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Sep 23, 2009 02:02 PM

Traveling to Santa Margherita & Florence Italy... eating with the locals.

I have seen many topics about eating in Florence. However, after research not really any articles containing local eateries in Santa Margherita. I will be there for three days and would like to know if anyone has any favorites.Good, local and inexpensive ideas would be helpful.

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  1. You are talking about Santa Margherita Ligure, yes?

    The place to go is Pestarino's, at via Palestro 10 and 20, but you'll only be able to get lunch and pastries there. You can order food from the gastronomia and eat at the tables.

    Personally, I would go to Chiavari to eat. It is just a train ride away, but the food is superior by leaps and bounds. Farinata at Luchin is the real draw, as well as lounging at the Caffe Defilla, but there are lots of other wonderful full restaurants, and the last time I was there I thought I spotted a branch of Da O Vittoria -- the legendary foccacia al formaggio bakers based in Recco. (It's next to Luchin, if I was seeing correctly.) Get David Downie's guide to the Food and Wine of Genoa and the Italian Riviera -- although I have to say that his one restaurant recommendation for pizza at La Palme didn't work for me. (If you go to La Palme, sit indoors rather than at the car-afflicted roadside tables. But he has great recs for where to find the best foccacie and other cheap treats in Santa Margherita Ligure and nearby.

    If you like gelato, Frigidarium in Rapallo is an extroardinary treat. Their fruit based gelati in season are a revelation. It's opposite the squat castle on the sea promenade.

    For a wonderful if mildly pricey experience of Ligurian seafood and classic food, you can take the bus up from Santa Margherita Ligure to the town of Ruta (15 minutes) and switch to the bus to San Rocco (5 minutes), where you will find La Cucina di Nonna Nina. Go for a great lunch (you need to reserve on weekends) and then walk down the stairs to Camogli (unless you have knee or foot problems -- it's a lot of stairs!) If you don't want to spring for the price of a big lunch at Nonna Nina, the Bar Pippi in San Rocco serves very tasty brushchetta and other panini on foccacia. It's a charming hole in the wall. The owner's father runs the butcher shop underneath Nonna Nina, and if you are there in cooler months, he makes a fantastic "testa in cassetta" and on weekends, cima al genovese. Both are good cold and sliced.

    If you visit Camogli, I am extremely fond of eating at La Creperie, right on the Lungomare, which is very cheap and fun. The crepes are always fresh, and if you are lucky, you can get them with baby octopus in season. But smoked tuna is also good, and I also like mine with an egg, some chopped tomato and rucola. Very cheap and a million dollar view. For gelato in Camogli, try La Primula. For a goof in hot weather, sit on the fab terrace of the Bar Auriga and order a pinguino ice cream treat. For a glass of wine, go all the way to the far side of the fishing harbor and have a glass of Rossese at I Tre Merli, and if you like, you can get plate of salami or cheese to go with it.

    have a great time!

    2 Replies
    1. re: summerUWS2008

      Lot's of great info! Thank you very much. I wrote it all down and will be using your suggestions.

      1. re: summerUWS2008

        PS: I want to add that if you crave one meal with a splendid, splendid view of the sea, head for lunch in Camogli at Rosa's. You will have to walk a bit uphill from the train station, toward Genova, and use a staircase to get to the restaurant. (If you take the bus from Santa Margherita Ligure, change at Ruta for the Camogli bus and tell the driver you want Rosa's. The bus stops outside the door.)

        Rosa's has addictive pesto al lasagne and fine fritto misto. It does everything acceptably well, although I would bypass its meat antipasti and secondi. Desserts can be fun, but bypass the camogliese in favor of meringues dripping in chocolate sauce or find out what the torta of the day is. Actually, it's better to repair for dessert to La Primula, for a gelato or poke around the bakeries for a camogliese au rhum.

      2. Osteria No. 7 is an inexpensive "local" eatery a few steps from the harbor on the Portofino side. Make sure to focus on the fresh dishes, and not the frozen ones marked by the asterisk. Pastas and soups were good when I ate there last year. There are a number of posts about this town that you should be able to find with a search here. No reservations.

        1 Reply
        1. re: erica

          If you go to Portofino, you could end up with a very tasty gelato from the gelateria that is also just a few steps from the tourist boat dock -- NOT the first one see, but head a bit up toward the via Roma (toward the hills) and you will see it on the left, just past the Delfino, advertisting its scoops as "artiginale." I was surprised my caffe gelato was so good -- since I've never had good experiences eating in Portofino, but every now and then, luck is with you!