Eating well in the Cinque Terre

Hi Frugalistas!

Seafood gnocchi

A tasty main course (entree) of fresh anchovies

The Cinque Terre is, like much of Italy, pure joy for frugalfirstclasstravellers.  It is easy to eat well on fantastic local, seasonal food, and drink fabulous local wines, all at a bargain price!  What’s not to love?  So, here is the official frugalfirstclasstravel guide to eating and drinking well in the Cinque Terre:

Food

The Cinque Terre is all about fish and other fresh seafoods.  Red meat and poultry is not well represented (and in some places not represented at all) on restaurant menus, so seafood is the way to go here.  You will see common European species such as swordfish and sea bass, as well as other varieties that your waiter is unlikely to know the English name of – because it’s a local fish.  Add in squid and octopus, lobster, shrimp and other crustaceans, and razor clams and vongole.  You will be spoiled for choice.  Cooking styles vary from simple grills, to delicious soups/stews and seafood pastas.

A simple grilled mixed seafood plate for one (!). At a mere EUR18 it's genuinely frugalfirstclass!

A simple grilled mixed seafood plate for one (!). At a mere EUR18 it’s genuinely frugalfirstclass!

Because it is in Liguria, the Cinque Terre is also home to walnuts and pesto.  I enjoyed a delicious ravioli with a walnut sauce as an entree (appetizer) on one night.  Pesto also features as a simple dressing for pasta – great for a light entree (appetizer).  One thing I did notice was the difference in flavour in the pesto compared to pesto I am able to buy at home.  Not as oily and the basil not so overpowering, it was an altogether different thing in its natural habitat, so well worth trying!

My seafood soup was also EUR18 and was delicious!

My seafood soup was also EUR18 and was delicious!

Drinks

The Cinque Terre is more famous for its whites, but my travel companion and I got into the reds, and loved them

The Cinque Terre is more famous for its whites, but my travel companion and I got into the reds, and loved them

All those grape vines and lemon trees are put to good use in contributing to the Dolce Vita of the Cinque Terre.  Local grapes go into making both red and white wines, and the dessert wine, sciacchetra (shar-cat-TRA).  Lemons make the powerful, but tasty digestive, limoncello (lee-mon-chello).  When you are out dining do find, and try the local wines on offer.  In my experience, your waiter will swell with pride in discussing the relative merits of the different labels on their list, and will guide you to a good choice.  The sciacchetra is just the thing to finish off with some torte at the end of your meal, or even on its own savoured like a port.  If you are used to French style dessert wines, such as Sauternes, you will find the sciacchetra a bit different, but no less delicious.  Because of the small quantities, and almost artisanale production do expect to pay between EUR20-30 for a decent bottle in a reasonable restaurant.

Don't forget the sciacchetra - and make sure you dip the biscotti in - almost a dessert in its own right!

Don’t forget the sciacchetra – and make sure you dip the biscotti in – almost a dessert in its own right!

Quick eats and treats

Because it’s Italy, and because it’s the sea, there’s plenty of gelato to try.  What I did find was that the most interesting flavours were in the smaller shops a bit further up the hills away from the harbours.  There I found the maker served me, explaining the flavours and how they made them – and they tasted brilliant!  A ricotta and caramelised fig flavour I found in Manarola (in the little gelateria up the hill near the post office) was among the best gelato I’ve ever eaten.

This pesto and potato tortino kept the local flavours going at lunch

This pesto and potato tortino kept the local flavours going at lunch

If you’re looking for a light lunch to be enjoyed on the run or just to sit on the harbour breakwater and enjoy the view for a budget price, you also have plenty of options.  Forget the pizza and go for any of the other little hot take away goodies you’ll find in little shops dotted around villages.

Food as souvenirs

If you want to take some of the Cinque Terre home why not go for some local produce?  I found a tiny little supermarket cum deli in Manarola that sold local wine and limoncello at a reasonable price.  Bottles of local pesto were cheap and make a nice little gift for friends and family.  If you really want to get into the local wines back home, there are food shops geared to tourists (you can spot them by their bags of pasta and bottles of expensive olive oil out the front) who will ship cases of wine home.

IMG_1647

The Cinque Terre is probably one of the easiest destinations I’ve ever visited to eat and drink local.  Find a little restaurant and take your pick – you can’t go wrong!

For more great eating and drinking options in the Cinque Terre head to my Amazon affiliate store (I do earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase).

Related posts:

Ten tips to enjoying the Cinque Terre

Cats of the Cinque Terre

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , ,

20 Comments on “Eating well in the Cinque Terre”

  1. tiffanytfn 19/05/2013 at 7:20 pm #

    Where is this place? I’ll be heading down to europe for university student exchange, any places you recommend?

