After receiving the drinks we started to wonder why there's the salami on the table that you can cut on your own... knife, fork and a plate at each place but no menu. The question to the waitress shed some light on that: there's a fixed menu, chef's choice. Bread, salami, salad with tomato, tongue sausage with anchovies vinaigrette, pasta with tomato sauce, polenta with ragout, cheese variation, sheet cake. After all that food Grappa and Limoncello is served at discretion. Tasty comfort food at the right price, especially for Swiss standards.
As I said before luckily we'd been there early because 30 minutes later all seats were occupied and no more space was available.
Another specific thing is the whole atmosphere: everything's kept simple. Plastic table cloth (if there's any), all plates are different, all courses served on the same plate, you just get a wooden plank for the cheese. Once during the evening the lights will switch off and somebody has to throw some money in a special box to bring the power back (there's a story behind it that there've been some payment issues with the power supply company many years ago... now it's still a touristic running gag...)
It's definitely a place you should visit when you're in the Ascona area. In the meantime we have quite a serious list of different Grotti in the area that we'll check out one after another.
With the patio being really crowded and some heavy rain coming down I postponed the after dinner cigar a little bit. Back in the hotel I took a seat on the terrace and enjoyed a wonderful Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 with a fantastic view over the beautiful Lago Maggiore area. Another nice and relaxing weekend getaway...