Category: Portofino

For the week-end Portofino was buzzing with people, considering the Italians are back to work, and schools gad started already, I guess the crowd was more composed of people like us, who wanted to enjoy the last days of summer in Paradise.

My big worry was that I had only a day left and still so many restaurants to taste…
Da U’Batti and Puny are the two restaurants that people tell you the minute you say I am going to Portofino. These two restaurants are Berlusconi’s favorites and from far the best ones in the little harbor.

Unfortunately Da U’Batti was always full, so I missed its famous scampis. It is a restaurant situated not at the piazzetta, but in a back calm street, and you basically have no menu, everybody goes with their yummy appetizers and then the scampis (or pasta for the ones who didn’t get the purpose of the restaurant) and you are lucky to receive a bib, so your clothes don’t get dirty… I guess now I have a reason to go to Portofino again;)

Thank god I had the chance to find a table at Puny for lunch; right on the piazzetta, its tables enjoy views of the boats bobbing in the harbor and yachts having size contests beyond. I will highly recommended their “penne al puny” (pasta quills in a sauce of tomatoes, pancetta bacon, and mushrooms) and also their fresh fish al verde (in a green sauce of parsley, lemon, and white wine) or al sale (baked under a thick salt crust).
The service is great, you are served by M. Puny himself and his spouse… and I felt really lucky to have a table, cause they refused so many people during lunch. And it seemed to be fully booked for the night as well.

I have spent the rest of the day shopping and getting tanned, and at night got ready to meet my friends in Santa Margherita’s Marina at the restaurant Skipper.

My friends love Skipper, and they are right. Besides having a nice terrace, it also has a veranda on the sea… We sat at the terrace and we had my friend’s dog as well. The service was great ; Bookie, my friends dog had his own cup of water (I guess he is the real star there). He was very attracted by the delicious food as well, he spent his evening to beg us for food from under the table… u don’t believe me? have a look

As appetizers I took a “carpaccio di pesce spada” (swordfish carpaccio), it was smoked so a little salty for me but they had sliced it over fennel, and the lemon of the dressing was balancing the taste of the plate. The warm octopus with potato that my friend took looked especially delicious. Then I took the famous “trenete con pesto, patate e fagioli” (ribbon pasta with pesto sauce, potatoes, and green beans). This specialty of the region Ligura, and you have never tried it, what are you waiting for???

But I am warning you when you go “pesto con patate e fagioli”, you never go back ;)

Again a perfect day ending with a perfect food, I am starting to think that I am living for food… maybe i should call my blog Nat and the Food instead of Nat and the City, lol….

We decided to take the hour drive to Forte dei Marmi, to meet up for lunch with friends. They had discovered a new restaurant by the beach, and wanted to see the lovely town a last time before the summer ends.

I have joined my friends and their baby at Principe’s restaurant… no need to say with excellent food. As we were stuck in traffic, just managed to make it around 3pm, and due to the end of season and late time, we were the only ones.
So no need to say amazing service as we were the only table to be served …
We all followed the chef suggestion, and I still lick my fingers to the idea of the first dish… Scampis wrapped in bacon fat in a tomato sauce…. I mean come on how can it be bad when bacon is involved!!! And this the tomato sauce … let me tell you it’s story
This tomato sauce is simply unique… It is best done at the end of July or on the first 20 days of August, when the sun is very hot, so the tomatoes will be very dry and perfectly ripe.
After leaving the tomatoes in the sun for 4 – 5 days, you layer them in a jar, add some dried basil and cover it with olive oil. They are ready for consumption two weeks later… and guess what just on time for my visit in Forte dei Marmi;) off course this preparation that took a long time didn’t resist 10 min on our table… leave eating it with the scampis, we attacked it with the warm focaccia as well…
Oh and we thought we didn’t have enough calorie intake so had a plate of spaghetti all’astice (lobster spaghetti) each. I know I know… what happened to my diet? I guess food happened :)
And to accompany all this we had a nice bottle of white wine, actually two cause one was not enough, lol

So after this “light” and “non alcoholic” lunch, we walked around town, so we could digest and do some shopping… I have to say, you could feel more in Forte the end of season than in Portofino.