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 19/05/2013 at 7:26 pm #

      It’s in northern Italy, about three hours south of Milan by train. No great raging nightlife, but beautiful and imexpensive

      • Ian 18/01/2014 at 10:46 am #

        Hi, i just joined you on Facebook and subscribed to your blog,

        The cinque terre, has been a part of the world I have been drawn to all my life, yet not managed to go there yet. I don’t know the reason for that attraction, it has just always been there. And just now….reading your blog, I laughed when you talked about the food… For some strange reason. all of the food you mentioned were typical of the region……happen to be my favourite foods, – pesto being my absolute favourite meal. Wow how funny is that? and a bit mysterious .

        Thanks for your blog….. it makes be really determined to go there this year. I will be staying in a town just near Nice in France.. and I think well maybe a weekend trip to the Cinque terre? What do you think ?

        appreciate your wisdoms.

        Ian (from Melbourne Australia)

      • frugalfirstclasstravel 18/01/2014 at 2:01 pm #

        Thanks for signing up for both the blog and my Facebook page – I really appreciate every reader. When I went to the Cinque Terre I travelled from Nice. It took about 7hrs by train. Car would be quicker, but then you’d need to be prepared to leave it in the village car park. Another of my Aussie readers left a comment about the horrors of driving in the Cinque Terre so it’s definitely one to avoid.

        For me, a weekend isn’t enough, but if that’s the only time you’ve got, I say go for it!

  2. foodallday 19/05/2013 at 7:58 pm #

    Reblogged this on Food Incorporated.

  3. RosemaryK (@AussieFrance) 19/05/2013 at 11:56 pm #

    Very informative post. I absolutely loved the
    Cinque Terre. We had driven past so many times without realising their eixstence! And I had one of my very best eating experiences in Monterosso at L’Ancora Della Tortuga, on the way up the hill, overlooking the sea. The best seafood meal I’ve ever had.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 20/05/2013 at 6:12 am #

      That was something I noticed too. Normally food with fantastic views suffers a bit, but in the cinque terre it didn’t seem to matter. Sea view food was just as great!

  4. orlando gustilo 20/05/2013 at 11:19 am #

    Your blog inspires! I have been thinking of traveling to Cinque Terre on my own this year but keep getting cold feet. I’ve always traveled in groups. One of these days….

  5. Peter Behringer 21/05/2013 at 9:46 am #

    the seafood photos in this post made my mouth water so much i went to to the local Spanish-immigrant-owned tavern (tasca) in my Caracas neighborhood to order the favorite shrimp dish after work…

  6. Connor @ Roamancing 25/05/2013 at 6:22 am #

    Good gelato places are nice to hear of! I wonder how different it is from places elsewhere in Europe, as I haven’t compared much.

  7. Natalie 17/02/2014 at 6:26 am #

    Nice post!
    The grilled mixed seafood looks awesome! Could you kindly advise which restaurant is that?
    Thanks in advance!

    Warmest,
    Natalie

  8. Ela 31/07/2014 at 8:49 am #

    Hi, we just arrived in Vernazza tonight and wondering which restaurant we could find the “smple grilled mixed seafood plate for one (!). At a mere EUR18 it’s genuinely frugalfirstclass!” at…????? thanks!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 31/07/2014 at 9:06 am #

      It was at Trattoria Il Porticciolo in Manarola. If you come out of the train station and head towards the harbour it is about halfway down the hill on the right. I would ring ahead and book a table if you are staying in Vernazza. That price was in April 2013. Have a wonderful time!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Ten tips for enjoying the Cinque Terre | frugalfirstclasstravel - 19/05/2013

    […] While I advocate this no matter where I am, in the Cinque Terre it is a must.  Carnivores need to forget the red meat – fresh local seafood rules here – and is cheap!  Great local wines (especially the whites) are a definite to try and definitely don’t miss the chance to try the local dessert wine of the Cinque Terre, sciacchetra (shar-cat-TRA) – delicious!  Other local treats to try:  pesto (yes, it is a Ligurian treat, so eat away!), walnuts (delicious as a pasta sauce) and limoncello (lee-mon-chello) a strong lemon flavored after dinner drink.  For more details on eating local in the Cinque Terre, see here. […]

  2. Cats of the Cinque Terre – a photo expose | frugalfirstclasstravel - 19/05/2013

    […] Eating well in the Cinque Terre […]

  3. Eating Well in the Cinque Terre – A Self-Guided Tour of Copenhagen | Aussie in France - 22/05/2013

    […] Food  – The Cinque Terre is all about fish and other fresh seafoods.  Red meat and poultry is not well represented (and in some places not represented at all) on restaurant menus, so seafood is the way to go here. Read more […]

  4. Three great walks for non-hikers in the Cinque Terre | frugalfirstclasstravel - 06/06/2013

    […] Eating and drinking in the Cinque Terre […]

  5. The Cinque Terre – daytripping to Portofino | frugalfirstclasstravel - 13/06/2013

    […] Dining in the Cinque Terre […]

  6. Cinque Terre Tourist Attractions / Travel Guide / Tips / Blog | Travel Waiting - 12/05/2014

    […] Eating well in the Cinque Terre […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: