Friday, January 20, 2012

Ripa del Sole : Riomaggiore, Italy

For those who are unaware (like me before actually going), Cinque Terre is a set of 5 villages, in northwest Italy, which are nestled in cliffs along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.  The villages are absolutely picturesque and charming in their small-village atmosphere, especially during the non-touristy season.  Our hearts were saddened to hear of the recent mud-slides that ravaged some of the villages.

We stayed in Riomaggiore, the southern most of the five villages. We had rented a guest house through xxx, a website like Airbnb, where property owners can rent out their property for vacation-goers.  This was our first time renting through such websites for travel and beyond actually living more akin to how locals live, one of the big benefits of renting through such websites, is that the local host can give you the inside scoop on locals' favorite restaurants.

In this case, our host recommended Ripa del Sole, an absolutely wonderful restaurant.

It's located above (altitude-wise) the main street of Riomaggiore, so that you have this view of Riomaggiore from the street that it's on.  Btw, they have both indoor and outdoor seating.  When we went, it was nice enough in the evening that they only had outdoor seating available.

Umm, here's a random shot of olive oil and balsamic vinegar there to build up some suspense.

Now, let's get onto the food.

Anchoves Cooked 5 Ways
1) Deep fried, wrapped in ham
2) Plain deep fried - very simply, but nicely done.  Fresh anchovies, freshly fried and lightly salted.  You really can't go wrong with this.
3) Anchovies in pesto/olive oil
4) Salted anchovy (as in preserved in salt) - We're not really used to the salted preserved flavor and found this overwhelmingly salty, but it paired well with the bread and lemon oil.
5) Anchovies with carrot and celery slivers in white vinegar and lemon - our favorite of the five.  Just a nice pair of fish and the vinegar/lemon flavor.

Shrimp Ravioli
Nicely done.  Cooked al dente, the shrimp inside tasting like a seafood bisque.

Local Fish
Five types of different fish, deep fried.  Again, simple but very nicely done, each fish giving a distinctively unique flavor.  It may not look like it, but this was actually quite a massive portion.  The largest fish were about 5 inches long.

All in all, this was the priciest of the meals we have had so far this trip, but far and away our most satisfying.

Ripa del Sole
Via De Gasperi, 4, 19017 Riomaggiore La Spezia, Italy (Map)
0187 920143‎

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