From time to time, on Sundays, it happens to wake up with that uncontrollable desire for…a Sunday lunch!
Does it happen to you too?!? Today we live in a world so dynamic and always in a hurry that, I must be honest, even just enjoying in messudí (literally “a midday”, as my grandmother would say) sitting at the table with the whole family seems just a distant memory.
Are we too busy to even find time for a good Sunday lunch? Impossible! I am sure it just takes the right excuse and…I’ll give you five!
Here are the 5 typical Ligurian trattorias/taverns where you can eat a lot, and for cheap!
Trattoria Nazionale in Chiusavecchia
Don’t get offended, my other innkeeper friends: the Trattoria Nazionale is a must! Their kitchen proposal features classic Ligurian cuisine and, of course, like many serious restaurants of the hinterland around here, it offers a rich tasting menu at a fixed price (but don’t worry: if you want you can order even just a dish of their delicious ravioli).
Often you don’t buy in Liguria: you cook what your neighbour has collected the day before.
At Trattoria Nazionale they follow this rule, and the quality of the products used by Marco, Selma and Silvia is unquestionable, as well as their mastery in cooking them. Price: average for the area, that is 30/35 € including drinks. Menu: try their supreme ravioli and the rabbit rollè! Location: a real small-town trattoria, now featuring a new nice terrace on the village square.
Censin da Bea in Borgomaro
Let’s be clear: this is for people who love eating a lot!
Yes, let’s say that if you have recently started a diet, here you will be in danger…as you will risk biting off more than you can chew! We tried to count the starters and we are already lost, just saying!
You also need to know that Censin da Bea (lit. Vincenzino of the River, dialect abbreviation for Vincenzo – Vincenzin – Censin) is the fixed stop for those looking for a party in addition to Sunday lunch. Yes, because here there is always a party going on!
Marco is the embodiment of the ideal host: he will always find you a seat, he will try to stuff you from appetizer to dessert, he will entertain you with his gags but above all…he will make sure to quench your thirst! Invite him to the table for the final grappa and listen to one of his many incredible stories!
Price: on the average for the area, 30/35 € per person, all-inclusive. Menu: Ligurian cuisine with a little bit of madness, and if you are lucky, you will taste his incomparable snails! Location: an old mill on the river that exudes the history of our valley!
Osteria Didù e Osteria Bugamatta a Imperia
Until last year, I would have had no doubts about where to direct you to savour the tastes of our area by spending a trifle: Osteria Didú.
Here, in this tiny restaurant on the outskirts of Oneglia, you can enjoy true typical Imperia cuisine for both lunch and dinner, with particular attention to the freshness and genuineness of the product.
I say until last year, because since 2019, arm in arm with Didú, the new Osteria Bugamatta in the centre of Oneglia, became one of my favourite places.
They both are on the same wavelength in terms of menu and service, so I don’t know how to give a preference: know that whichever one you choose, here you will find good food, REAL good food, and you will come out with only one question: how did I manage to spend so little? Price: the menu is à la carte, or rather on the blackboard! Both won’t charge you more than 35 € each! Menu: fresh pasta, tasty and amazing! Location: you can’t judge a book by its cover.
Osteria Cadò in Cosio d’Arroscia
To try this tavern, you will need to drive for half an hour to reach Cosio d’Arroscia, but it will be a journey worth taking!
Recently opened, the little Cadò tries to blow fresh air down the valley, bringing some innovation to the Imperia gastronomic panorama.
Starting from the first appetizer, you will experience the passion of Antonio, the owner, as he shows you the origins of the proposed recipes. These are the stories of our ancestors, of those who lived in these places for decades and were able to bring out the best even from the smallest spontaneous herb, transforming it into a very tasty frisciö (Liguria’s traditional savoury fritters). Price: 35 €, drinks included (you will also have a nice choice of drinks here). Menu: the recipes are niche if you think about the research behind some proposals, genuine if you keep in mind the simplicity of the product, innovative if you think about plates as pumpkin and amaretto tagliatelle…that would make my grandmother jump in the chair for the surprise! Location: the terrace: unforgettable!
Agriturismo Cà Sottane a Borgomaro
Do you try to imagine heaven but can’t? Maybe because you haven’t been to the beautiful Ca Sottane farmhouse yet! An enchanting place, surrounded by the green Ligurian hills and completely immersed in nature. Here Laura and Brigitte, daughter and mother, have learned to combine catering and agriculture thanks to their small orchard and their various two and four-legged friends.
