When you visit Lugano, it is inevitable that you will stumble across a grotto or two, which are very typical of Ticino. These grottos are rustic establishments that you can usually find located in remote and shaded areas off the streets.
Outside, it is characteristic for there to be a wide open space for eating your meals outside. There are plenty of tables and benches located in the shade under the trees. And, there is also the typical cellar on the premises. And, you will likely see plenty of locals out dining with their families. It will be a great mixture of people from all cultures and backgrounds coming together to enjoy the fine local foods.
What you will find for dining at a typical grotto establishment are only local products and dishes typical of the region. To drink, you can enjoy Merlot, local wine or perhaps Barbera and lemonade from a small jug or cup. Of course, the actual food is the real focus here – it is local and delicious. Expect to enjoy tasty things like home-made cold cuts (especially salami and bologna sausage), vegetable soup, busecca, risotto, marinated fish, veal tonne, roast beef (both hot and cold) with salad and sautéed potatoes, polenta with braised meat, rabbit, cazzöla, mushrooms, cheese and cheese portions, zabaglione, bread cake, wine flavoured peaches.
Your experience at a grotto is one to be savored and enjoyed. Do not attempt to rush through your meal and get on your way. Instead, relax and take in the moment so that you might enjoy the experience as you sip on some of the local wine or eat some of the local meats or dishes. Know that you will be treated like a family member and will gladly be welcomed back to the grotto, should you remain in the area more than one day.