Looking for the best restaurants in Cinque Terre Italy? With seemingly endless delicious places to eat (and even more tourists traps just waiting for the next sucker to walk in), I have made a curated selection of my top 6 best restaurant recommendations in Cinque Terre for seafood, pasta and desserts (oh my).
Hi girls, how are you today?
Do you like seafood?
I bet you also love Italian food, right?
I mean, who doesn’t?
Be it spaghetti (my personal favorite), gnocchi, lasagna… Bring those carbs in, my friend!
Furthermore, I bet you would also struggle to resist a Tiramisu for dessert, or even a fresh gelato after a long day under the sun, am I wrong?
7 Best Restauranst in Cinque Terre, Italy
Eating out in a restaurant while in Cinque Terre is like flipping a coin: You can either have an amazing dining experience, or you can pay a lot for a meal that is less than impressive.
Lucky for you, you do not necessarily need a massive list of places for your trip, you just need the BEST (and guess what? I’ve got some pretty amazing recommendations for you in this post).
Having returned to Cinque Terre this summer with my mother for 5 beautiful days under the Italian sun, I was sure to do my research beforehand to be sure that we would eat at the top restaurants Cinque Terre has to offer.
After reading a few random blog posts, it didn’t take me long to realize that most bloggers were recommending the same spots to eat, and that could only mean two things: either those places were genuinely amazing, or they were touristic clichés (something that I try to avoid when I travel).
Either way, I wrote down these places and decided that I’d figure it out while I was there.
Lucky for me, that I stayed at an amazing and charming little hotel at the top of Manarola, and it didn’t take me long to befriend the hotel owner with my broken Italian.
I asked him for some restaurant recommendations for our first night in Manarola and was surprised to find out that he didn’t recommend any of the places that I had written down to try. In fact, the first place he recommended to me was a delightful little place at the top of Manarola’s hill that specialized in Focaccias (located just behind our hotel).
(PS I’ve written a post on what to eat in Cinque Terre here). coming soon
It didn’t take me more than one bite from our delicious Foccacia to immediately know that Stefano knew al the good places to eat, that were outside of the touristic scope. From that day, until my last in Cinque Terre, I followed religiously all of his recommendations.
Keep reading if you’d like to know more about these 7 top places to eat in Cinque Terre recommended by Stefano:
Cinque Terre has amazing things to eat, especially if you are a seafood lover.
WHAT ARE THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN CINQUE TERRE?
# 1 A PIÈ DE CAMPU
As soon as I arrived at the hotel, I immediately asked the owner to help me make some dinner arrangements.
As I have previously explained on this post about rookie mistakes visitors do when going to Cinque Terre, forgetting to make dinner reservations is a major faux-pas and could leave you missing out on dining at your top picks.
So, literally the first thing I did was ask Stefano to book La Trattoria del Billi (I talk about it below), and of course, it was fully-booked not only fir the day of my arrival but also the following day.
Stefano told me that even though it was a touristic place, he still recommended it as they served the freshest fish in Manarola. He kindly made the reservation for us for our third day and recommended me trying a charming little focaccia place located just behind our hotel.
To me that sounded like the perfect place, as it was close by. Considering just how exhausted my mother and I were, all we wanted was something easy and yummy. He helped us by making the reservations, and 2 hours later, there were we, sitting at the terrace of the A Pie di Campu.
Just as Stefano had described, there were no pasta plates in their menu, as their specialty was Focaccia.
Both my mother and I were quite hungry, as we hadn’t eaten much during our train ride to Cinque Terre, but the girl serving us kindly informed that sharing one focaccia would be more than enough for both of us.
I was still hesitant if I should have ordered an appetizer, but trusted and word on it (and boy, am I glad I did). The focaccia was
In one order, you can pick two different types of focaccia. This meant we ordered one with Parma Ham and the other with tomatoes and stracciatella (a creamy, white Italian cheese). I paired it with a glass of local white dry wine, and it was a delicious first meal.
The restaurant ambiance was also adorable. Many families and even though it was completely full, it was not hectic and didn’t feel touristic at all. The service was also great, and everyone in the staff was very friendly and welcoming to us.
We absolutely loved it!
Ah, and they also had one of the best Tiramisu I ever tried (it was slightly different in texture, being a little bit frozen. Sooooo
#2 TRATTORIA DAL BILLY
The infamous Trattoria dal Billi lived up to its expectations, but it was not at all my favorite spaghetti with clams in Manarola (keep reading to find out which one was the top pic to eat in Cinque Terre).
As I said in my Cinque Terre Guide when I wrote about the amazing hotel experience I had at Rio Groppo, I believe Stefano (the hotel owner) is quite the guy in Cinque Terre and he seems to be well-known around (all the places he booked for us we had honestly the best tables).
It wasn’t any different at Trattoria dal Billi. In fact, when Stefano told me he had gotten us the last table for the day he booked, I was sure it would be those back-of-the-house-close-to-the-bathroom-tables, and I couldn’t be more wrong.
Even though he didn’t manage to get us a terrace seat, I was surprised to find that when we arrived, all the tables were already seated, except a super cute one next o the seaside window view. When the waiter told me it was out table, I was really impressed.
So what about the food?
