Where and what to eat in Cinque Terre

manarola

Cinque Terre is a wonderful place to visit if you want to experience the local Ligurian cuisine, fresh fish and sea food but also wines made from grapes grown on the hills surrounding the five villages. Because it is a very touristy area, there are also many average restaurants. In this post I want to tell you about my experiences and where I found the best authentic food in Cinque Terre.

If you ask me when was the first time I fell in love with Cinque Terre I can tell you that it was way before I have visited the five little villages from the Ligurian Coast. I was probably about 15 years old, during the school summer holiday, when out of boredom I decided I wanted to learn Italian.

The days were long and hot and all the other children from my street were to the countryside, visiting their grandparents. For me, it was the other way around. As my grandmother was living in Bucharest and I was living in Transylvania, I was the one coming to spend the summer with her, in the capital. Unfortunately, all my friends were gone as well, to their grandparents, so days could become quite lonely.

I remember dragging my grandmother with me to the library and buy a “Learn Italian” book, which I probably still have somewhere in my bookcase. Every Thursday on the International television station, at 2PM, there was half an hour of “Learn Italian”. The rest of the week I would just watch Rai Uno on the cable TV and try to understand as much as possible. It was my summer project, to be able to speak Italian by September.

I have first seen footage from Cinque Terre on Rai Uno. I was fascinated by the way the local fishermen were getting their boats onto the water from the cliffs using manual pulleys, and how the locals lived their lives on the cliffs. You see, back then Cinque Terre was not at all popular as it is now. Back then, all I could see on the TV were five charming villages that I had to visit! Of course, being 15 and never traveling outside the country, this remained just a dream with my teenager self.

However, fast forwarding about 8 years later, I found myself on a train, going from Genova to Monterosso, for a day trip. And I loved it so much that I returned twice more. In this post I am not going to tell you about the beauty of the villages (which you should definitely visit out of the touristic season for an authentic experience) but about the delicious food you can experience. Of course, because of how touristy the area is, there are a lot of average restaurants, so it’s a little bit of a hit and miss when you sit down at a table. The aim of this post is to give you some recommendations about my favourite eateries in the five villages.

 

Where to stay in Cinque Terre

hotel

The second time I was in Cinque Terre I spent five nights at a wonderful hostel which doesn’t seem to exist anymore. There is a private hotel in its place, but I don’t remember the name. The third time I was there I booked a room at Ciao Bella, a beautiful B&B with personalised colour rooms, a beautiful garden with views over the entire village, and a friendly owner, Stefano, who welcomed me with coffee and vouchers for his own take away. As I was there out of season I was the only guest of the B&B, which made me feel like I had the entire building just for myself. The price was very reasonable, and it included towels and toiletries. You can check the latest prices and reviews of Ciao Bella B&B here.

 

Where to eat in Cinque Terre

Have breakfast at Nuovo Eden Bar, in Monterosso (29 Via Fegina)

20171014_104257

It might seem an expensive place, as it’s right on the beach in Monterosso, but it’s not. Service is not the best in the world and it can be quite slow, but the views are definitely worth it. Start your day here with a cappuccino and a cornetto filled with apricot cream.

 

Have anything with pesto at Burgus Bar in Vernazza (Via G. M. Pensa, 3)

pasta-1033216_1920

I don’t know how but I have ended up with both pizza and pasta with pesto at this restaurant. As I have just finished the first part of the Sentiero Azzuro trail, from Monterosso to Vernazza, I searched for a place to have lunch and whilst most of the terraces in the main square by the sea were full, this one was just opening. So, I sat down and ordered both pizza and pasta… with pesto. Which wasn’t a bad choice at all, as both were delicious. If you didn’t know, Liguria is the homeland of pesto, which makes Cinque Terre a perfect place to try the authentic taste of the homemade sauce. If you have time, I recommend to pop into the market in La Spezia and buy some fresh pesto di noci (walnut pesto), which tastes divine. I don’t think I have ever had a better pesto. And no, the pesto in Italy is nothing like the jars we buy back home in England, it is fresh and full of flavour.

 

Stop for a beer on the stairs at A Caneva in Corniglia (Via Fieschi, 10)

20171014_152718

What most attracted me towards this little bar just up the road from the bus station, next to the San Pietro church in Corniglia were the little pillows right on the stairs, which stood as chairs, and the chilled-out music. As I passed by it the first time, it was full, but as I returned, I found an empty table and sat down straight away. It’s a great place to have a drink.

One thing you should know when you visit Italy is that beer is expensive. However, this bar serves artisanal and draft beer much cheaper than in other places. They also serve small snacks with the drinks as well and don’t charge extra for sitting down (coperto). They serve food too, mainly focaccias, bruschetta and pizzas.

