Finding what to eat and drink in Cinque Terre can be a bit overwhelming! Hopefully, my list of food specialties, wine, and where to find them will give you some great ideas on the best places to eat and drink in Cinque Terre.
I fell in love with Cinque Terre the minute we arrived and was ready to hit the ground running! To be honest, we had no plans for our time in the five lands… none at all, which is very unlike me. Normally, on our travel adventures, I have every sight mapped out, I know the history, have a plan, know where to stay and what to eat and drink.
We normally travel with our family of five, but our boys opted out of this trip and stayed home to play basketball; and the other one, well, I think he had girls on the brain. We had also been packing up everything we owned, and the boys were a little bit sad that we were relocating again. This would be our 6th new county in ten years. So, I caved and let them stay home. Maybe since we were only a party of three, I was more laid back, or maybe I was becoming a little bit Italian and relaxed after our year of living there. Who knows…
What is my best advice about the beautiful destination of Cinque Terre? Just go with it, enjoy the view, drink the local wine and eat the local, specialty foods. I could tell you every church, and all the history, and the giant Neptune statue, and list what you must see; I could tell you to hike all the trails and walk every inch with a map, but I’m pretty sure if you found my site you have already Googled every possible list of what to do in Cinque Terre… am I right? So, let me tell you not what to see, but how to play and enjoy your down time. Mainly what to eat and drink while you are there.
Drink the local wine: If you’re not a wine lover then you would not want to travel with me, so maybe you want to stop reading right now! Cinque Terre has its own DOC designated origin wine that only comes from the vineyards around the five villages. The wine is made from the Bosco, Albarola, and/or Vermentino grapes that are from this region. You will be hard pressed to find it when you leave Italy, so have some while you’re there! Even Wine magazine agrees the wine is great!
Drink some, take a walk, enjoy the view, and drink some more. My husband, the athlete, loves to walk and walk and walk… and, well, I love to drink. So, we compromise, and if I walk wherever he wants to go I am rewarded with a big glass of grape goodness! Everyone wins!
Here is my list of places to eat and drink as you wander through the amazing destination of Cinque Terre. They are in order of making your way from RioMaggiore and stopping at every village ending in Monterossa.
RioMaggiore – Fuom Rotaa Wine Bar – Via Telemaco Signorini 48: This little gem could be the best place in RioMaggiore. It is up above the crowds of the main street. If you are walking up to see the castle, you will pass by the wine bar. The owner’s name is David, he was born and bred in Cinque Terre, and would love to share his life story with you. Ask him for a flight of wines to sample and he will be happy to pick some out for you. Try his olives and snacks while looking out over the view. He also has great local and scrumptious food – a great place to come back for dinner one night.
Corngilia and Cafe Matteo: A little hole-in-the-wall spot with tables outside but they make their own DOC Cinque Terre wine and IT IS GOOD! Have a glass, or buy a bottle to take home, but have some! Make sure you sit in their chairs – there are multiple cafes in this area and they each have their own chairs to serve their customers. Cafe Matteo has the chairs to the top left when you enter the square. I would not eat a full meal here; just have a snack and a glass of wine or local beer, which is also great if you are a beer lover. Benas had beer; I had wine. My favorite part of this place was the amazing service and the waitress who just loved to chat. She gave us all kinds of info and loved on Amber, our daughter. The locals congregate in this square, sitting on wine barrels. Oh! You have to take the train because the ferry does not stop here.
Getting to the top of the Village. Once you arrive, there is a shuttle for 1.50 from just outside the train station. It will take you up to the top of the village – it is worth the money.
BONUS: Stop at the Alberto Gelataria for fresh orange juice or gelato on your way out of the village. Yummy! Take it with you as you walk back down to the train station. Amber loved the ice cream!
Walk the Lardarina: When you are ready to go, head back out to where the shuttle left you. Walk up the hill to your right and follow it to the stars called the Lardarina; there are 382 steps and 33 flights that take you back down to the train station. Enjoy the amazing view! And you just had wine and ice cream so you have a chance to walk it off.
Manarola – Nessun Dorma – Localita Punta Bonfiglio: This is the coolest place to have a drink in Manarola. Follow the signs to the top of the hill. The view, the view, the view! Try to get here early to snag a table for sunset; this gem won’t stay secret for long, and they don’t take reservations.
