Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

RESTAURANT: Ristorante "Al Caruggio," Monterosso al Mare, Italy

Upon our arrival in Cinque Terre, we first checked into our hotel, the Hotel Villa Steno, perched at the top of the hill in the old town of Monterosso al Mare. Each room had a lovely terasse overlooking the town and the ocean.

After a little rest , J. and I went to explore our village. We walked through the main street of the old town, stopping for an espresso, and then out past the beach to the dock, and then back and through a tunnel to the new town. We took a stroll down the oceanfront street in the new town and found Cinque Terre's cinema. It was an open air theater where "Codigo Da Vinci" was playing. We were delighted to find that in Europe, Audrey Tatou's face is plastered all over the poster and her name is slathered across the top in giant letters. Then, all small, down at the bottom ... "oh, Tom Hanks is in this too." Awesome.

We were immediately drawn in by a little foccacceria , where we had some olive foccacia bread and a drink while sitting outside and peoplewatching. Then we walked the rest of the way down the street and then came back. On the way back, we got stuck at the gelato stand , where I had to purchase a pistachio gelato.

After that, we made our way back to the hotel, where my parents informed us that the hotel staff had recommended the Ristorante Al Caruggio, which in English means "the restaurant in the alley," which is exactly what it was. They didn't have a table immediately ( a good sign! It was crowded) so we had to wander a bit before sitting down to eat. We quickly discovered the "Fast Bar" and had some Campari before heading back for our dinner.

At the restaurant, I decided to try the Ligurian specialty--trofie with pesto. Trofie is a rustic Ligurian pasta that most resembles a joint when uncooked, and most resembles a worm when cooked. Pesto was invented in this region and remains a local specialty. Everyone makes their own fresh so there is variation from place to place . This particular pesto was heavy on the basil and was my favorite out of the ones I had this trip.

J. and my dad shared the risotto al frutti di mare. My dad balked at first due to his "shellfish allergy" which apparently only applies to fish that are in actual shells (clams and mussels) and not those with hard carapaces (shrimp and lobster) and is not life-threatening, merely stomach-threatening. But he managed to down his meal anyway and I didn't hear of any ill effects.

My mom had a fish fresh caught from the Golfo dei Poeti and cooked by the local method, which meant in some kind of pot.

I think this was truly a "local" restaurant. It was probably the one place we are where I heard no language besides Italian (except at our table). All of the food was freshly prepared, simple and delicious.

After dinner we strolled down to the beach area where a band was playing, hung about for a bit and then finally gave in to the monster jet lag and had to go to bed.



My other friends just got back, and they have 600 pictures we will see when we visit them soon. As a slideshow! Do you have that many?

said by Anyanka at 6:44 PM Delete

No! We have 300 and something, but you will not have to look at all of them. The food ones will go on the blog and other than that we are selecting out an assortment of pictures and I'll do a slideshow on my computer.

said by KT at 7:13 PM Delete

Well, I think they went to Florence and Rome, too, and are both awesoem artists, so it makes sense that they wound have a few pictures of that...check out the LA Times' food section today if you haven't; some delicious summery recipies, like cucumber gazpacho and a bready pudding with seasonal fruit!

said by Anyanka at 7:15 PM Delete

I saw! By the way, we should do something ... assuming N. gets better. Maybe Friday? Or maybe we could just come over and hang all mellow-like?

said by KT at 7:17 PM Delete

Yes, or...not. Hopefully the new carpet won't be as allergenic...

About tomateos I know you have a thing, but...if you are going to try any (here anyway, rather than Italy) I would try some local heirloom tomatoes. They don't have that mealy texture, and they aren't red...maybe your body/mind wouldn't even recognize them as tomatoes? This heirloom tomato salad your husband and I had once at Angeli was just soooo good, it seems a shame for you to not try it. And you know those tomatoes were local...

said by Anyanka at 9:54 PM Delete

Hmmm ... we'll see. Maybe a bite of someone else's sometime.

Did you read the story about the people who dropped everything and moved to Big Sur to start a bakery? Jealous!

said by KT at 6:58 AM Delete

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