The bustling low-ceilinged Trattoria La Festa (4080 Upper Mountain Rd., 802/253-8480, www.stowetrattorialafesta.com , 4:30–9 p.m. Tues.–Sat., $16–22) is owned by Italian brothers Antonio and Giancarlo DeVito, who greet everyone at the bar by the door. The place is a paragon of the trattoria genre: casual and family-style, but serving sophisticated dishes—solidly prepared pastas like spaghetti with tender baby shrimp in garlic white-wine sauce, or yellowfin tuna with white puttanesca sauce. The tiramisu is to die for.
Dig into the Eastern end of the eating spectrum at The Red Basil (294 Mountain Rd., 802/253-4478, www.theredbasil.com , 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. and 4:30–9:30 p.m. Mon.–Thurs.; till 10:30 p.m. Fri.; 2–10:30 p.m. Sat.; 2–9:30 p.m. Sun., $15–21), a bar-cum-restaurant that mixes up strong martinis and creates specialties like scallops with ginger sauce and Japanese fixings such as salmon teriyaki and sushi ranging from octopus to eel with avocado.
The hearty, stick-to-your ribs breakfasts at Dutch Pancake Café (at Grey Fox Inn, 990 Mountain Rd., Stowe, 802/253-8921, www.greyfoxinn.com , 7:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. daily in winter; 8 a.m.–12:30 p.m. daily in summer; $6–13) are just the (lift) ticket for carbo-loading before outdoor activities. Start with any of the 80 kinds of Dutch pancakes (which are thinner and more crepe-like than regular pancakes). The casual, noisy spot does an admirable job keeping big groups and kids happy.
It’s tough to beat the setting at Norma’s (4000 Mountain Rd., www.topnotch-resort.com , 800/451-8686, 7 a.m.–9:30 p.m. daily, $14–49), the glass-enclosed dining room at Topnotch Resort. Looking out to a poster-worthy view of the mountains and a wide stretch of sky, the spot highlights Chef Brian Tomlinson’s organic ingredients in classic dishes like grilled tenderloin and creative turns like coffee-cured duck breast. There’s also a well-edited wine list and a gorgeous outdoor terrace—the better to take in sunsets in warm weather.