Piemonte and Liguria: food suggestions

Mar 28th, 2011, 09:05 PM
  #1  
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Piemonte and Liguria: food suggestions

Hi folks,

Regular reader, first-time question-asker. I will be taking a much-needed break in Italy this May. One of my major interests is discovering good regional food and wine, so I would be grateful to hear about people's food experiences and recommendations as pertaining to the itinerary below.

The first six days of the trip will be spent on a winery-visiting, walking tour in Piemonte, staying just outside of Alba for the first three nights and Monforte for the next three. The tour itinerary is pretty full, with daily walks (e.g. Mango-Neive-Castagnole delle Lanze, Neive-Barbaresco, Diano d'Alba-Grinzane Cavour, Fontanafredda-Sorano, Serralunga-Castiglione Falletto, Monforte-Barolo-Annunziata-La Morra), but some free time in Alba and Monforte.

After leaving the tour, I will be traveling solo and relying on public transport (no car). I plan to spend the first 4 nights of the solo part of the trip in Turin. I'm sure there are good daytrip options with great restaurants in beautiful/interesting settings (e.g. Asti, Saluzzo, Acqui Terme), but I imagine there would be more than enough to occupy me in Turin. Plus after the tour, I might want to experience a bigger city for a change of pace. I have read that Turin is (among other things) a primo food destination, so would be interested in people's opinions on where the best food shopping can be found. What do you think of Eataly? - worthwhile, or would I be better off sticking to traditional food shopping streets, such as those described by Fred Plotkin in his Gourmet Traveler? I will be have a refrigerator in my room, but no cooking facilities.

The next 6 nights will be in the La Riviera di Levante - I have picked Camogli as my home base (Hotel La Camogliese), because it has good train access to other towns and it seemed like a great place to come home to each night, have a drink and enjoy the sunset. I will have half a day upon arrival plus 5 full days, and there seems to be no lack of things to do to fill those days up. Possible options for food and culture include: 1) Genoa, 2) Chiavari and area - I would love to try Ristorante La Brinca in the village of Ne, but I'm not sure I could get there without a car? Any other foodie musts? Restaurants in Recco? Gelato in Rapallo? Would it be worth ordering David Downie's food and wine guide to Liguria? Camogli may also have some pretty good restaurants, though a fair number of them seem to be up the hill in San Rocco - would it be too dark to walk back down to my hotel after dinner?

I am also a keen walker/rambler and would like to do some day hikes, both in Liguria and in Tuscany (Florence will be my home base for the last 7 nights) but maybe I should save those questions for another thread. Thanks, and sorry for the long, rambling message!
Bopal is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 09:30 PM
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Hi Bopal,

this sounds like a wonderful excursion, walking through Piedmont's Langhe wine country, Torino and Liguria. I am sure many folks will be happy to give you suggestions, but since I am up early here are a few:

On your wine country walks, you will be passing through many little towns and villages each with a little osteria or trattoria, and IMO these offer some of the finest values in local eating at reasonable prices, I wouldn't even bother with a guide book. This is REAL Piedmont.

Of course in the bigger towns you might want to consult the guides as the choice becomes much greater. I really don't know Plotkin, although he is much quoted, however Slow Food's Guide to the Osterie of Italy is very good, and also check the trip report on this forum by Ekscrunchy (http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...nd-bicerin.cfm). Also you will find many other threads on this forum about Piedmont as well as on Chowhound forum.

You are right, Torino does have a large number of attractions to keep you well occupied, and as befits Piedmont's capital is a great eating city (although Torinese come out to the Langhe and Monferrato for their eating treats). Eataly is worth a visit and you should visit the big daily markets around Porto Palazzo. You won't have much time for visiting other towns, but a short trip to Asti (40 minutes by train) on market day might be a treat.

I won't comment on your Ligurian part as I don't know the area around Camogli, but I am sure others will.

Have a great trip!
Sampaguita is offline  
Mar 29th, 2011, 06:17 PM
  #3  
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Thanks very much, Sampaguita. I think we will be eating mainly in local places on the tour, and I will have a nice chance to sample what Torino has to offer afterwards. That's a great thread you directed me to as well, lots of detailed information.

