Long report (on 3 restaurants only!) from Viareggio
Last month, we spent 3 days in Viareggio and really loved it. Stayed at the Principe de Piedmont which is an nice hotel with a beautiful pool, and it was a wonderful base for our trips to Pisa, Cinque terre and Lucca. And we ate surprisingly well. Best lunch was at La Dorsena, Via Virigilio 150 near the Benetti boat yards in a small uninteresting back street of Viareggio. Simple local restaurant with the menu in Italian only. A good sign - No tourists here. Specialites were Bavette with different seafood – calamaretti, fish, vongole, lobster. The kids ordered the Bavette with calamaretti - amazing, Gnocchi al Pomodoro (excellent)and Fritto Misto Calamare et Gamberi (a huge plate of perfectly fried prawns, calamari and a huge selection of chunky vegetables, also fried - this was outstanding). My husband had a Taglierini with ragu al pesce et pinoli (fish ragout with pine nuts). He thought the fish was a little fishy (he is very fishy fussy), but he loved the homemade pasta itself and the sauce. I was going to order Spaghetti all vongole but the waiter talked me into Bavette with Cannolicio, the local (Razor) clams. Drinking an extra dry Con alto Prosecco, a cold delicious sparkling wine. Perfect for lunch on a hot day. All the food was absolutely outstanding. My razor clams were so delicious. The shells are straight and long (about 3cm) and the clams are then removed cut into bits. Perfect thick spaghetti (Bavette) tossed with olive oil, garlic, clams and parsley. Best one I have eaten I think. Photo below.
We had one dinner at Il PuntoDivino which was also wonderful. Puntodivino. Via Mazzinni, 229. A few blocks back from the beach.Tiny little shopfront restaurant. No-one inside. The Maitre’d/waiter takes us through, past a few café tables. No-one there. Ok, how bad can it be? He takes us past the kitchen to a back room with shelves to the ceiling holding many wine bottles. Two tables. One for 5 – ours. And another for 10. Empty. Like someone’s dining room! So quaint and interesting. Italian menu. So far veryy happy! I had the "I “pici” del Morelli, erbe aromatiche e pomodori" - Pici with aromatic herbs and pomodoro. So so so good. Thick spaghetti “Pici” cooked so perfectly al dente. A little chewy. Pasta with substance and bite. Not quite a tomato sauce but imagine long-cooked chunks of tomato with herbs and a little olive oil. Just coated each strand of pasta with a few pieces of tomato still visible. No sauce on the plate at the end. A little spicy finish – chilli perhaps?
Husband had a large rigatoni, called Pachete, with tiny baby calamari (calamaretti). He was in absolute heaven . Large fat tubes of pasta tossed with olive oil, a few tiny sautéed calamari and some julienned roasted capsicums on the top. Simple yet perfect.
Main course for me was Seppiette in umido con fagiolini “stringhe” - squid, stewed with String beans and tomatoes. Imagine tiny tiny green string beans cooked with a sweet tomato sauce until it all melds together. The sauce was more delicious than the actual squid which I think I am starting to find a little difficult to eat since my black ink gnocchi experience in Venice.
Kids had the Agnello (lamb) which were 3 simple lamb chops seasoned beautifuly with herbs and salt, and simply grilled. Served with crispy potato slices. Happy kids. another one had the Tagliata di controfiletto caramellata al cabernet (Sirloin!), also well seasoned and grilled. FORTUNATELY they had no ketchup when he asked for it. How to ruin a good steak….
Husband had the Fillet of Branzino (sea bass) with Vongole. Too plain for him. Read the menu I say. Fish with clams is fish with clams. I thought it was so simple and well cooked with the juice of the clams and olive oil.
For Dolci they offered us Chocolate soufflé which of course we all jumped at, but actually turned out to be little soft centred hot chocolate puddings. The outside was very cakey and the inside was molten chocolate made with a delicious dark high quality chocolate. Excellent! They also had an incredible selection of house made ice creams (white and dark chocolate, guanjia (?) and various sorbets - pear, pink grapefruit) which we, unfortunately, were too stuffed to try. Till next time.
Very happy with the restaurant and I would SO highly recommend it. Would go back in a flash, particularly for the pastas…..
Last restaurant we went to was Da Romano. We didn't love it although some of the food was great. Very stuffy and formal. Curtains on the windows all closed when it was still light outside did not set a good scene. The highlight was the sweet sparkling wine - Moscato d'Asti - which is a great drink when the weather is so hot. My insalata mista was excellent and very fresh. My pasta with lobster was gluggy and ordinary. Husband loved his Eggplant parmigiana - was the best he ate anywhere. WOuldn't go back.
Happy eating! :)
Bavette has become one of my favorite Italian pastas -- even just boxes of it from Barilla -- and I cannot for the life of me figure out why it is better than linguine, which it so closely resembles, but it is!
Hi hank64, great review.
I am going to be in Lucca at the beginning of May and definitely want to go to Viareggio for a meal. Do you remember approximate costs of La Dorsena and Il PuntoDivino? And if you had to choose just one for a dinner, which would it be?