Restaurants near Alassio?
Here is what I posted in February about Muraglia- Conchiglia d'Oro in Varigotti. Varigotti is a very easy trip from Alassio, about 20 miles.
On the way home from Piemonte, stopped for lunch at Conchiglia D'Oro which, along with La Pineta in Marina di Bibbona, is our favorite fish restaurant in Italy. It is in Varigotti, a small seaside town 10 miles west of Savonna. We've been there more than two dozen times over the past 15 years. With all sincerity, we have never had one single meal where we would say that it was less than excellent. You walk out of the restaurant and you wonder how Enzo does it i.e. how he keeps his standards so high.
A large open airy modern space with a dozen or so well spaced tables, the restaurant faces the lungomare and the sea just beyond. Beautiful view with scattered palms enhancing it.
An overlooked gem of a restaurant. A real gem. Enzo doesn't care what the guides say (although they are always very positive) or even if the guides drop the restaurant because he hasn't responded to some form or other. He just continues to do his own thing, day after day. And what a thing. Menu changes every day. Really. Depending on what is in the market, that is what he makes, on a large open grill in the dining room (with the fish and shellfish in two large ceste filled with ice, in front of him) and in the kitchen proper behind the dining room. Everything is cooked to order and with exquisite care. Seven or eight antipasti, and the same number of primi and secondi. Desserts, surprisingly for an Italian restaurant are fantastic.
Extraordinarily careful preparations and great skill. He really lets the first class ingredients shine and he plates the dishes very appealingly. The pasta, whether trenette, spaghetti or one of the stuffed paste, is ethereal and I know of no "grill man" in France who comes close (and I mean that as a high compliment) in cooking fish and shellfish. A good wine list, all whites, mainly from Liguria, but also from Piemonte, the Alto Adige and Friuli.
Whether it is : filetti di mormora alla ligure with pomodorini, patate, olive, pinoli, capperi; trenette alle cozze, aglio e basilico (which I had yesterday); gnocchi di patate con triglie di scoglio; stoccafisso in Buridda; orata al sale; il passato di pesci di scoglio; i gamberi alla griglia;
spaghetti alle acciughe; trenette con le triglie; in the Spring... rigatoni with tonno e piselli; San Pietro with onions from Tropea; the flavors are just incredible.
re: jen kalb
I think it is really important to recommend restaurants that people have been to, not just those listed in guide books. Guide books can be notoriously biased, including Slowfood.
For example, Palma in Allasio. We've never been there but friends of ours have and had their single worst meal ever in Italy. They said the combinations were bizarre, some of the dinnerware was even more bizarre (Mason jars for pasta) and the service was condescending.
Here are some of the things the restaurant might serve: cappasanta spadeliata in olio ai rhum e riduzione de coca-cola; baccala con salsiccia e fagioli; filetto di triglia con formaggio di capra; cappasanta e foie gras d'anatra; il baaccala goldfish al vapore di bamboo con pasta integrale; un tortello di ricotta "sposato" a una zuppetta di gamberi fatta con la Moka; marron glace' e bottarga di tonno.
Combine this with a high priced wine list ... why would anyone go?
I absolutely agree - guidebooks are good mainly for giving a framework of options and filling in when personal info from trusted sources is lacking.
lists can also be good for eliciting discussion of particular places - now we all know to avoid La Palma with a ten foot pole - Thanks, Allende!
Conchiglia D'Oro (Muraglia Conchiglia D'Oro)
Varigotti, 133 Via Aurelia, Finale Ligure, Liguria 17024, IT
Via Cavour,11, Alassio, Liguria 17031, IT
Hi Allende, I would absolutely agree, sometimes Slow Food restaurants are quite bad, but I must warn you I have been flamed on this forum for saying so. When I investigated about how one gets into the Slow Food Guide to Osterie it turns out that the restaurant makes an application and that's it. Noone comes to check.
But having said that, we have of course, found some wonderful little gems in the Slow Food guide.
That is not what I recall your saying last year. I quote from your post on September 2, 2010:
"After several (local) calls to the Slow Food Editore in Bra we finally got an answer about how the listings are made in the Slow Food Guides.
"A committee does not make the selection; a restaurant or lodging can apply to be listed, or someone can recommend them. There is of course a visit to ensure that the establishment meets the Slow Food criteria."
We used to go to Alassio from time to time for seaside short breaks, although I must admit I haven't been for some years. You will find many restaurants there of course as it is a resort town, usually priced according to the distance from the beach. Our pick was La Prua which is on the beach promenade heading west of the main town, just before the old look-out fort. They have a room facing the sea, so if you book ask for "un tavolo con vista del mare".
Jack's Scampi (yes that's what it was called) on Piazza Partigiani was not bad for lunch too, but not a restaurant I would review.
Alassio also used to have a Thai restaurant, quite a rarity, which was reputed to be good, but we didn't try at the time having just moved from S.E.Asia and not wanting to be disappointed, although walking past in the evening, it looked nice and smelt authentic (so many ethnic Asian restaurants in N. Italy are really Chinese in disguise), if its still there and you want to try, Ban-Thai on Vico Foscolo 8.
If you have time make a visit to Vendone, in the hills above Albenga (which BTW is smaller, with a historic centre and not such a resort town as Allassio) to the olive oil museum.
And try the local Pigato wine, its dryer and not sweet like the bulk Vermentino everyone serves. Two good producers are Vio Claudio in Vendone (we visited him and he also makes a great olive oil) and Lupi.
I must try Conchiglia d'Oro next time I am in Liguria, its close to Noli where we go nowadays for a day's seaside excursion from Piedmont as its closer then Allassio. Varigotti is supposed to have the best beach in Liguria too.
Passeggiata Baracca, Alassio, Liguria 17021, IT
As far as the beach in Varigotti, it is poor, even though it might be the "best" in Liguria. Very narrow, lots of rocks, doesn't look pleasant at all, certainly compared to what we have here in Tuscany. However, no one seems to care and there are always tons of people on the beach.
Reservations are a must at Conchiglia d'Oro.