A simple cuisine, based on what the earth and animals can give, but which already conquered many! Enjoy a lunch on their veranda, surrounded by the magical rustle of the olive trees! Price: very cheap, 30 € including drinks! Menu: tends to be Ligurian with some Provençal influence due to Mamma Bri’s French origins! Location: peace and tranquillity, care and love but above all colours!
The strength of Italy comes above all from its great culinary tradition: each region, or rather, each small town in the country offers unique specialities.
Street food has taken an increasing space in recent years with dozens of dedicated festivals: even the famous Salone del Gusto in Turin devotes an important space to food trucks that offer any type of takeaway dishes.
Surely you know that in Liguria focaccia is king, but what about all the other street food that our cities can offer? Since we are great foodies and street food fans, we have many to suggest.
Why not start from those places that remind us of our teenage years afternoons in Imperia?
These are the kings of Imperia’s street food, and to try them is a must:
1) The hot focaccia baked 24/7 by the Blengini Bakery
It’s easy to find good, hot focaccia in the morning, but what about the rest of the day?
It is precious to have a snack with a hot “slerfa” (how locals call a focaccia slice) in your hands whenever you want: the Blengini bakery in Imperia can be recognized immediately by the long lines outside its door. Children and adults cannot resist the perfume that invades the nearby street. A stop here is a must.
2) U Papa’s farinata
The name of U Papa has been part of Imperia’s history for decades: for over 120 years this historic tavern has accompanied the days of workers in the nearby port of Oneglia.
Their speciality is farinata, a dish typical of western Liguria made with a humble recipe that uses just chickpeas flour and oil, plus sometimes onions.
In the evening, the “testi”, typical trays used to cook this dish, come out hot from the wood-burning oven to get on our tables or to accompany our walks under the arcades.
3) Madama Dorè’s Pizza
The real “piscialandrea”, which is the typical Ligurian pizza with lots of garlic and anchovies and without cheese, is said to be originally from Sanremo.
But even in Imperia, we have our special spot: Madama Dorè is a historic bar on the market square of Oneglia, considered the place where the best red pizza in the city is baked.
We personally prefer the version without garlic and anchovies, made only with tomatoes and olives (sacrilege for the more traditionalists!): be warned, once you bite the first slice you can no longer stop, especially if you taste it hot, just out of the oven, with its crunchy and oily crust.
4) La Peppina porchetta sandwich
For this street food, we move to the Porto Maurizio district and more precisely to Borgo Marina. In this wonderful corner of Imperia, you will find a small bar that at first glance might not seem special, but where you will find the best sandwiches in the city.
La Peppina is owned by the family that for decades has accompanied our summer afternoons because at the time managed a famous kiosk beside the beach.
For some years now it has moved – just a few meters – and has begun to delight the palates with mouth-watering creations: one of them is the sandwich with porchetta, rich, tasty, accompanied by its special secret sauce.
If you don’t eat meat, don’t worry: you will be happy with their awesome tomato and basil sandwich.
These are our street food spots; now we wait for advice on your favourites as well so we can go and do some quality tests…we never back down! 😉
These days, with the bars closed and no aperitifs, we often miss a well-done Spritz!
I hesitated until the last moment before writing this post, and even now I don’t know if Piera will be happy that I am sharing the secret recipe to prepare her famous Aperol Spritz with you.
Ok, I do it anyway, but you promise to share it only with your closest friends, that if Piera knows we are in trouble!
This is what you need:
1 balloon goblet (be careful, if Piera sees you doing it with a Tumbler she cuts your hand!)
5 or 6 ice cubes
3 parts Prosecco
2 parts Aperol
1 part Soda Schweppes
1 orange wedge
N.B.: first the Prosecco, THEN the Aperol and FINALLY the soda, please…Piera watches you!!
To make it the REAL Piera’s Aperol Spritz, it is recommended to drink it between 6 pm and 8 pm on a summer evening, after a long day of work, only and exclusively in the company of the people you love! For us, that person is Bruna, the baker from Borgomaro and a great friend of the Relais family, who every evening comes to visit and sip it together with us during what she calls her “happy hour”.
Now that you know the secret recipe, run to prepare one, or – even better – come and taste it soon with us at the Relais and…cheers!
That time of year has arrived, when the countryside around us is filled with people working for the new olive season: every small town in the Ligurian hinterland has at least 5 or 6 oil mills and producers of oil, our liquid gold.
To make this important tradition better known, there are many small local companies that organize activities with a focus on the world of oil: from days in which you can take part in the collection of the olives and return home with some fresh oil to oil massages under the olive’s trees, up to relaxing walks in the olive groves.