One more question: are you aware of a good online Italian menu translator? All I have found so far is a book called Eating and Drinking in Italy by A. Herbach.
Bopal is offline  
Mar 29th, 2011, 08:45 PM
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email me and I will send you a copy of our house edition even if you are not staying with us . Its a work in progress over 10 years.
Sampaguita is offline  
Mar 30th, 2011, 03:27 AM
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Good to see antother food fanatic here! Sounds like a fabulous trip! I wish I could join you.
About La Brinca: I, too, wanted to go to Ne. Even with a car, it was way out of the way so I do not hold out much hope for public transport options.

Yes, Eataly is worthwhile. If you have been to the one in New York, you can get the idea, but the Torinese original is a thousand times better and of course the prices are better since it is in Italy!

Here is the food-centered report that I wrote after my Ligurian trip. Sampaguita has kindly linked the food report of the Piedmont trip I took a year or so after the Ligurian one.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-much-else.cfm

Yes, you should buy the Downie book.

You might also take a look at the last chapter of the Matthew Fort book, Eating Up Italy, with a chapter on Piedmont.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Eating-Up-It.../dp/0007214812

There is a poster on this forum who lives in Camogli, and hopefully she will chime in with more info. And I am always willing to chatter on about my own, albeit brief, visits to these areas.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Mar 30th, 2011, 05:49 AM
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We enjoyed Eataly. It's a short bus ride from the train station (bus 1 or 35). Look for it on the right hand side of the street if you're coming from the train station. (This is the only bus where we experienced a pick-pocketing attempt. Didn't have any problems in Naples!) Make sure to scope out the entire place before you start to eat since there are so many possibilities and they're all inviting.

We found this article on apertivo bars useful:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/200...nk-italy/print

If you get a chance while in Neive, have lunch or dinner at La Luna nel Pozzo. The meal at La Contea in Neive was very disappointing compared to La Luna.

http://www.lalunanelpozzo-neive.it/

The museums in Turin are wonderful. Don't skip the Museo del Cinema.

Some places in Turin that we enjoyed for dinner:
Tre Galli
Porta Savona (a Slow Food selection)
Sotto la Mole
Marija is offline  
Mar 30th, 2011, 07:04 AM
  #7  
 
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I'm afraid you can't get to La Brinca without a car.

The staircase from San Rocco di Camogli to Camogli is well-lit at night, but only Nonna Nina is currently open up there for dinner.

David Downie's book is an excellent investment to supplement Plotkin. I highly recommend you buy it.

Since you describe yourself as a foodie, it is worth traveling to Chiavari to eat the best farinata and to enjoy the town, and worth going to Nervi for its museums and a chance to eat focaccia col formaggio at La Marinella with a view if you don't plan to go to Recco to eat it. Otherwise, you should skip it. (For Recco, let Plotkin and Downie be your guide. You will need a taxi home if you go for dinner. The resto will call one for you.)

In Camogli, different restaurants do different things well, all are about the same price. Some with reliably decent food in all categories are the restaurant attached to la Camogliese, La Rotunda, La Primula (but not for pizza!) and Hostaria al Pesce which is not at the seafront. La Spaghetteria is the best budget friendly meal for dinner. For lunch, Le Creperie. If you pick Da Paolo for dinner, stick to the pate di seppie and the risotto. (Do not eat at Laterna Rossa or Golfo del Paradiso.)

Although it is pricey, a sunet cocktail at Cenobbio dei Doge is grand. Perhaps even better is to head up the hill to San Rocco di Camogli by bus or foot, walk to the RIGHT of the church down the path, and have a drink at the hole in the wall bar overlooking the sea. Another nice place for a glass of excellent red wine is I Tre Merli, at the far end of the port. La Primula makes excellent cocktails. The Enoteca La Bossa on the via della Repubblica makes the town's best plate of fried anchovies and has a good wine list.

Revelatory gelato requires a trip to Rapallo to have it at Frigidarium, opposite the castle.

Don't eat in Portofino if you can help it.

