The View from Villa Cilla in Lerici today...
No more words necessary.
Eating Well in the Golf of Poets
Unfortunately, there is some truth to the idea that when visiting seaside resort towns, expect to spend a lot and eat mediocre. I have spent years traveling throughout Italy’s coast only to have been disappointed more times than not by the “sub-par food served with a view”. So, this is my attempt at uncovering the "thumbs up" places to eat in the Gulf of Poets:
Via Cavour 55, Lerici
Tel: 0187 965500
Closed on Tuesdays
This tiny and cute trattoria tucked away on a small alleyway of Lerici serves consistently good food plus excellent pizza and farinata (a local specialty somewhat like a chickpea pancake).
Via Cavour, 21, Lerici
Tel: 0187 964174
Closed on Mondays
For a full dining experience, this converted olive mill practically across the alleyway from Bonta probably serves the best food in the village. Try their never-ending “antipasto al mare” and the branzino filled ravioli.
i Doria at Doria Park Hotel
Closed on Mondays in the low season only
I find most hotel restaurants to be just passable, but the Doria Park has a great chef who specializes in creative seafood dishes. In addition, service is a big notch above most dining establishments in the area.
Golfo dei Poeti
Via Calata Mazzini 19, Lerici
Tel: 0187 967 414
Closed on Thursdays
If you have to be on the water, than this is your best bet (note, most places in the piazza or along the waterfront are just as I described in the first paragraph). Food is good (not out of this world) and they serve a decent pizza. Good place with children as the have a varied menu and lots of space.
Closed on Mondays
Located on the seafront road in San Terenzo, this is a nice restaurant offering tables inside and out. They serve an excellent gilled fish platter and there fritto misto is pretty darn good too.
Open everyday and evening from April to October
While not exactly a restaurant, you don’t want to miss an aperitivo in this “tree-house” like bar overlooking a tiny cove of San Terenzo. Great views, nice music, total relaxed mood and good cocktails make this a great way to spend the early evening.
Also, located along the “lungomare” of San Terenzo, they serve a limited but decent menu of pastas and salads. You can dine right on the rocks overlooking the entire Golf of Poets. They also happen to serve the best coffee around.
Via Fiascherino 100, Tellaro
Tel: 0187 964 000
Closed on Tuesdays
A charming trattoria located in Tellaro, you will enjoy a menu of typical ligurian dishes (pesto, pasta with fruits of the sea) but also big, delicious salads and a decent wine list.
Via Fiascherino 92, Tellaro
Tel: 0187 964 012
Closed on Mondays
For years this was the “grand-dame” of restaurants in Lerici (Tellaro to be exact) with a Michelin one-star rating. It still is one of the better places to eat, just know it is a seafood only restaurant with a fixed menu, without exception.
Via Borea 52, Montemarcello (near Zanego, a 12 minute drive from Lerici)
Tel: 0187 601 388
Open for dinner only Wednesday- Sunday
This charming “locanda” hiding in the hills of the Montemarcello National Park gets my vote for the best restaurant in the Riviera Levante (ok, ties with Locanda delle Tamerici which just misses being in the Gulf of Poets). They serve a divine “surf and turf” menu and some of the best, unknown wines in Italy. Be adventurous here. I was once served a pudding of “seppia” (cuttlefish) and I could have swore I was eating dessert. To die for!
Località Zanego (a 10 minute drive from Lerici)
Tel: 0187 966952
If you have a craving for carne (meat) then look no farther. It’s all (great) beef and a little pork at this homey restaurant located in Zanego in the hills above Lerici. We have always eaten well here, but also be prepared to pay the price.
Montemarcello Focaccia Bar
I don’t know what else to call it. We’ve been going there for years and I am sure it has a name but everyone refers to it as “La Focacceria di Montemarcello”. It’s not hard to find as it’s located on the only road you can drive through the village. They serve 3-4 different, fresh, steaming and delicious focaccia sandwiches with dining in their yard. Literally, this is a home where they put a bar on the side of it. Best idea is to hike your way there (views could not be more amazing) and reward yourself with one of these “melt in your mouth” sandwiches.
If I Could Be Anywhere
in Italy Today...
It would be Modica. She is one of (several) “gems” you will find tucked away in the countryside of S.E. Sicily. A town known for its 100 churches, fabulous granular chocolate, elegant baroque architecture and Mediterranean climate that produces the first vegetables and fruit of the season.
Modica is positioned on two gorges giving it a dramatic “crawling” appearance (and also the ability to have fabulous views from either side). In the 17th century it was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake and then reconstructed primarily in Baroque style. There are endless beautiful and interesting palaces and landmarks to discover as well as a labyrinth of small alleyways with old artisan shops to explore.
We’ve been going to Modica for years now and her beauty never seizes to amaze me. She is a great base for exploring the Val di Noto, Ragusa, Siracusa, Marzamemi, Vendicari and other "lesser know gems” of the most southern part of Sicily (main island that is). We recommend at least 2 full days here, 3 being optimal, but don’t think you get bored devoting a week here. Vacci subito!