 

The seafood platter at Il Porticciolo, Manarola (Via Renato Birolli n.92)

20171014_185612

You can’t go to Cinque Terre and not have a taste of the local fish, like the Ligurian anchovies, mussels, red mullets or squid. I stumbled upon this restaurant as I was coming back from watching the sunset over Manarola, from the promenade. I left as soon as the sun went down, as I wanted to take photos from a different angle as well, and this was my luck, as after I sat down at this restaurant, it very soon got full and people had to wait for hours for a table to become available. A bit pricier than the other places in town, this restaurant serves delicious plates of food, including lobster, swordfish or octopus. I went for the seafood platter, which exceeded my expectations: oysters, prawns with caviar, anchovies in lemon, mussels, tuna, octopus with potatoes, swordfish carpaccio and stuffed squid…. It was a proper feast!

20171014_195219

For dessert I recommend you go for the “make your own cannoli”, where an empty pastry shell will be brought to you on a plate with a bag of cream, walnuts, dried fruits, almonds and chocolate.

 

Pizza at Veciu Muin, Riomaggiore (Via Colombo, 83)

20171013_152431

They might have a touristic menu advertised outside, but their pizza and cold cuts platters are delicious. I was too hungry and got stuck in before I realised that I forgot to take a photo of the cold cuts platter, which was different, as instead of the usual prosciutto and bresaola, on the plate I had smoked swordfish and cured tuna.

My choice of pizza was a quatro stagioni (and you can tell that a slice later I remembered that it would be a good idea to take photo so that I can share it in this food guide for you).

 

End your evening with a cocktail at Bar Zorza (Via Colombo, 231)

20171015_154549

No shot of amaretto or negroni cocktail is your normal average at this bar. Situated just below the B&B I have stayed at, this bar was my nightly stop for a drink, before going to bed. A shot of amaretto looked more like half a glass rather than a small quantity. The Negroni was so strong that I had to ask for a little bit more orange juice. Their other cocktails would come in funky big jars rather than glasses. One thing is for sure, here you do not have to worry that a glass won’t be enough, because it always is. And… there’s happy hour as well, with 2 drinks for the price of one!

 

Bonus:

Tratoria Tre Tori – Portovenere (Piazza Bastreri, 9/a)

20171015_131028

When you spend a few days in Cinque Terre you have to take some time to go to Portovenere as well, a charming town 30 minutes away from Riomaggiore, by boat. Think of colourful uneven buildings glued to each other, with cafes and restaurants at the ground floor overlooking the harbour, and a fortress on top of the rocks, at the end of the promenade. Narrow streets climbing up the hill in a zig zag pattern, with white laundry hanged from one window to another… a random cat passing by in front of a shop selling olive oil and honey. As charming and romantic the town looks, as expensive and touristy orientated it is. However, I did manage to find a local restaurant tucked in at the top of a square just outside the old town, where all the clients seemed to be Italians. The locals always know where to eat good, so always follow them! I was lucky again to not need a reservation, as I got there just before lunchtime, as I had a train to catch back to Pisa from Riomaggiore at 4.

20171015_134431

I have ordered the fried fish platter, which came accompanied by homemade potato and zuchinni crisps. If I knew that I wouldn’t have ordered the extra portion of fries, on the side. There were plenty of big prawns, anchovies, squid and calamari on the plate. It was so good that I went on and ordered dessert as well, the chocolate cake with liquid chocolate in the middle, which was rich and so, so good. If you are a chocolate lover, this is the dessert for you! Of course, accompanied by a glass of local grappa.

 

Disclaimer: Some of the links one this website are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and do a purchase, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. This helps me keep my website running and continue to share my traveling knowledge with you. I thank you for booking your flights or hotels using the links on my website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

45 Comments

  1. I have to admit this is an area I haven’t heard of before, but how awesome does it seem to be to explore and stay in. Hands up I am loving the look of the food and how cool is that glass.

  2. It’s really beautiful out there and it would be nice to enjoy the good food along with the lovely scenery! I appreciate this list that you shared. Everything sounds and looks amazing!

  3. Looks like you had such a fabulous time at Cinque Terre and enjoyed all the food there, loving the the cocktail glass at Bar Zorza. Will defnitely be checking out all these places when we head there.

  4. Cinque Terre is so amazing. We’re like you, we had a bit of a time finding the local places but once you do, the food is amazing. And the fresh seafood! We had our first squid ink pasta in Manola. Of course, the fun of hiking around and exploring these amazing little cities is so fun. We actually stayed in Pisa and would take the train in for the day, which turned out to be very affordable that way.

  5. I am drooling over your pictures, this place looks like heaven for foodies. That pesto pasta, the sea food platter and that pizza, all of them have my special attention, they all look so scrumptious.