That night we decided to have a light dinner, and went to “O Magazin” in Portofino. First of all, I would like to advise all the high heel lover ladies to be careful when they walk on the piazzetta. As it is full of stones… well they can fall while trying to walk… I did (thanks god it was late and nobody really saw me)
And the second advise is get ready to get some attitude at “O Magazin”, we nearly begged the staff to serve us… they were so full of themselves that they passed few times in front of us without asking if we were ready, or done…
The two owners, with their collars up, were walking around like two proud peacocks with more attitude than what they should really do; serve!!!!
True their food is great; the octopus carpaccio and the sea bass are to die for… but I would not advise it to anyone… unless you want to be ignored…Hey maybe they are French… you know the waiters that are trained to give you an attitude and make you feel you are so privileged to dine at their restaurants.

Let’s say it doesn’t work for me, and highly recommend you to avoid it… especially when there are so many other amazing restaurants in Portofino….

The second day we decided to spend the morning getting tanned, and around noon, we took the car and went to Portofino…

Portofino is a small Italian fishing village located in the province of Genoa on the Italian Riviera. This small harbor is considered to be among the most beautiful Mediterranean ports.
It is simply a beautiful place, where the piazza is surrounded by restaurants one more delicious than the other one… and by shops that would make via Montenapoleone blush.

Off course I had to taste all the restaurants… so no need to say my diet stayed in the cold Geneva…
But beside the restaurants, I had to go and get some of the best Cheese Focaccia of the world at Canale. It is an old family bakery at the entrance of town where locals and tourists line up for the fresh-baked Ligurian foccacia… no need to say if you had a liquid night, it is the best cure… it simply hits the right spot. And if you didn’t have a rough night, it still makes you want to have more!!! I literally was dreaming about it since last year…

That day after our focaccia orgy, we decided to walk around and do some shopping, and off course I have adopted three more pair of shoes… well you know me, some people collect matches from restaurants, I collect shoes from cities, so they all have a story to tell ;)

That night we decided to try the restaurant of the Hotel Splendido… it has two locations; one positioned on a verdant hillside overlooking the picture-perfect harbor of Portofino, “Hotel Splendido” is one of Italy’s most glamorous retreats…and if you need a translation, it is a very very expensive hotel…
And the sister, “Hotel Splendido Mare” stands beside the renowned piazzetta, less expensive but looks like a renovated motel.

We had dinner at the one in the piazzetta, although it looks like the cheaper one, believe me the prices were quite high, for a food less than impressive. Let’s say I have never had such an expensive sea food salad and coffee… But again, as it is Italy, they did it with a great smile, so didn’t feel the pain that much…

My second day in Liguria Paradise was just great… and believe me the third day is even better…

Last year when I went to the Liguria Riviera, I have started by Rapallo, Santa Margherita, and Portofino…. And to my taste didn’t enjoy it enough…

So when I had few days off decided to take the first plane and enjoy a little more the Mediterranean sun before summer is over.
As there are no direct flights to Pisa or Genova from Geneva, I flew in to Firenze again, and rented a car. After 200 km, I was at Grand Hotel Miramare in Santa Margherita. It is making part of the group Leading Hotels of the World, and let me tell you they deserve it. This hotel was one of the first grand hotels in the area, and hosted celebrities such as Laurence Olivier and Vivian Leigh, who changed my life after “Gone with the Wind” as I wanted to be Scarlett O’Hara ;) ))

I had a great price for a room on the sea side with a balcony with the view of all Santa Margherita… you don’t believe me? then check this out!!!!

By the time we arrived to the hotel and checked in, it was already 10pm… so we thought no need to book a table, and took a stroll on the marina…
The Santa Margherita marina is small, and you have few restaurants next to each other… Skipper, Tortuga and L’Altro Eden. We started by L’altro Eden (the first Eden restaurant is in Rapallo).
When we arrived the whole terrace was full, except few tables that were reserved for the second service… and as we are in Italy, Franco Pezzoni, the owner, added a table outside for us..

It was one of the first signs that I wasn’t in Geneva anymore… We enjoyed an amazing dinner with raw fish Carpaccio caught the same day, followed by spaghetti with tuna botargo and grilled prawns. No need to say our plate was empty. The service was great; everyone tried to speak few words of French… the crowd was composed of tourists and locals (which I guess is a good sign).

For me it was the perfect way of starting my few days in Italy…