The region of Liguria, also known as the Italian Riviera, isn’t just home to some of the most beautiful coastal cities and towns in Italy like Portofino and Genoa, but it is also where some of the most delightful Italian food originates. Focaccia bread, for example, is well-known around the globe for its aromatic and absolutely irresistible texture and flavour, and while you can find excellent focaccia all over the Mediterranean, it won’t taste as good as it does here, in its place of origin. Since the Italian Riviera is full of traditional fishing villages, seafood plays a pivotal role here, and even the most inventive, Michelin-starred restaurants here pay tribute to tradition and what the region offers as readily available – fresh seafood, aromatic, locally-grown herbs and olive oil. Each of these 5 restaurants on the Italian Riviera are unique but all have a shared passion for traditional food and only the finest ingredients.
Da ö Battj
In a beautifully spacious and open setting, Da ö Battj lies in the charming village of Nozarego, not far from Santa Margherita Ligure, and welcomes its guests to enjoy culinary delights that are all about freshness and tradition. That’s what Italian cuisine is all about, after all. You won’t find anything complicated here. Simplicity is key but it’s worth noting – simplicity doesn’t mean plain. Rich flavours and textures come together via the use of fresh, local ingredients and seafood plays a major role – from the restaurant’s signature scampi dish to roasted octopus and seafood risotto. The restaurant dates back to the 1960s when it originally opened in Portofino and since then the family-run establishment has expanded to include this location.
La Terrazza is among Portofino’s finest restaurants and, located within Belmond Hotel Splendido, it provides one of the best panoramic views you can imagine. Chef Corrado Corti’s fantastic menu represents the uncomplicated regional cuisine in dishes like Ligurian ravioli with walnut sauce and pasta with pesto and tuna in a quinoa and pistachio crust and loin of lamb with an aromatic blend of fresh herbs. Black truffle and chicory, zucchini and vine-ripened tomatoes, pine nuts and anchovies all accentuate the dishes with heritage-rich flavours and aromas. The historic monastery site which has been transformed into a 5-star hotel and restaurant offers unforgettable views that are the perfect accompaniment to your dining experience. An excellent drinks menu includes Italian and world wines as well as an Italian classic – the Aperol Spritz, which is brought to the table with complimentary olives, almonds and hazelnuts.
Paolo & Barbara
Just like the name implies, Paolo and Barbara are the owners of Sanremo’s finest Michelin-starred restaurant which claimed the prestigious title back in 1990. Paolo & Barbara offers contemporary Ligurian cuisine which is deeply rooted in quality from the best ingredients available. Dishes like Cappon Magro and the Brandacujun stockfish, Seared tuna with sweet and sour aubergine “caponata”, the Sauté of baby squids served over a purée of Pigna white beans, a poached egg served with sea-urchins, Sanremo prawn and crispy leeks are some of the restaurant’s signature dishes that Paolo has created and developed based on local culinary tradition and his own travel-inspired infusions. Such culinary excellence can only be accompanied by some of the world’s finest wines and Barbara who is a celebrated sommelier takes care of this side of the business.
Wedged in between charming little houses on the waterfront, Sarri, a Michelin-starred restaurant is situated in a former fishing village where the generously mild Ligurian climate allows you to enjoy an excellent dining experience not only inside but on the terrace as well. The dishes presented here are equally elegant and sophisticated as the interior. Grand archways create a spacious and airy feeling within the restaurant and open up to the outdoor terrace, which is lined with lush greenery and colourful flowers.
Inside, wooden accents complement the soft colours of coffee, cream and caramel in the dining room. Fish and seafood form a substantial part of the menu and you can rest assured that a fresh catch from local fishermen will always be present here. Same goes for other local produce – Sarri proudly incorporates vegetables, olive oil, and bread that has been locally produced. Because of this, the menu changes regularly and is always full of delightful surprises making you want to come back time and again.
Established at the beginning of the 20th century, Trattoria Tripoli is a family-run restaurant offering a genuine taste of Ligurian cuisine accompanied by a selection of the finest Italian and world wines. Traditionally Italian, it’s full of charm, welcoming atmosphere, and everything that encourages you to celebrate life through food, wine, and conversations. Loved both by locals and tourists alike, Trattoria Tripoli is always buzzing with life. This charming trattoria at the heart of Portofino is always full of surprises yet never compromising on quality. Ligurian-style local catch of the day, freshly-made pasta, aromatic and rich pesto covering the most indulgent lasagna. Calamari and octopus antipasti will be some of the best you’ve tried. While the interior doesn’t exude the latest design trends, don’t be put off by this – the food and the service are truly outstanding and otherworldly.