When it comes to oil, all of Liguria is an area of excellence and it is not easy to choose which one is the best product; we have tried to do so for our customers, with a selection of products created with care by the people we have known from generations and who we trust. Who are them? Discover with us some of the oil mills and producers we love the most and whose products we offer every year in our very own corner of typical products:
Cristina Armato Farm – Lucinasco – www.olioarmato.it Cristina is a volcano of ideas, and also produces one of the best oils in the valley. She also created the nice initiative “Adopt an olive tree”. For the incredible quality of their oil, in recent years her company has also received European-wide recognition.
Dinoabbo Farm – Lucinasco – www.dinoabbo.it Generation after generation, the Dinoabbo company has made the history of quality Ligurian olive production and our oil known all over the world. It remains one of the few oil mills to still work with the millstone, just like in the past.
Frantoio Pellegrino Paolo – Borgomaro – www.frantoiopellegrino.it More than 70 years of history characterize this small family-run oil mill. High-quality oil and products, and a pesto recipe to make you lose your mind.
Giovanni Tallone Oil Mill – Borgomaro – www.oleificiotallone.com In the 1920s, the ancestors of this family were those who gave a great boost to oil production in western Liguria. They offer many products to choose from, always at the top of quality and in limited quantity.
Tera de Prie oil mill – Borgomaro – www.teradeprie.it Love and passion for our territory distinguish the choices of these producers. All products have biological certification and have won several international awards, year after year.
Contact us or contact our partners for information and orders.
Each of the companies we have chosen is a small local reality, and you will hardly be able to find their products in the classic shops.
Every day our customers can taste the dishes of our tradition starting from breakfast.
And actually, to be a true Ligurian, you cannot miss a taste of vegetable pie in the morning.
Our favourite is the one with Swiss chard and rice.
You can find it in the kitchens of every grandmother in Liguria, especially in the morning, baked and ready to taste before the eleven o’clock mass!
I’m well aware of that because my Grandmother Maggiorina has it for me ready every Sunday morning when I go to visit her.
She is from Conio, upper Valle Impero, and I would like to tell you that this is her original recipe but unfortunately, I can’t, because…well, what a question, of course, it’s a secret!
Granny Magiò always says that she cannot remember the doses, but I know that she is very jealous of her recipe. Anyway, by dint of eating it, over time I said to myself: Martina, by now you should be able to reproduce it!
And so here I am, after several tests, removing a few ml of water, or adding a few grams of flour, cooking the chards with the onion in a pan then trying to put them raw directly in the oven.
Of course, getting the doses right and finding the ideal balance between all the ingredients is certainly the hardest part, but don’t be afraid: even if you can’t see it, the trick is there and luckily for you…I know what it is! For the rest…feel free to make your veggie pie unique according to your taste:
For the pasta matta (crazy dough)
300 g 00 white flour
150 ml water
2/4 spoons of EVO oil
5 g salt
For the filling 80 g rice
600 g white chards
200 g Parmigiano Reggiano
150 g Pecorino
1 EVO oil spoon
Salt + Pepper
Dough Preparation Sift the flour and create a hole in the middle of it, where you will put water (room temperature), oil and salt in. Start mixing and help yourself with a fork at the beginning if it is easier for you. Mix for 10 min and then let the dough rest.
Cut the shallots and let them fry for a while before putting the chards in the pan (cut them roughly first!): leave it for 5 to 10 min and meanwhile boil the rice. My way: i fill half the pot with a 1/4 milk + 3/4 water for half the time needed. Mix the rice with the chards and add both grated Parmesan and Pecorino cheese. Let the mix cool down before adding eggs, salt oil and pepper. In the meantime you can split the dough into two parts and roll it. Be sure you poured a filo d’olio (little evo oil) on the baking paper before lying the rolled dough – same on the top of the pie once it will be closed. Pierce the dough (both of them) before spreading the filling
To finally celebrate the reopening of public places after this period of forced stop, we want to introduce you to some of the restaurants of the Western Ligurian Riviera you really should not miss. I would like to point out that for this post I asked advice to our very expert: here is our top five of the best haute cuisine restaurants in Western Liguria, compiled by no-less-than her, the only, inimitable, the Countess of the Foodies County, Elena Scalambrin As you will have learned by now if you know us a little or if you have already visited us, Elena has a great passion for good food and good wine. Whenever a customer is in doubt about the restaurant to choose for dinner, she can find every time a new place and, of course, always of outstanding quality. Here are the five winners: five restaurants of unquestionable quality located on the Riviera which, without a doubt, will gift you a magical evening of pampering and attention; but above all, they will enchant you with the high quality of the food and products used…and yes, well of course also of the wine…we are talking about Elena’s choice after all!