Plenty of great, great eats in Genova, and if you are foodie, you might not want to miss the Mercato Orientale covered food market in Genova (closed for the lunchtime pausa and Sundays). Another fun food market is in Rapallo if you are there in the morning. Camogli's food market is Wednesday but is simply utilitarian.

As for hikes, the tourist office in Camogli will help you out with maps. These are vigorous hikes, and if you prefer rambles to huffing and puffing, walking the road between Ruta and San Rocco di Camogli is pretty, and the seaside walks in Zoagli and Nervi are quite pleasant. Taking a cable car ride up to MonteAllegro in Rapallo offers rambles up there. Likewise, the funicular in Genova that goes up to Righi offers walks in the hills with views.

http://home.manana.it/hiking_around_genoa.pdf
zeppole is offline  
Mar 30th, 2011, 07:54 AM
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I am jealous. We had a most wonderful meal in a small spot in Portovenere a few years ago. It was early in March and the tourists hadn't descended yet.

We had a fresh anchovy appetizer that was possibly one of the best dishes I have ever eaten. the fish were so fresh and the sauce tasted like a lemon grove.

Another book you might want to consider is another Plotkin one called: Recipes from Paradise; Life and Food on the Italian Riviera. It appears to be out of print, but seems to be available from sellers on Amazon,

http://www.amazon.com/Recipes-Paradi.../dp/0316710717

ISBN 0-316-71071-7

It is recipes, history, annecdotes and Memories of Liguria.
notbob is offline  
Mar 30th, 2011, 05:02 PM
  #9  
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Thanks everybody for the recommendations, links, trip reports and general enthusiasm! It's all incredibly useful and just what I was looking for. Does anyone have any chocolate recommendations for Torino or elsewhere?

Zeppole, as usual you are a font of knowledge - thanks so much for your summary of the Camogli restaurant scene. The hole-in-the-wall bar in San Rocco di Camogli sounds great! Would I be able to have a drink there in the early evening, then walk to Nonna Nina for dinner? Also, I have read good things about Trattoria da Mirin - will it be open for dinner in May?

I am considering the hike to San Fruttuoso. I don't mind steep hills and I can walk long distances, but I am not a mountaineer, and according to some reports the cliffside path can get dangerous in some areas - though I have also read that there may be another (perhaps less scenic) route that avoids the cliffside section. If I do go, do you have any recommendations for where I could pick up some focaccia or other lunch-type food for the trail? Maccarini bakery, perhaps? If I set out early enough, is there a place to have lunch near the Abbey?

Next time, I will have to consider staying in Genova for a few days - I hadn't realized that it is not only a foodie destination, but also has so many enticing day hikes within easy reach by public transport.
Bopal is offline  
Mar 30th, 2011, 05:38 PM
  #10  
ekc
 
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Ah, cholocate! We had a "tasting" and purchased some amazing chocolate at Guido Gobino's store in Torino. We also spent a nice couple of hours roaming Eataly (purchasing quite a bit also) and also had a wonderful lunch at the counter gorging on culatello and mozzarella.
We had a great dinner at Tre Gallini (or Galli?) in Torino. I am still kicking myself that I didn't get the bollito misto!
ekc is offline  
Mar 30th, 2011, 09:04 PM
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For chocolate tasting in Turin either Gobino or Pfatisch (near the train station), but be warned don't expect to eat for a few hours!

EKS its Tre Galline on Via Bellezia 37 (closed Sunday and Monday lunch)
Sampaguita is offline  
Mar 30th, 2011, 10:00 PM
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Bopal,

Downie has numerous recommendations for artisinal chocolate makers in Genova, which is the port of Switzerland. Also, in Chiavari, the Caffe Defilla in piazza Matteotti makes a wonderful chocolate confection called "Sorrisi," while across the piazza, the coffee roaster (torrefazione) Bocchia makes its own chocolates but also sells an extensive collection of high end Italian chocolates (Domori, Venchi, Majani, others). It also sells artisinal baked goods from all over Liguira (amaretti, spungata, etc). It's a real foodie pit stop.

Da Mirin is now closed. The San Rocco bar stays open until 7:30pm or a bit later and is a short walk to Nonna Nina.

