Restaurants in the Cinque Terre can shock you.
Some are excruciatingly mediocre. And some can be so outstanding — you buy a mortar and pestle immediately upon returning home, because you’ve become a die-hard pesto person.
The majority of the Cinque Terre villages have just one main street. The streets are lined with places to eat (Manarola is lined with boats, and the shop doors are just sprinkled between the boats). You can eat your way up one side of the street, and then down the other. It’s all there. Perfectly compact. Adorable. Delicious.
You don’t need a massive list of places for your trip, you just need the best.
The thing about traveling is that you’re often on the move. Just when you get your bearings and find the places you like – you’re gone. That’s why it’s not uncommon for travelers to eat at the same place for two nights, even if they are just staying for three. Why? Because it was good the first time, and you don’t want to waste your time “finding” the good stuff. I think there’s a better way. I hope you use this list.
For a decade, I’ve been eating my way through the Cinque Terre.
I want to save you 10 hours of research on Trip Advisor right now. The problem with looking on Trip Advisor for the Cinque Terre is that all five villages (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso) have separate reviews. You have to comb through them all. Don’t bother.
If you want to consult Trip Advisor anyways, I’ve made a list of the top 10 restaurants in all the villages combined. The villages are so close, like minutes away from each other on the train, that you should feel free to village-hop for good eats. You’ll see the list further down the page.
Restaurants in the Cinque Terre: Bianca’s Top 3
- Ristorante Belforte. Built inside a historic fortress overlooking the ocean. The food and the view is heaven. In the village of Vernazza. +39 0187 812222
- Trattoria dal Billy. Great fresh seafood. High on a cliff. Amazing view of the terraced hills. In the village of Manarola. +39 0187 920628
- Ripa del Sole. Refined bites, nice plating; where the locals go. In the village of Riomaggiore. +39 0187 920143
Restaurants in the Cinque Terre: The Crowdsourced List
Top 10 — all the villages combined into one concise list.
1) La Lampara Ristorante (Riomaggiore)
2) Rio Bistrot (Riomaggiore)
3) Trattoria dal Billy (Manarola)
4) Ristorante Belforte (Vernazza)
5) Ristorante Il Porticciolo (Manarola)
6) Ristorante Miky (Monterosso)
7) Enoteca da Eliseo (Monterosso)
8) L’Ancora della Tartuga (Monterosso)
9) Torre Aurora Bar and Restaurant (Monterosso)
10) Fuori Rotta (Riomaggiore)
Eating on a budget
The villages are not only stacked with restaurants; there are some amazingly tasty and inexpensive meals waiting behind the curved doorways. These miniature spots hold the Italian version of street food.
When you’re there, you must try:
- focaccia — a Ligurian specialty
- fritto misto — fried fish served in paper cones
- torta di verdure — my go-to, on the run snack which is sold by weight from the tiny bakeries
- farinata — it’s made with chickpea flour and is gluten free. I love me some farinata.
The lowdown on focaccia: You can go wild and choose focaccia with onions, focaccia with tomatoes, focaccia with zucchini, focaccia with olives, focaccia di Recco (you have strict instructions to eat this while you’re there; it’s warm, thin unleavened bread perfectly cocooning mild, soft, warm cheese. I search out the ones cooked in a wood oven).
Of course, you’ll have your pick of take-away pasta places (try the walnut pesto), pizzerie, gelaterie and bars for coffee or cocktails.
Italian street food offers great value.
For example, hit the focacceria and for under 5 euro you can get two huge slices of warm, just made, delicious, perfectly salted, just the right amount of olive oil, just the right amount of golden crispy side bits, focaccia. Grab some local figs and gelato for dessert, and you have a beach picnic for under $10.
I hope these tips help you find the best restaurants in Cinque Terre and help you figure out where to eat. And what to eat!
Right now, I’d love to ask you, what’s your most memorable meal while traveling in Italy? Where? What did you have? People come here for inspiration and education, so don’t be shy: share your experiences. Who knows — your comment could be the next persons most memorable meal. Grazie!