“There is a code of silence that surrounds Lake Orta in northern Italy. Visitors are reluctant to tell others about its beauty … it is astonishing how few people – even Italians – know about the place,” wrote a British travel writer in 2012.
Likewise, Orta, located on Boston’s south shore, remains a well-guarded secret among its loyal clientele, despite accolades from The Boston Globe, South Shore Living and Open Table.
8-mile long Lake Orta sits just west of Lake Maggiore, one of three major glacial lakes in the Alpine portion of Italy’s Piedmont region.
Brett Williams, Chef/Co-Owner
Brett discovered Lago d’Orta while working and travelling throughout the famed food regions of Italy – Tuscany, Piedmont, Liguria, the Veneto — a decade ago.
He had already fallen in love with food preparation, having helped his grandfather prepare family meals since childhood. Not coincidentally, Grandpa owned and operated Boston’s most well-known function house, Lombardo’s.
Later, interning in trattorias in towns whose names none of us can pronounce, Brett fell in love with the simplicity and clean flavors of true northern Italian cuisine, which he had begun to appreciate years earlier as apprentice to Jimmy Burke, a restauranteur whose name was synonymous with upscale Italian food in Boston in the 1970s-80s.
Finally, Brett fell in love with Cara, his Italian travel companion (and a seasoned restaurant pro). In fact, he proposed to Cara in a tiny town near Lake Orta just before the two returned to the Boston area.
The newly engaged chef refined his kitchen and management skills at Stella restaurant in the South End from 2010 to 2012, before the opportunity to purchase Orta from Jimmy Burke arose. Just before its Grand Re-Opening in the summer of 2012, Cara gave birth to Luca, who joins brother Jude is this fun-loving foodie family.
More on Piedmont
Piedmont is the second-largest of Italy’s 20 regions, and is often referred to as “Tuscany without the tourists,” although we like Travel + Leisure magazine’s description of it as “Italy’s gastronomic capital.” In fact, the Slow Food movement now popular in the U.S. began in Piedmont.
With an area of 9800 square miles bordering the French, Swiss and Italian Alps, at the very top of the Italian boot, Piedmont has almost 5 million residents, almost half of whom reside in mountainous areas. The rest live in the lowlands, and are involved with agriculture: rice, corn, dairy products, fruit (cherries) and grapes. Vineyards in Piedmont produce some of the world’s most respected red wines – Barolo and Barberesco, Nebbiolo and Barbera. In addition to the famous white truffles of Alba, the region produces snails, cheeses like robiola, gorgonzola and toma, vermouth, venison and veal, and gianduja chocolate.