My mother had selected the fresh pasta with shrimps and I was really in doubt if I should get the same as her, or the spaghetti alle vongole (my personal favorite (and the waiter kindly suggested that she could ask the chef to make the one I wanted, but with fresh pasta instead, and I immediately agreed to it.
It was not bad, but if I can be honest, I like it with the spaghetti al dente much more, so I would not recommend this switch. This meant I left the restaurant still craving spaghetti
#3 DA ARISTIDE
This was the first recommendation of the best restaurants in Cinque Terre that Stefano told me about. The ambiance is nice, but a bit too bright for my dining taste (too much light for a night ambiance. Even though I was traveling with my mother and was not looking for any romance, I still appreciate a darker environment).
But you can immediately feel that you are not in a tourist’s first choice of a place because the restaurant is a bit hidden from the main street (so if you don’t know where to look, you will not find Da Aristide).
I LOVED the spaghetti
My mother is not a clam lover and asked if they could make hers only with shrimps, which they agreed too. I’ve honestly never seen a pasta with so many shrimps in my life (couldn’t resists stealing a few for myself, even though my plate also came with shrimps).
As an appetizer, we had the smoked swordfish Carpaccio and it was also extremely fresh and tasty (recommend it).
The only bad thing about this place is that they didn’t have tiramisu for dessert (I don-t eat a lot of sweets, so when I like something that is sweet, I tend to obsess over it). This meant I ate tiramisu basically for breakfast, lunch
#4 NESSUN DORMA
I bet you whatever yu want that 99% of Cinque Terre Guides will include Nessun Dorma in their list of best restaurants in Cinque Terre (and for good reason).
While they don’t serve full meals (only bruschetta and appetizers), your visit to Manarola isn’t complete without a glass of wine at Nessun Dorma. Hands down the most scenic place for a sunset drink!
As this is a place that I’ve literally read about in EVERY.BLOG.POST.I.READ I’ve decided that it sounded touristic, but there must be something about this place. The pictures alone are enough to convince anyone on trying Nessun Dorma.
I tried calling in advance to make a reservation, but they told me they do not take tables in advance, but I was kindly informed that the table turnover is very fast and that I wouldn’t have to wait too much if I arrived and asked for it.
Truth be told, we didn’t wait for more than 5 minutes to be seated, but I was a bit sad we did not have those tables directly overlooking the view, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying a beautiful snack after swimming all day.
We ordered some bruschetta and a tray of cold cuts. It really is a shame we were only two of us because I wanted to try more things in the menu but the plates were too large and we wouldn’t be able to finish even if we wanted.
I also had a lemon caipirinha to pair it up (gotta try those Cinque Terre lemons).
Even though the food was delicious and the ambiance to die for, I could immediately tell how touristic this place was: with rushed waiters that didn’t smile much and expensive prices (especially when comparing it to places such as Da Aristide and A Pie di Campu).
Still, Nessum Dorma is definitely a place you have to stop by to eat in Cinque Terre.
#5 LA CANTINA DEL MACELLAIO – Riomaggiore
One day we decided to have dinner at Riomaggiore (this meant taking a night train to the next village).
Stefano’s wife recommended us a delicious meat place owned by a New Yorker that had been living in Cinque Terre for over 20 years.
We decided to give it a go. Even though it was a meat place, we didn’t feel as hungry as we should be for a heavy meat dinner, so we opted to order their special ‘’squared’’ gnocchi (we did have some meat as appetizers though).
At first, I was hesitant to try Gnocchi at a meat place, but I was craving it so much that I simply had to try it and boy am I glad I did: it was THE BEST gnocchi I’ve ever eaten!
Granted it was differently cooked, and maybe not comparable to regular gnocchi, but oh myyyy, it was so so so tasty!!!
I loved this place and it is high on my list of best restaurants in Cinque Terre! But keep in mind it is quite pricey! (kind of like fine dining in Cinque Terre).
#6 TUTTI FRITTI – Riomaggiore
The infamous seafood cones that everyone seems to eat in Cinque Terre. Riomaggiore has a few options of these, but the Tutti Fritti was the one with the longest queues, so we decided to give that one a go.
It was really nice as a laid-back lunch while sitting on the pavement.
Note that I was really hungry and decided to order the big one, but it was unnecessary. I tried my best, but neither my mother nor I could finish the cone (we ordered a big one each).
So even if you are starving, I would recommend going for the smaller one. They don’t look like a lot when you are ordering but trust me they are very filling. Plus, as everything is fried, you can get tired of it pretty fast.
TIP: Don’t forget to wash your hands and mouth after using the lemon (these yellow fruits can cause serious burns if you are under the sun).
That’s it guys. There are my top picks for Cinque Terre.
I understand I didn’t put options for Vernazza, Monterosso or Corniglia, but simply because we didn’t eat at those islands. I found Vernazza too hectic and touristic and did not want to eat there, while Corniglia we did stop for Gelatos and some drinks at the Seaview lookout.
At Monterosso, as we were all day with a sunbed and sun umbrella, we bought some focaccias at a little restaurant just in front of the beach and had it as a snack during the day (and headed back to
PLANNING A TRIP ANY TIME SOON?
Which restaurant did you like the most? I’d love to get more insights so that I can try new things to eat in Cinque Terre for my next visit. Share what are the best restaurants in Cinque Terre in your opinion and I might try it next time I go.
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