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Italian Riviera


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Planning to visit the area next month and will be based in Santa Margherita Ligure. We will travel for good food and would greatly appreciate any heads up for places to sample good quality local food and wine. I'm always wary when dining out in areas with such a high tourist concentration so if there are any gems to look out for I'd love to hear about them.

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We stayed right there just a few weeks ago. Did stay, but not eat in Santa Margharita, but the following restaurants in the area were pretty good (and 2) and 3) just 10 minutes away or 15, 1) is maybe 40 minutes):

1) In the mountains behind Chiavari is Ne, which has two very well known traditional restaurants, La Brinca being the more famous one. Since they do not have open for lunch we went to Antica Trattoria dei Mosto in the hamlet of Conscenti. Very simple interior and all the classical dishes of Liguria, lots of filled vegetables, interesting pasta shapes and sauces, braised meats, etc etc. At the end of our meal we saw some buddies of the owner come in for a few bites, to chat a bit and one of them brought a crate with the first porcinis of the season. This is how this place works, they cook what is available. For 35 Euros they serve you a variety of courses and lots of food. Don't expect anuything too refined or super light, but the taste is right. And the wine list is incredible. Everything that is good in Italy (and some top notch french wines), often older vintages and prices that make you cry...... you cannot get these wines for that price at retail in the US and most of Europe. They carry both the classics (B. Mascarello, Montevertine, etc etc) but also all the new funky ones (Gravner, Cornelissne etc). Bring friends so you can finally drink that Magnum of Pergole Torte for something like 130 Euro.

2) In Chiavari itself we liked Trattoria Il Portico. We had some fresh Bottarga, seafood salad, trofie pesto, spaghetti with seafood and as main just a plate of wonderful sauteed red min octopus. This is a great place to get really fresh unadulterated seafood. For me this was exactly the kind of food I want to eat in that region. They serve mostly wine from the Bisson winery down the street. They match perfectly with the food and cost barely over 10 Euro a bottle.

3) On the other side of the peninsula, in Camogli, we had a wonderful lunch at Rosa. http://www.rosaristorante.it/

Usually one better avoids restaurants with a view, but here you can sit on a terrace steep over the Riviera and still eat well. Very good Pesto (supposedly mortar made if you call ahead) and again simply prepared seafood. The fritto misto was the best I had in a very long time, incredibly light and crisp, something I would love them to teach our seafood shacks in New England.

If you are looking for a guide, we very much enjoyed the Terroir Guide for Liguria. You will find more addresses for eating and food shopping than you can visit. Wherever we tried, we liked what was recommended. http://www.littlebookroom.com/foodwineriviera.html

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We haven't been to dei Mosto in a few years and am happy to see that it is still the same old great place. We've been to La Brinca several times and actually prefer dei Mosto, certainly in terms of food. The wine lists are comparable. The ambiance at La Brinca is better if that has any meaning to you. Both are really excellent trattorie. BTW, La Brinca does open for lunch on Sunday. Wonderful Ne' local color at Sunday lunch.

If you're going to go to Chiavari, a must go place is Luchin. Great farinata and many other Genovese specialties, in an osteria setting (i.e. basic, basic) under the arches.

Well prepared osteria food.

A really fun place, particularly at night, but also a wonderful place for lunch.

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This is something I posted about Ne' here in 2005.

"La Brinca in Ne'. Ne' is just slightly south of Chiavari, not that far off the autostrada, albeit a little difficult to find (up a winding dirt and gravel road in the middle of the vineyards). Sergio Circella has basically taken his family's trattoria and enhanced the typical 'rustic' dishes (from the Ligurian hills) which are served, with a wonderful wine list and a cantina where you can buy anything from the list. Sergio is passionate about wine (with no snobbism of any kind) and loves to talk about food as well. A fun guy to be with. As Antonio Santini said: "this is a wine list which would rate a 17 or 18 in Gambero Rosso if they rated wine lists of trattorie." A trattoria which, except for the wine list, was commonplace in Liguria 25 years ago, but sadly is dying out. Cucina povera at its best.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I just spent two beautiful weeks visiting friends in Sestri Levante and made a simple list of foods to taste in Liguria.

We had a very good meal at La Brinca. Outstanding wine list and very good value for sure (It means something when your Italian friend from Naples is feeling too full to eat the last two courses)

I am also convinced that the best foccacia formagetta in all of Liguria comes from the panificio in Cavi (http://bit.ly/adM34R)

Here is the link to "10 foods to eat and drink in Cinque Terre - Liguria, Italy": http://bit.ly/c34f9t

Edited by Mirdad (log)

About me: Jonas Frei - Artisan Cuisinier / PolyScience, ETI, Kisag, SLB distributor for Switzerland. 

I started: www.cuuks.com and the Sous Vide °Celsius App

Twitter: @ArtCuisinier

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We enjoyed a nice few days in Santa Margherita Ligure. Unfortunately the food wasn't up to much and many of the recommended restaurants were closed or full.

Of those we tried, Rosa in Camogli was about the best. Trofie with pesto follwed by whole grilled sole were very simple and all the better for it. The view at dusk was spectacular.

Thanks to those who made recommedations.

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  • 4 years later...

I'm going to be around Chiavari next week, and was looking for some restaurant recommendations in the area.  So far, my list includes Osteria Luchin, La Brinca, Osteria dei Mosto and Trattoria il Portico.  (All from past eGullet suggestions)


We would also love any information about the area that is useful (good markets, streets to explore, etc.)


Thanks for any recommendations!

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