You never change a winning team! Today famous to the most also thanks to the Michelin starred chef Andrea Sarri, this restaurant near the picturesque Borgo Prino in Imperia definitely has a special place in our heart. Offering a nice glimpse of the sea, exquisite refinement of the spaces and gastronomic proposals, accurate and alert service: at Sarri you will spend a very special evening. Andrea’s style undoubtedly has its roots in the choice of local products but with a twist thanks to his original reinterpretation made of unusual combinations.
Elena’s advice: if you don’t know what to order, go for the “Lasciatemi fare” (“Let me do it”) tasting menu proposed by the chef. A short dream experience that, once you get to dessert, you will hardly be able to forget. Price: 60€ – 80€
The one who best represents the history of Imperia’s restaurant panorama: since 1905 the Salvo family has been carrying on what, born as a tavern for traders and hunters – hence the name “Cacciatori” – today continues to be a central place in the gastronomy of our city and one of its higher level restaurants. Here we are really talking about a historical enterprise: 115 years of activity carried out by the same family is certainly something unique, especially when it comes to restaurants, a field where today the keyword is “change”. This restaurant had been feature in the Michelin Guide for thirty years, but in recent periods the quality of the dishes and style has undergone a surge thanks also to the expert hands of the new chefs, guided by Enrico’s charismatic management skills. The atmosphere you breathe is warm, enveloping and reminds us of our roots: the restaurant was in fact created through the architectural recovery of the materials of the historic restaurant and with them, it preserved intact also the values that the Salvo family transmits from about a century in their kitchen.
Elena’s advice: we all know that you are either a first plate or a second plate lover. For example, I hardly give up pasta (Italian DNA, what can you do about it) but here the latter, which are meat or fish, are real masterpieces. Price: 60€ – 80€
The first thing that wins you over? The breathtaking view on a hill that allows the location to make even the hardest of hearts fall in love! If we add that the owners are a couple of blinding tenderness, I would say that we have found the ideal place for the most romantic dinner of your life. I am not exaggerating, and if you have the opportunity to enjoy a meal with Chiara and Riccardo you will surely find that my words need even a bit more honey. A graceful and delicate environment just like the touch of chef Riccardo in his delicious dishes and Chiara’s gracefulness in serving you a good bottle of Vermentino at the table. The proposal is bold, innovative and tasty, certainly the most advanced of our Riviera: you will hardly find something similar and in fact, the U Titti restaurant has managed to earn a place in the well-known television challenge “4 Ristoranti” conducted by chef Alessandro Borghese, ranking first.
Elena’s advice: leave some room for dessert, it’s a must here! Price: 50€ – 70€
In Liguria, you will find yourself loving not just the riviera, but also the enchanting inland. Especially since it offers goodies like this restaurant! The cooking style is between Liguria and Piedmont: difficult to say where the balance is inclined but the beauty is right here, in not having to choose. If you love meat, truffles and good wine, you can definitely get in your car straight away to here, since at Gallo you will be able to experiment with recipes made to perfection thanks to the selection of excellent ingredients. “What to add more?” you are wondering. Well, then there’s the fact that oil, wine and truffles are not at km0 – surprised, aren’t you? – but at cm0, because they are entirely produced right there, next to the restaurant. To know a little more, run to read the post about their truffle ground HERE!
Elena’s advice: no doubt about it, order the risotto with truffle: Elena’s favourite dish since she was a child Price: 40€ – 60€
5. Il Pirata Restaurant in Laigueglia – www.ristorantepirata.com Don’t be confused by the wide choice of places on the riviera: there is only one Pirata! The restaurant has been recently renovated but has maintained a simple and well-kept environment. Luca wants to distinguish himself from the others by keeping his feet on the ground while giving excellent quality dishes, also thanks to the ingredients he chooses personally. Here you will find a little bit of everything: spectacular first courses, fresh fish, a good dose of tradition and…even pizzas!
Elena’s advice: cod fritters? Yes, yes and yes! Also, check out their wine list to lose your head! Price: 40€ – 60€
if you are ready to start your gastronomic trip in Liguria, give a look also to our new offer, created to celebrate the opening of the new restaurant of our friends in Imperia ( restaurant that is not featured on this list just because it is still not open :)) Click HERE for more informations