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An Insider’s Guide to Dining at Locanda Barbarossa, Ascona

Castello del Sole is a remarkable hotel in the sleepy Swiss village of Ascona, in the foothills of the alps and on the shores of Lake Maggiore. This upscale hotel includes multiple restaurants, with Locanda Barbarossa being the diamond in the epicurean crown.

Having visited many times over the years, I’m able to share personal insights into dining at this delightful restaurant – one that sets a new benchmark for the phrase ‘farm to table’.

Locanda Barbarossa Courtyard at Castello del Sole

Image: Ultimate Driving Tours

The setting and ambiance of Locanda Barbarossa

Castello del Sole is one of the largest hotel estates in southern Switzerland, which is set in the heart of sprawling parkland and a nature reserve. Pulling into this stunning property after an exhilarating day of driving supercars bathes you in a sense of ease – it’s so peaceful and friendly.

While looking at photos of Locanda Barbarossa will certainly give you a taste of what to expect from your visit, it’s a property with unique architectural details that really stand out when seen in person.

We typically begin our evening with a cool aperitif in the inner courtyards before dinner. This is a restaurant where we dress to impress, and the courtyard is the ideal place to catch up on the tales of the day and build an appetite for what is always an unforgettable evening of gastronomy.

Inside the dining room, you are greeted with elegant table settings, wooden beams, and grand stone pillars, which certainly set the scene for Michelin-starred dining. While it’s opulent, there’s nothing stuffy about this space – it’s high-end but relaxed.

A delicately plated fish dish on a large white plate with artistic engravings.

Image: Ultimate Driving Tours

The cuisine: classic French cooking with a farm-to-table approach

With 18 GaultMillau points and one Michelin Star, head chef Mattias Roock and chef de cuisine Sergio Bassi are the superstars that give Locanda Barbarossa its magic.

It’s renowned for its farm-to-table dishes, and the cooking genuinely embodies this ethos – here, it’s not just a well-worn marketing label. Because Castello del Sole is set among 140 hectares of farmland, the restaurant makes full use of homegrown organic vegetables, fruits and herbs. To illustrate the depth of flavours the chefs can call on, the farm yields 25 varieties of tomatoes alone. If a flavour gap appears, Mattias will simply grow his own herbs in the garden.

Additionally, Locanda Barbarossa produces Ticino pasta – made using homegrown durum wheat and local spring water – and famously pioneered dry rice farming in the area. Specifically, they grow a plump short-grain Loto variety, which is used to make deliciously creamy risotto.

For crops the estate doesn’t produce, the chefs source ingredients from regional producers in the valleys – fish from the boats on Lake Maggiore and local meats, including some unusual options including goat. This may not be a meat typically associated with fine-dining, yet at Locanda Barbarossa it’s executed perfectly.

Together with the chefs, we aim to create a special degustation menu for our guests, showcasing the best of the region along with the seasonal Franco-Mediterranean specialities that Mattias wants to show off.

This means dishes change every time we roll into Ascona, although the Locanda Barbarossa menu is guaranteed to satisfy. We’ve enjoyed delectable dishes such as a succulent lobster and kashmir curry, tender marinated Ticino veal, and vibrant spinach and ricotta fagottini with salted lemon and wild garlic.

The sweet dishes are just as sublime. One of my all-time favourites is their Yuzu lemon – plucked from their own lemon garden, naturally – which can be cracked open to reveal a smoked milk ice cream. It’s an absolute dream.

Meanwhile, the restaurant boasts an enviable wine list of 530 labels. This generous collection includes bottles from the best wine regions in France, Italy, Spain and more, as well as a selection of exceptional wines and grappas that have been made at the hotel’s own Cantina alla Maggia winery.

Chefs in traditional attire in the Locanda Barbarossa kitchen.


Elevate your experience with a culinary masterclass or intimate meal for two in the orchard

Staying at Castello del Sole and dining at Locanda Barbarossa are just the beginning of this quintessential Swiss experience.

Guests also have the opportunity to enjoy exclusive signature experiences that take you beyond simply indulging in the restaurant. These unique activities may be enjoyed as part of your free time on our European Supercar Tour.

For example, enthusiastic cooks can opt to spend quality time with Mattias Roock who shares his secret to Michelin-starred risotto with a 90-minute masterclass. You will get to explore the land where the ingredients are grown then learn some tricks of the trade. And of course, you can enjoy this wonderful dish with a crisp glass of white.

On that note, there are also private wine tastings at Cantina alla Maggia. Sitting amid the gorgeous vineyard, you can taste a variety of glasses of your choice, paired with appropriate snacks.

You also have the option of enjoying a private table for two in the estate’s enchanting orchard, where you will embark on a romantic five-course menu of your choosing as the sun begins to set. This is ideal for guests seeking a romantic and unique experience on our self-drive tours.

In addition to these exclusive activities, we are always seeking new experiences for our tours. In 2025, we will spend two nights at Castello del Sole as part of our luxury driving tour of Europe. We will enjoy not only a classic dinner at Locanda Barbarossa, but also a change of tone on the second night with a private barbeque experience with Mattias Roock on the edge of the picturesque lake – my mouth is already watering!

Ultimate Driving Tours guests enjoy a meal at Locanda Barbarossa

Image: Ultimate Driving Tours

A warm welcome always awaits our tour group at Locanda Barbarossa

Dining and location tick the right boxes, but it’s the reception we get at Locanda Barbarossa that brings everything together. As a group, we return to the hotel multiple times a year and the rapport we have built with the staff always ensures we receive the warmest of welcomes.

I’ve worked with the sommelier since around 2016, and he knows exactly what we want as a group. This genuine warmth and hospitality is appreciated by our guests, who instantly feel at home and ready to enjoy the experience and the company of like-minded people.

Additionally, we love to book the entire restaurant exclusively for our group, which allows the lovely team to dedicate their attention solely to us. It’s just another way to enhance an already exceptional experience.

The Ultimate Driving Tours fleet of supercars parked outside a large yellow luxury villa at Castello del Sole

Image: Ultimate Driving Tours

Experience Castello del Sole and Locando Barbarossa as part of an unforgettable luxury tour

If a visit to Castello del Sole and Locanda Barbarossa is on your radar, do it in true style – as part of an exclusive bucket-list supercar driving tour of Europe.

Over 10 magical days, enjoy driving a fleet of the latest-release supercars through Europe, staying in sumptuous five-star hotels and indulging in the finest gourmet experiences.

Or, let us arrange it for you as a ‘must-see’ destination as part of a bespoke luxury holiday.

If you want to learn more about any of our European driving tours, speak with our friendly travel concierge team today.

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