THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN CINQUE TERRE: THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO DISCOVERING EXACTLY WHERE TO EAT LIKE A LOCAL AND WHAT TO EAT
Restaurants in Cinque Terre can be a bit of a tourist trap.
There are so many to chose from, and because Cinque Terre has now become so crowded especially in the summer, it can be hard for outsiders to pick the best places to eat.
But here I come to the rescue.
I am going to share with you the best restaurants in Cinque Terre. And not the top-rated by tourists, but the top places that locals recommend their best friends.
Because all you need is to know is where Italians love to go to eat the best food from Cinque Terre.
But before we dive in and discover what are the top restaurants in Cinque Terre, another big question is what should you eat there?
What to eat in Cinque Terre
Every time I travel to a new place, I spend hours researching what the local food is like and what I should try. There’s nothing worse than coming home from a place, to then discover you missed one of the local delicacies.
What food is Cinque Terre known for?
One thing that can’t be missing from your list of things to eat in Cinque Terre is fresh seafood. After all, Cinque Terre is made of 5 fishing villages, and up until a few decades ago most of the people here worked as fishermen.
One of the specialties here is pesce azzurro (oily fish), but you should also try the local delicious mussels, octopus, sea breams and seafood pasta.
The amazing thing is that the fish is so fresh here, you can taste it at its best.
Called acciughe in Italy, they are fresh fish too. But they deserve their little special spot in Cinque Terre because they are one of the most delicious local food.
What makes them so tasty in this region is the amount of salt in the sea.
If you wake up early enough in the summer, you can still see the fishermen coming back with boxes full of them.
Locals then pick the juicy one and preserve them with salt for 40-60 days. They are then washed and served with extra-virgin olive oil, oregano, and garlic.
You should also try one of the top street food here: fried anchovies.
Acciughe are so special here that they have their own festival in Monterosso, normally around mid-September.
Oh, pesto! So delicious.
Liguria’s most iconic dish seems so simple to make, yet, the pesto you eat in Cinque Terre has a much deeper aroma and flavor than anywhere else in the world.
Basil leaves that grow on these seaside hills, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, pecorino cheese, garlic, sea salt, and Ligurian olive oil are the original ingredients, that must be hand-crushed using a mortar and pestle.
Here you can eat pesto in many ways: on focaccia, on bruschetta, with fish. But my favorite way is to eat it with the fresh local pasta, trofie (short, thin and twisted) or trenette (long, flat and narrow similar to linguine).
If you fancy learning how to cook Italian food from the Italian riviera, check out Enrica’s cooking classes in Genoa. You will have an incredible time learning all the tricks about Italian food from her.
Focaccia Genovese is typical of Liguria and it’s perfect for a quick cheap lunch.
You are not going to belive how heavenly something so simple can taste like. There are so many flavors to choose from, you can try a different one every day. Some of my favorites are focaccia with olives, with onions, with anchovies, and with fresh tomatoes.
And while you are in Cinque Terre, you need to try focaccia di Recco: a thin cheese-stuffed unleavened focaccia from the Ligurian town of Recco, not too far from Cinque Terre.
With a good slice coming at less than 5 euros per piece, focaccia is the perfect lunch if you are on a budget.
Naturally gluten-free, farinata is very popular street food in Liguria
Farinata is an unleavened type of focaccia made with chickpea flour, water, and olive oil. Crispy on top and soft and chewy underneath it needs to be baked in a wood-fired pizza oven (although a home-made version I made a while ago came out delicious) and served with black pepper on top.
This cake is so simple yet special, like the cakes that grandma used to make. The pie has 4 layers: apricot jam, sponge cake, custard cream, and chocolate pudding, all inside a flaky shortcrust pastry.
There is only one place where you can eat this: Pasticceria Laura. Here they have been serving the original, authentic Torta Monterossina since 1966.
Pansotti are a typical Italian Riviera ravioli-style pasta that locals eat at home on Sunday lunch. They are filled with ricotta and greens (like spinach and chard, although originally Ligurians made them with wild greens they found foraging in the beautiful countryside). The best (and more traditional) way to eat them is with a creamy walnut sauce made with walnuts, bread, garlic, parmesan, olive oil, milk, and some marjoram leaves.
Best restaurant in Cinque Terre according to the locals
Best restaurants in Riomaggiore
Rio Bistrot: For the perfect seafood dinner with a view of the harbor. Make sure you book a table here, or you won’t get a spot (this is true for most restaurants in Cinque Terre, unless you are prepared to wait for a long time). The menu changes every few days, to make the most of the local ingredients available. You need to try the homemade pasta with mussels (called muscoli here).
Local tip: “What can I say? If you want to eat well in Cinque Terre, you must try this place.” Simone
Via San Giacomo 10, 19017 Riomaggiore, Italy; +39 0187 920616
A Pie’ de Ma’: with a very romantic address (Lovers’ walk) overlooking the sea, this restaurant has a small selection of local dishes but the quality of the ingredients is spot on. The location is enchanting, especially at sunset.
Local tip: “If the restaurant is full, try to find a spot at the bar. The wine is delicious, the charcuterie board is a good size and the focaccia is simply amazing.” Deborah
Via dell’Amore 55, 19017 Riomaggiore, Italy; +39 0187 921037
Best restaurants in Manarola
Trattoria Dal Billy: My favorite restaurant in Cinque Terre, especially for the incredible view. If you are short on time, this is the place to go. It takes a bit of climb to get to, but it’s so worth it. You will need to book if you go in the evening. You can either go at 7:30 pm or 9:00 pm, they only do 2 table seatings at this time (I know…odd) but the fish is really good and fresh, and pasta is incredible.
