When, from the olive grove, you enter the Vecchia Malcesine, you will experience a deep sense of calm and well-being, not only for the wonderful 180° view on Lake Garda, which embraces the Castle of Malcesine on one side and the Isola degli Olivi on the other, but also for the relaxed and elegant atmosphere that reflects the personality of his remarkable host: chef Leandro Luppi.
An artist – not only in the kitchen, as he is also a painter and a passionate art-lover – utterly brave, witty, and curious, Luppi opened the Vecchia Malcesine back in 1998. In 2004 he earned the Michelin star, which he has managed to keep, highly deserved, ever since. The chef’s dishes reflect the generosity of the Garda territory as well as his love for culinary research.
Malcesine enjoys, in fact, a privileged geographical position between Mount Baldo, with its interesting biodiversity, the riviera, rich in olive trees, and, of course, the lake with its large variety of fish. Usually neglected by the international gourmet cuisine, Leandro has ennobled them finding for each lake fish the appropriate cooking technique able to maximize its flavors.
In addition to creating his dishes, Leandro’s hobbies involve painting and many other decorative arts. The restaurant’s interiors, which he has personally furnished with fine elegance, are dominated by orange, turquoise, and green tones with artsy highlights that go from the wine bowls that he painted himself to the collection of Murano glasses from the 1950s, from the table built with a vintage door that he recovered from an abandoned house to a collection of paintings that include a work by famous artist Riccardo Licata.
Make sure you book in advance the table for two facing the lake, just amazing at sunset, and not miss the chef signature dish Carbonara di Lago which is his reinterpretation with a twist of the classic Italian pasta recipe.
Leaving the Vecchia Malcesine will make you feel like Cinderella at midnight: the magic vanishes, everything goes back to as it was before, and you will have to wait till the next dinner to feel so special again.
There is also another “secret” in Leandro Luppi’s dishes: it is called Andreino, a skilled fisherman and one of the few left in the area, that for more than 15 years has been fishing the best “raw materials” destined to the table of his great friend.