They have many fun and fruity drinks, a nice variety of wine, and gorgeous antipasto plates full of local salami, cheese, and olives. The place is family owned, and the staff is friendly and happy you are there. Have an authentic Italian Aperol Spitzer and some olives while you watch the sunset!
Vernazzo – Vineria St Marta – Via Roma 44: St. Marta is a super cool wine store with tables outside. The friendly staff will help you choose from the many, many wines they have. This is off the beaten path a little bit, and up the road from the main tourist area, not near the beach, so it’s a bit calmer. Walk around the castle, over the walk way, and keep going straight up the main road until you see it – it is a small store with tables outside. Try some wines and have a snack – their pesto sauce is excellent. They have wine tasting that consists of three types of wine, red or white.
Monterossa – Enoteca da eliseo: This cute little place is owned by Eliseo and his wife, Mary. They have been in the wine business for 30 years. They are warm and friendly and want you to enjoy the wine as much as they do. The prices are fair and they have a nice selection. Try to get a seat outside and have a sip out of their monogrammed wine glasses. You won’t want to leave! Eliseo has a lot of charm and will give you as much info as you want about wine. It is a little bit hard to find; here is the address – 3 Piazza Matteotti. They are normally open until 11:30.
While you are trying all the wine you can, you should try the other local specialties, too. They have some amazing food steeped in long-standing tradition, and the yum factor is amazing! If you have little ones like we do – get some takeout, set up your table back at your hotel room, and relax after you put the kids down.
Drink Sciaccherta – Where Terra Bargon, Riomagiore: Sciaccherta is the local and special dessert wine made in Cinque Terre and is the only one of its kind in the world. The color alone sets it apart with its berry-red hue and high-alcohol content. It is smooth like a liquor but sweet and fruity. You have to have a glass of this while traveling in Cinque Terre. If you want the best experience, go have a tasting and see where it is produced in Terra Bargon. They sell the authentic sciaccherta wine, offer wine tours and tastings of their product. They will also be happy to share its taste and history with you. The shop is located just off the main street in RioMaggiore. You can contact them here –> Terra Bargon, or contact Alessandra at +39 335 6997268; she will be happy to help.
Eat the Local Specialties of Cinque Terre
Eat focaccia and/or farinata bread: This is a local specialty and originated in Ligura. Foccacia is flat bread and usually has herbs added, and sometimes you can get dipping sauce with it. My suggestion is to try it with pesto sauce. Farina is made of chick pea flour and is crusty on the outside and soft on the inside; again, a wonderful specialty of the area. If you want to try both in one bite, try what the locals eat – mezzina, which is farinata stuffed inside focaccia. Oh my goodness! Delish!
Where to get it? My vote is Monterossa and a small local place out of the way called Il Frantoio. You won’t see any signs or anyone trying to wave you inside. The shop is on Via Gioberti, a little bit out of the way but totally worth it. You might not have a lot of English speakers in the shop but just point at the food in the display – that will get your point across.
Eat Fresh Fish and Seafood in Cinque Terre
Eat frito misto and fried anchovies: Siamo Fritti Riomagiore. There are many frito misto places in all of the villages. Frito misto is fried seafood wrapped in a cone – the Italian version of fish and chips, and it’s good! Siamo Fritti was our favorite, the price was the best we found in the five lands, and the owner was working behind the counter and he happened to be very nice; plus, the food was fresh and hot.
He also has fresh fried anchovies that are a specialty of the area, and people eat these little salty treats like french fries. There are no seats – it is strictly take away. It closes early – at 8:30 – or once he sells out of his fresh fish and seafood, so go for lunch; otherwise, he will be sold out of everything. It’s on the main street, left side, going away from the sea. You can’t miss it.
Best Places to eat in Cinque Terre
Monterosso – Ristorante Miky: Make a reservation if you want to eat, and make sure to confirm because they are always busy during season with foreign tourists and Italians alike. Don’t get stressed if you have to wait even with a reservation. They have fantastic fresh seafood and fish. They make their own pasta, and everything is fresh and cooked to order. It is on the pricey side, so be prepared to pay for the greatness, but it is worth it. Fresh seafood, mussels, clams, sea bass (branzino), and sea bream (orata). The service is very good, and they can recommend wine parings to go with your food.