Local tip: ” If you can just have one thing, try the handmade taglierini pasta served with shrimp, peppers, fresh tomatoes, and pine nuts.” Alessia
Via Aldo Rollandi 122, 19017 Manarola, Italy; +39 0187 920628
Nessun Dorma: It’s more a cafe’ than a full-on restaurant. They only serve cold food like bruschetta and focaccia, and salads. But they have the best views in all Cinque Terre. We went just before sunset, in the early evening and it was simply incredible! One of the best memories we have of Cinque Terre.
Local tip: “Great spritz and delicious wine. The best aperitivo spot in Cinque Terre” Matteo
Localita Punta Bonfiglio, 19017 Manarola, Italy; +39 340 888 4133
If you want to support Nessun Dorma and Cinque Terre during these difficult times, you can buy a Nessun Dorma Box: the finest selection of local food and wine delivered from Cinque Terre to your home. By buying a box you will support Cinque Terre winemakers and producers while sampling some incredible products.
Nessun Dorma ships to the USA, Canada, and Europe. The shipping cost is included in the price of the box.
Best restaurants in Corniglia
Osteria A Cantina De Mananan: an old tiny trattoria (only 20 seats!) with delicious seafood but also more earthy dishes, like pansotti with walnut sauce and Ligurian-style rabbit, served with olives.
Local tip: “Make sure to book and bring cash (last time we went, it was cash only). You don’t want to climb the 377 steps and not find a spot here!” Valentina
Via Fieschi 117, 19018 Corniglia, Italy; +39 0187 821166
Best restaurants in Vernazza
Ristorante Belforte: located inside an 11th-century fortress on top of Vernazza’s harbor overlooking the Mediterranean sea, it’s one of the best restaurants in Vernazza. The food here is incredible. Try the spaghetti with mussels and anchovies from Cinque Terre.
Local tip: “Book well in advance and if you want an incredible sea view, ask to be seated sul mare (the floor with the spectacular sea view).” Flavio
Viale Alessandro Guidoni 42, 19018 Vernazza, Italy; +39 0187 812222
Best restaurants in Monterosso
Ristorante Miky: Monterosso is the biggest town in Cinque Terre, which means it is also full of tourists. And finding an authentic restaurant is not an easy task. If you go Da Miky, you won’t be disappointed. Here you will always find fresh fish of the day, homemade pasta and delicious desserts. It’s not cheap, but the food quality makes up for it.
Local tip: “Try the showstopper starter – Le prelibatezze di Miki- and the seafood risotto. Spectacular.” Liana
Via Fegina 104, 60015 Monterosso al Mare, Italy; +39 0187 817608
L’Ancora della Tortuga: Set on a beautiful cliff, this restaurant offers a beautiful view and a great atmosphere. Here you can taste typical traditional Ligurian food. You can try the tasting menu for 35 euros or their a la carte menu, filled with fish and meat specialties prepared with excellent quality ingredients from the local area.
Local tip: “If the weather is good, try to get a table outside with the stunning views” Elisabetta
Salita Dei Cappuccini 4, 19016 Monterosso al Mare, Italy; +39 0187 800065
One thing to watch out for: restaurants aren’t open every day. They each close one day of the week, to rest. But they close at random days: one will be closed on Mondays, another on Tuesdays, etc…
Check online and make sure the restaurant you want to try is open when you’ll be there.
Best cheap eats in Cinque Terre
What I love about Italy is how easy it is to stick with your budget, especially with food. Yes, you can find expensive tourist traps everywhere. But you can also enjoy local delicacies for just a few euros.
And cheap eat in Italy doesn’t mean cheap food: eating on a budget often goes hand in hand with quality ingredients.
Where to eat focaccia in Cinque Terre
Il Fornaio di Monterosso: by far the best focaccia in Cinque Terre with so many choices! They also have some tables outside with a sea view, or you can grab takeaway focaccia and eat it on the beach (which is what we did pretty much every day).
Via Fegina 112, 19016 Monterosso al Mare, Italy; +39 0187 817420
Where to eat farinata in Cinque Terre
Pizzeria & Focacceria La Cambusa: hands down, one of the best farinata in Cinque Terre. If you feel adventurous, try their pesto farinata. It’s excellent! But avoid pizza here. It’s not as good and that’s why you’ll find mixed reviews online.
Via Renato Birolli 114, 19017 Manarola, Italy; +39 0187 921029
Where to eat fritto misto in Cinque Terre
Il Pescato Cucinato: Once you start walking around Cinque Terre, you’ll see people with paper cones filled with fried seafood and a few long skewers. This is known as fritto misto, made with whole local shrimp, calamari, baby squid and anchovies. Just add a little squeeze of lemon on top and it’s ready to go!
Via Colombo 199, 19017 Riomaggiore, Italy; +39 339 262 4815
Best packed lunch for your hikes
Lunch Box: perfect for delicious takeaway paninis and sandwiches for your hiking adventures, and fresh-squeezed juices.
Via Roma 34, 19018, Vernazza, Italy; +39 338 908 2841
Where to eat gelato in Cinque Terre
Gelateria Vernazza: The gelato here is incredibly creamy and flavors were unique, seasonal and used some regional ingredients from Cinque Terre. And if it’s seriously hot, you should try their a granita al limone, incredibly refreshing in the heat of the summer.
Via Roma 13, 19018, Vernazza, Italy;+39 0187 182 0499
There you have it: the top restaurants in Cinque Terre!
Let me know what’s the best meal you had in Cinque Terre and share your experience with me in the comments below. And if you need more advice, don’t be shy and just ask!
And for more information about the best time to go and how to get there check out my complete guide to Cinque Terre here.
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