  6. I have been to Cinque terre before but belive me or not we never ate in a local restaurant because we were saving money so we were cooking where we stayed. But after reading your post I could hop on any flight now to have that sea food platter! Next time for sure!

  7. I have always wanted to visit Cinque Terre because of the beautiful photos I see but I had no idea that its cuisine is another reason to visit! I love pesto and finding it in this list makes me excited. The seafood platter also looks very delicious! Describing it is a proper feast fits perfectly. 🙂

  8. You had me at pesto pasta! I bet that is just amazing to eat in Terre. And yes, follow the locals to the best places to eat. Gorgeous photos of the food, yum!

  9. First of all, I would like to compliment and thank you for a lovely article. In the travel blogging world of short list articles, I like how you have merged both the lists and long-form with personal anecdotes. I still haven’t been to CT, but just like any other traveller it is a place I would love to visit at least once and being a foodie and a lover of Italian food, this is extremely helpful. Very much interested in your bonus mention and the fried fish platter and kudos for venturing out and about to find local places to eat.

  10. I’m not a traveller, though I wish I was. If I’m ever able to get out, these are the kinds of posts that will be most helpful to me. I gotta say, you definitely made me want to bring this flavor home by making a pesto pasta for dinner tonight and I’d certainly LOVE a croissant right now!

  11. Wow, that place looks like from a fairytale. It reminds me a bit of Portovenere, also in Liguria. Just beautiful.
    The food looks fantastic and makes me immediately hungry again. What I love the most about Italian food is that beside the fact it taste just amazing is that its usually very healthy, especially the seafood. So my personal favourite would definitely be the seafood platter at Il Porticciolo.

  12. Oh my this sounds and looks like a fabulous place to visit. I’m a huge pasta and pesto lover so this caught my eye straight away 🙂

  13. I showed this to one of the kids here and she said the head picture up there is a beautiful painting. Just wow, it’s THAT beautiful. The place looks so dreamy and ambiant, shame that the hostel you stayed at isn’t available anymore but I’m welcome to enjoy your recommendation. Food-wise, I don’t think I’ll be disappointed especially with what I see here. The platters, pizza, cocktails, they’re perfect!

  14. I’ve not heard of this place before! The food looks delicious and I bet the cocktail was good too. It’s great that there are quite a few places you got to eat at as there looks like a great variety.

  15. You are always highlighting beautiful places. I have never heard of Cinque Terre before but i am glad you did. The Ciao Bella looks so cozy and the prices are right. The food looks amazing too.

  16. I have never heard of CinqueTerre before but sounds like a beautiful destination. And all that food looks delicious too. That pizza at Veciu Muin, Riomaggiore looks absolutely divine and makes me hungry now! I’d love to explore all these places that you mentioned and try their food!

  17. There is some really incredible food here! I love the look of the pesto pasta and the glass that your cocktail came in is super cute! It looks like a great trip.

  18. One of my favorite things about traveling Europe was definitely the food!! These photos make me hungry! I love a good coffee and croissant with a view, and the basil pasta looks heavenly!! I think the story about you learning Italian was so interesting!!

  19. This sounds and looks like a fabulous place to visit, love the location and how scenic it is. I am definitely adding this to my bucket list. The room is so beautiful and the food looks great, especially the pizza.

  20. I’ve never heard of Cinque Terre but it looks like a beautiful place with so many delicious food options. The food looks so tempting. I would love to try all these dishes. Ciao Bella sounds like an amazing stay option. Love their room decor and the super comfy bed. Hope to explore this lovely place some day and relish the delicious food.

  21. Your first photo is a view like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I didn’t even know Cinque Terre was a place. But now after seeing what it looks like and all of the great foods I could dine on, I’m going to have to add it to my bucket list.

  22. Did you manage to learn Italian that summer? I an my husband thinking on going on a car trip trough Italy. I woul eat lots of pizza and drink lots of wine

  23. That place looks so awesome and their meals look so delicious and satisfying. I guess it’s another “must add to our bucket list!”

  24. Such a beautiful location to visit, Most blogs I’ve come across highlight where to go so I’m glad to see that the foood and beverage departments stack up just as nicely.

  25. This is high on our travel list for next year and it looks like the food options are almost endless. So excited for the food.

  26. How long did it take you to really learn Italian? What a great goal! That b&b looks stunning. Usually when I think b&b I think of more of a country feel so that is really refreshing.

  27. It looks like many other people must have seen and appreciated the quaint fishing village you did when you were younger. I can see why they did though. It looks pretty amazing right there up against the ocean. And the food there just looks amazing. Sounds like you stayed at a great B&B.

  28. I never would of thought to visit Cinque Terre before. I love you got to stay in the bed and breakfast to yourself and this look like a big foodie city.

  29. I love pesto I haven’t eaten it in ages all the food looks absolutely yummy I am swooning over everything!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.