Address Via Fegina 104, 60015 Monterosso al Mare, Italy.
Vernazza – Resturante Belfort: This restaurant is right at the corner on top of the fort when you arrive in Vernazza. They specialize in seafood, lobster, table-side service, and great, local wines with the best view in the village. Beware – you have to climb a lot of steep stairs to get to the restaurant, so it is not for the faint of heart, but the climb is totally worth it. There is not a lot of seating so you might have to wait, even if you have a reservation (which is encouraged). Eat some squid in ink sauce and ink pasta or fresh seafood that was caught just a few hours before you arrived. You won’t be disappointed. Enjoy the view and glass of wine. Address – Via Guidoni, 42 – Vernazza, Cinque Terre. Website for reservations.
Manarola – Trattoria dal Billy: This place sits in Manrola with a great view and fantastic seafood dishes. They have fabulous salted anchovies, and I would recommend the fresh pasta with pesto if you are not having fresh fish or stuffed mussels. They also have black pasta and they make some incredible deserts. They have a large menu and something to please everyone! Make a reservation to ensure you get a table. Address: Via Rollandi 122, 19017 Manarola. Website for Reservations.
Riomaggiore – Ripa del Sole: You know it’s good when the locals eat there. I almost don’t want to tell you about this place so it stays a secret for when I return. The food is excellent, the service is even better, and the view is to die for. It does not get much better than this one! It also has the best prices of any of the seafood restaurants in all of Cinque Terre. They serve local specialties and superb risotto. They have a great wine selection and cook with all local products. If the restaurant is really busy, your service will slow down; don’t get frustrated. Just enjoy. Plus, you are in Italy – where do you have to go, anyway? Reserve your table upfront and specify if you want indoor or outdoor seating. Address: Via de’ Gaspari 282, Riomaggiore. Website for reservations.
Last but not least, take the ferry from one end of Cinque Terre to the other. If you time it right, at sunset, your trip will all be worth it. The best photos are midday in the beautiful sunshine, or just before sunset! The best view of the coast line, the beautiful colored buildings, and the landscape, is from the water. The ferries run all day long during the season! You can catch them at the water front of each town, and there are ticket vendors at the docks as well.
What Else Can I help you with in Cinque Terre?
How to get to Cinque Terre:
Parking is really difficult in the area. You either need parking with your hotel, or your best bet is to park at the La Spezia Train station. There is a parking garage with long and short term parking for 18€ per day or 8€ for a half day. This is the best price you will find and you don’t have to drive that road into Cinque Terre. The trains run all day and it is only a 7 min train ride to Riomaggiore, and 22 mins to Monterosso. You can even book your parking spot online here . To check your train schedule you can go here to TrenItalia and put in La Spezia Central to your destination. Translation button is in the upper right corner.
Place to Stay? Check out our post on all the best places to stay in Cinque Terre.
We stayed at Banchi Hotel, it is smack dab in the middle of Riomaggiore, and without a huge walk up or down the hill to the main street. There are steep steps however, and the rooms are only big enough for 2 adults, 1 child. They do have parking. If you need a family apartment with kitchen and some space the best place is Donadelmar Apartments which are brand new, fully equipped and spacious. They have no onsite parking, but they will pick you up from the train station. You can find them both at Booking.com.
If you need a car and decide to drive, My preferred vendor is SIXT car rental. You can find great deals here and 35% off weekly car rentals! Mamma Mia!
There are many steep hills and steps in Cinque Terre and you will have to drag your luggage up and down to your locations even if you drive you most likely will have to walk to your location. So Pack Light if you need some Great luggage options check out Our friends at Shop americantourister.com
If this is your first time in Italy and are not sure of the etiquette on eating out, please read my blog on How to Dine Out in Italy. Until next time!
In between your hikes, sights, and wandering, I hope you will take some time to enjoy the local food and wine. Do you have any great, secret places to eat and drink in Cinque Terre? I would love to hear about them! Just drop a comment below.
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