Cinque Terre Finalists (does Il Pirata really serve frozen pasta?!!)
First of all, yes I did search all posts on Cinque Terre. That's actually how I decided I wanted to have both breakfast AND dinner at Il Pirata in Vernazza (We're staying in Vernazza two nights).
Then as I was trying to get more info on Il Pirata (like if they close any nights) I stumbled upon many reviews (some in tripadvisor for instance) that said that dinner at Il Pirata was as horrible experience because they serve frozen pasta dishes. I am quite confused-- so many wonderful posts and then more than handful of outraged reports of this. I'm still wanting to try it, wanting not to believe this, but as I only have 2 nights in Vernazza, I don't want to mess up.
The other night in Vernazza I'm trying to decide between Gianni Franzi and Il Gambero Rosso. For some reason in my notes I gave G.Rosso top priority but now revisiting the reviews on trip advisor, I feel like swapping.
I'm especially into pesto, if that is a tie breaker.
Our third night I am quite decided will be at Miky (and correlates perfectly to us sleeping in Monterosso that night)
For lunches, I have La Laterna in Riomaggiore
Marina Picola in Manarolo
and Focaccia il Frontoio in Monterosso. (Though typical chowhound that I am, I've planned food before activities and I suppose that our hiking/activity schedule would impact lunch practicality.
Thank you in advance and I promise a lengthy report back on CT and Rome. (And the places I visit in France!)
We ate at Cantina di Mananan in Corniglia in September and really enjoyed it. Corniglia is small and probably the least touristy of the Cinque Terre towns. Before dinner we ducked into a small bar that was a door or two down from the restaurant and enjoyed some nice local Ligurian white wine. I'd definitely recommend this place.
If you are on the run for lunch, you can probably grab some bread and cheese and meats from many local stores and bakeries. This is actually a good option as the Focaccia bread is very Ligurian and something you should try.
Although I have been in Cinque Terre, we didn't eat at any restaurants there. That might be because we had been travelling through Liguria beforehand and had gotten our fill already!
In Cinque Terre (we stayed in RioMaggiore) we were happy to buy fresh fish, roast it in the kitchen of our tiny apartment and sprinkle it with olive oil and salt and eat it with a side of focaccia bread. Simple and delicious.
In the afternoon, we would stop and have some Sciacchetrà and an espresso at one of the cafes. In the evening, we would usually boil some trofie pasta and eat it with a homemade pesto sauce and anchovies.
All of the above mentioned things - fish, anchovies, focaccia, trofie, sciacchetra, pesto - are unique to this area. It was my impression of Cinque Terre (and Liguria in general) that the local food was more about unique ingredients than about a unique style of cooking. That is not to say to avoid restaurants - I wish we had had the time to do so, now - but that food doesnt have to be overly prepared either. And sometimes a pleasant hike is worth missing a meal for! :)
All that said, my wife reminded me that we did have breakfast one day at Il Pirata. We happened to be in Vernazza to buy some fish, she was hungry so we stopped here to have some pastries and coffee. The pastries were delicious, cannot comment on their other food. I do recall getting a strong touristy-vibe from the place - the owner was speaking in English with some other tourists - but take that with a grain of salt since, as I mentioned, we had just come from rural Liguria and tiny towns where everybody on the streets gave us suspicious looks!
Thank you all. I've found enough encouraging info now on Il Pirata to give it a shot one night. And also for breakfast, I want to try those Sicilian pastries. I have been reading Katie Parla's blog but missed the cinque terre additition, very excited to see that! I know that the area is very touristy and am prepared.....my boyfriend was very interested in going after so many recommendations from friends. And now I'm excited-it is Pesto Land after all, one of my favorite things in the world. It's only three nights and then five in Rome!!
Ive not been to Cinque Terre, and maybe it gets less love on Chowhound than other areas - I think that SummerUWSetc who lives in the area nailed the issue with the huge amount of tourism - anyway I cracked my Slowfood Guide and found the following FWIW:: A Cantina di Mananan in Corniglia -among other things they have pesto and pansoti with walnut sauce., in Monterosso (actually Beo, in the hills above the village proper) they list Il Ciliego ; in Riomaggiore, Ripa del Sole, Via dei Gaspari 282 in the upper part of the village.
Im not so shocked about frozen pasta - we eat it here, after all for convenience - maybe they just make it ahead or something, but again, in a heavily touristic zone without a big labor force corners will be cut.
Hope you have a great visit there.