Liguria: Camogli restaurant recommendations

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    Michael Horne
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    Finding CamogliCamogli (pronounced “kah-MOHL-yee”)  is one of my favorite Ligurian beach towns.  Just a few train stops due-east of Genova and along the train line that heads to the Cinque Terre, it’s an easy stop for those keen to explore a workaday Italian coastal town that still supports a decent fishing industry and has more residents than tourists.

    You can day-trip here from the Cinque Terre (about an hour’s train ride) and explore the shops along the parallel narrow roads that cascade down the hillside to the harbor.  Frankly, I come here for the food, with oodles of small eateries and focaccia shops available to explore the local Ligurian cuisine.

    Yeah, fish is a BIG deal in CamogliIf you’re lucky enough to be in Camogli in early May, you should visit during the weekend of the Sagra del Pesce where they roll out the world’s largest frying pan (18 feet across & weighing 8000 pounds!) and fry up some of the freshest fish, calamari, and other tasty items, all caught by the local fishermen.

    For dining in Camogli, here are a few of my favorites.  It’s best to make a reservation if you want to dine at any of these places, just call the number listed or have your hotel make the reservation for you.

     

    Lunch and Dinner.

    Ostaia da o Sigu (Via Giuseppe Garibaldi 82 , tele: +39.0185.770.689, website) is a romantic place with fabulous views and very good local dishes.  The dishes are simple but wonderfully flavorful, like the spaghetti with anchovies and local cherry tomatoes, and the chestnut trofie pasta with potatoes, green beans and pesto.  If you’re hungry, try their herbed swordfish dish, pesce spada agli agrumi, it’s delicious.  Service can be a little slow at times, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to savor the view, the food and the scene.

    Freshest Med fish you'll ever tasteSemmu Fritti (Via Piero Schiaffino 22, tele: +39.348.881.7524) is a tribute to fried fish.  Ultra fast service, as everything is flash-fried just as you order, and served simply in a paper cone or plate. Fried anchovies, fried shrimp, fried calamari, fried fish…  Heaven.  No reservation required, just show up and order.

    Ristorante Mille e Una Notte (Via Aurelia 31, Ruta di Camogli , tele: +39.0185.770.310  , website) means “a thousand and one nights,” and you’ll wish you could stay here for that long once you’ve visited them.  This place is a little ways off the waterfront, but worth the trek if you have wheels, like to walk, or can find a taxi.  Classed as a “ristorante” (and therefore a few steps up in polish from a classic trattoria or osteria), you’ll find nice table linens, thoughtful service, and a very complete menu and a decent wine list.  For antipasto, try their tender octopus salad with potato, artichoke and rosemary.  The primo dishes are impressive, and I’m a fan of their Lasagnette gratinate con crostacei e pesto – think mini lasagna with crab and pesto.  They have regional classics like pansotti in a hazelnut cream sauce, and a number of roasted or fried local fish dishes.  This place tends to be fill up with locals, so it’s a good idea to make a reservation.

    Bar Dai Muagetti (Via Mortola2, tele: +39.346.512.6655, website)  Okay, this isn’t really a restaurant, it’s a bar.  Not just any bar, but a bar with a jaw-dropping view.  It’s well worth the hike (and it is a hike) to get to this bar.  Sip an Aperol Spritz or a glass of minerally Vermentino while you blissfully enjoy stunning views of the coastline toward Genova.  About an hour before dusk is the best time to go.

    Olive focaccia to die forFocaccia to die for.

    Liguria is known for fabulous focaccia.  I’m not talking about that thick, floppy, bready stuff we eat here in the States – Ligurian focaccia is thin, crispy on the bottom, and has a bit of a crunch when you bite in, with a soft and luxurious center.  You’ll understand once you taste it, and you’ll probably swear off American focaccia forever.  I’m not kidding.

    Camogli has a number of focaccierie sprinkled throughout the town where you can buy a slice (plain, rosemary, pesto, tomato, olive, or my favorite, onion) or a sheet, just as it’s coming out of the oven.  They have a specialty known as Fugassette a-u Formaggio, a kind of focaccia stuffed with creamy crescenza cheese.  Try a slice and see what you think.  Here are a few focaccierie you can try.  I suggest you hit them all to compare-and-contrast:

    Revello Focaccieria (Via Giuseppe Garibaldi 183, website) makes wonderful focaccia and a number of other baked goodies, like cookies & biscotti.  I’m mostly a fan of their focaccia, but you’ll probably be seduced into trying their cookies – go for it.

    O’ Becco Fin (Via Giuseppe Garibaldi 169) is in a perfect location along the waterfront; grab a slice of focaccia to chomp while you mosey down the promenade.

    In Sciö Canto (Salita Priaro 1) is a little bakery that’s busy baking fresh focaccia all day long.  Some locals think it’s the best in Camogli.  You’ll have to try it and decide for youself.

    Meat!

    Feel like you’ve eaten enough Mediterranean fish to last a lifetime?  Don’t despair, meat lovers will rejoice when they step into this place:

    Braceria Le Gole di Cerbero (Via Giuseppe Garibaldi 192, tele: +39.0185.771.101, website) is a steak lover’s paradise.  They serve up fabulous steaks and tagliata from Piemonte and Toscana grilled over hard wood embers (bistecca alla brace), some of them served with creamy regional cheeses or a razor thin slice of Lardo di Colonnata.  For raw beef fans, they offer some wonderful tartar dishes as well.  Simple salad and fries are available as a side, and in the summer months they bring in fresh burrata style mozzarella from Puglia and pair it up with the region’s delicious tomatoes.  The wine list is well thought out, you’ll find both Ligurian reds (Rosesse!  Ormeasco!) and exceptional labels from throughout Italy at reasonable prices.  When you just can’t handle any more fish, try these guys.


    Just for fun, here’s a short video of the pescatori frying up fish at the Camogli Sagra del Pesce (Fish Festival), with a nice view of the harbor along Via Giuseppe Garibaldi. Fish is a really big deal here. Enjoy!

    Michael Horne, CS
    Los Gatos, CA USA

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