Cinque Terre (Santa Margherita, Monterroso) cheap, delicious eats?
My last post was too broad, so I am going to narrow it down by individual regions. My parents are going to Italy soon to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, and they will spend a few days in Cinque Terre. They are big supporters of the Slow Food Movement, and will spend time seeking out local spots (no tourist traps) that offer delicious, inexpensive food. Thanks in advance for your recommendations!
We were in the Cinque Terre and Santa Margherita two years ago. In my experience, there was no such thing as a bad meal. In the Cinque Terre, the hills are alive with the scent of basil through the summer and fall, the fish is fresh and the produce is wonderful. Yes, the Cinque Terre has been "discovered", thanks, in part, to Rick Steves, but it's still largely unspoiled because of the inaccessibility of the towns. Part of the evening's pleasure is to stroll through town and examine the menus that are posted outside virtually every restaurant before making a dining decision. So, the "delicious" part of your request is easy; the "inexpensive" part is more of a challenge, unless your folks are staying in a villa or apartment with a kitchen so they can go to town and buy what they need to prepare their own meals.
Santa Margherita has numerous wonderful restaurants as well, and even upscale Portofino, a scenic 10-minute bus ride away, allows visitors to be immersed in the beauty of the town and the waterfront without feeling they're in a tourist trap. That can't be said for the larger cities and towns.
This response may not provide the specific recommendations you were looking for; it's more a reassurance that they won't be disappointed with the food in this incredibly lovely part of Italy.
My wife and my favorite is Osteria a Cantina de Mananan in Corniglia. Corniglia is a 2 minute train ride from Monterosso. It is authentic and the ambiance is wonderful. It's located in a small alley in the village. The menu changes daily and is written on a blackboard. The restaurant holds about 10-15 people so you need to make a reservation. Many people get turned away because they don't have reservations. The phone number is (011) 39-0187-821166. Its an unforgettable experience.
Also, Miki in Monterosso al Mare is very good and you can reserve an outdoor seat looking out at the water.
I have just returned within the last two weeks from Santa Margherita. We always stay at the Metropole if we can get a reservation. We stayed in their Villa this year, where it was so warm in early March that we left the windows open to listen to the waves breaking on base of the building. In the off-season but perhaps always, they have a dining special which allowed us to enjoy a full dinner in their fine dining room for 15E each. Now that is not only cheap but it's outstanding food. The sommelier recommended a Ligurian red wine we had never tried, Durin Granccia "Colline Savonesi". Even when it has been snowing in Venice or Florence, it is always warm in Santa Margherita, one of my favorite places in the world.