Maccarini has many nice treats, in particular its vegetable tortes and fruit tortes. It is closed Wednesdays and lunch hours (but open Sundays). The macelleria just a few steps down the road (beneath Nonna Nina) has very good sliced meats, especially testa in cassetta if they are still making it that late in the year. In Camogli proper, Antico Borgo is an excellent supplier of sliced meats and cheeses.

There are two restaurants right in the cove where the Abbey of San Fruttuoso sits. Best not to go on a weekend, and check with the tourist office or your hotel when they will be open otherwise. (I prefer Da Giorgio.) Downie also gives a recommendation for two eateries on Punta Chiappa, which is reached either by boat from Camogli or by walking down the many many stairs from San Rocco in the other direction. I would call ahead to reserve.

You should ask the tourist office about whether any dangers of slides exist on the Parco Portofino trails. The hikes in and out of San Fruttuoso are long (allow 3 hours from the trailhead) and at points steep, but I don't find them scary for being near cliffs. However, in May, I'd only want to do them in the morning, and I would take tick spray (AUTAN PIU, at the pharmacy). Ticks are not a huge problem, but they do exist. If you are an early riser, you can get an 8am boat to San Fruttuoso and start your hike. You can also take a bus up to Ruta and start your hike close to the top of the mountain (beautiful views in all directions from Portofino Kulm/Vetta), and walk down to San Fruttouso ( long hike!)

Downie left Hotel Ristorante MonteAllegro out of his book, but in blog posts he has recommended it.

http://www.hotelmontallegro.it/

Neither Plotkin or Downie give high end or creative-type food listings, they stick with the homey classices, so if you are looking for a fancier meal to replace La Brinca, Gran Gotto in Genova probably fits that bill (at Viale Brigate Bisagno 69R, a 15 minute walk from Brignole train station). Also in Chiavari, the misleadingly named Lord Nelson's Pub on the seafront has excellent inventive dishes (seared tunas with pepper ice cream, etc. Ask the staff for advice.) These are very pricey places.

Since Camogli's restaurants are not destination restaurants, you might decide to make your big meal of the day lunch as you are out and about. If you decide to head out for dinner by train, the evening ends better if you know precisely when trains back to Camogli are leaving. You can find that information when you get off the train, on the yellow schedule boards listing departing times for trains ("Partenze").

Last tip is that, if you are arriving by train, most people with rolling luggage find it easier to skip walking straight down the stairs to la Camogliese and instead walk down the road to the left, around the hill. It's a longer walk, through a parking lot, but avoids a particularly steep stair case. If your luggage is extremely heavy, any of the taxis lined up in front of the train station will drive you down.
zeppole is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 04:04 AM
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Zepploe: Good to meet you here! I notice that you did not mention Rosa in Camogli.

We had a good meal there but perhaps it has slipped (??)


http://www.rosaristorante.it/



So glad to hear that Nonna Nina is still at peak form; that was a superb lunch! How I long to return to your neck of the woods!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 08:35 PM
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Thanks again, everyone for the terrific recommendations. And thank you Zeppole for all the practical information on Camogli and surrounds - this is the kind of stuff you can never find in guide books. I now have a to-do/check-out list that I will probably never be able to fill. But I sure will give it a try
Bopal is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 08:50 PM
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Rosa's lasagne al pesto still ranks as one of the best around, likewise its fritto misto, and depending on the catch of the day, other dishes can be fantastic, like lobster with homemade tagliatelle. I think my mind was just fixed on the "other" end of town since Bopaul is staying at la Camogliese. But the walk up the slope is not onerous, especially for a hiker, and the view is the best.

Bopal, if you are shopping for food items to take things home, Rosa's also has a small boutique store on the via delle Repubblica, selling mainly wine and oil but also Ligurian specialties, like pastas and chocolates, that are easy to pack. Same goes for a very good food specialty shop next to La Primula on the seafront, just a hole in the wall.
zeppole is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 08:51 PM
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ps, eks, you are always welcome! The weather only gets prettier.
zeppole is offline  
Apr 6th, 2011, 05:07 PM
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Bookmarking for next year's trip planning.
hazel1 is offline  

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