Cinque Terre and Italian Food

Cinque Terre white wine served with olives soaked in olive oil at Cafe Mateo
Cinque Terre white wine served with olives soaked in olive oil at Cafe Mateo

Although Corniglia, Italy does not offer a large variety of restaurants, they have some of the most amazing dishes I have ever experienced. During my summer trip to Europe my favorite culinary experience was in Cinque Terre, in the small town of Corniglia.

When my friend and I first arrived in Corniglia (which is the third town in Cinque Terre) we went straight to a gelato shop. There are many gelaterias (Italian word for gelato shops) in Italy but try to look for gelato made with real ingredients. In Corniglia we went to the first gelateria from the main street. I ordered lemon and strawberry gelato and it had pieces of real fruit in it and wasn’t full of sugar. It was perfecto!

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After our sweet snack we went to Café Metao for an early dinner.  Inside was a large sign that read ‘my wife is expensive, but my Wi-Fi is free’.  Obviously these people had a sense of humor! This is one of the only public places in Corniglia that offers Wi-Fi. Many other places post signs saying to get off your phone and enjoy the view. Even though Café Metao offered Wi-Fi, we were there to eat.

The region of Cinque Terre is known for their wine, pesto, and olive oil, so we ordered all three. First we ordered two glasses of the Cinque Terre white wine, which came with a small bowl of potent olives soaked in olive oil. For the main course I ordered pesto lasagna. Normally when I think of lasagna, I think of a dish prepared with marinara sauce.  However, lasagna made with pesto is light and flavorful. The ricotta used in this dish was spectacular, and the noodles were thin and perfectly cooked.

Cappuccino and a freshly made pastry from Corniglia, Italy.
Cappuccino and a freshly made pastry from Corniglia, Italy.

The next morning, my friend and I were in need of some coffee. We wondered down the main alley and found another small café. I ordered a freshly made blueberry pastry and an espresso, all for only 3USD. We continued to eat breakfast here for the next couple of days because of the homemade pastries and the inexpensive coffee.

During our stay in Corniglia we also tried some local pizza. The pizza we ordered was from a small pizzeria owned by an older Italian man who is well known not for his food, but for his chef’s hat. I ordered the vegetarian pizza which had roasted tomatoes, zucchini, red pepper and eggplant on a crunchy thin crust, as well as a small amount of mozzarella.

On our last night in Corniglia, we ate dinner at the wine bar off the main street. The eating area is built into the rocks overlooking the ocean and has twinkling stringed lights.  I ordered a focaccia with fresh, ripe tomatoes, pesto, mozzarella, and a glass of limoncino. Limoncino is a lemon based alcoholic drink served in a small glass, and packs a serious punch of sweet and sour flavors! Be warned, this drink has intense flavors and strong alcohol content. The people I was with did not enjoy this drink, but the Italians seem to drink it up like water!