Where to eat in the Ligurian hinterland: the 13 best spots selected by Gambero Rosso

Jun 6 2024, 16:45
Liguria is not just the crowded Riviera or the glamour of places like Portofino and Santa Margherita. There are many inland locations, often just a few kilometres from the sea, worth discovering and visiting for their natural scenery, the beauty of ancient villages, and the wealth of typical products and wines

Any time of the year is perfect for exploring the Ligurian hinterland, both East and West, dotted with villages perched on the hills and valleys extending into Piedmont. It's a splendid area rich in history and traditions, including culinary ones. Here are 13 addresses, including a Tre Gamberi-rated restaurant in the 2024 Guide to Italy's Restaurants.

Where to eat in Campo Ligure (GE)

Caccia C’à Bugge

Trattoria. This popular spot in the Stura Valley offers a sustainable, waste-free, and traditional Ligurian-Piedmontese cuisine. The name literally means "throw it in, it's boiling" (referring to pasta water). Signature dishes include vitello tonnato, homemade ravioli, and rabbit. The setting is intimate, with limited seating (reservations required), and the wine list is well-curated, featuring several gems from abroad. Themed evenings and tastings are often organised throughout the year.

Caccia C’à Bugge – via Trieste, 32 – 010 920999-371 3840351 – pagina Facebook

Where to eat in Masone (GE)

Da Pippi

Trattoria. An inviting spot with a century of history and a family management handed down through generations. The charming setting features exposed wooden beams, terracotta floors, tasteful decor, a Berkel slicer, and a scale on display. The culinary offerings include handmade fresh pasta, game, mushrooms, truffles, and cheeses. Save room for desserts, starting with the legendary panna cotta. The wine cellar is well-stocked, including a fine selection of grappas.

Da Pippi – via Roma, 94 – 010 9269126 – Instagram @dapippiristorante

Where to eat in Ne (GE)

La Brinca

Trattoria. With Three Gamberi in the 2024 Ristoranti d’Italia Guide, this solid stronghold of typical Ligurian and Val Graveglia country cuisine has been run by the Circella family for over 35 years. It's hard to recommend just one dish; everything is delicious. However, the "brandacujun" (salted cod), "testaieu" with mortar pesto, herb ravioli "cu tuccu", Genoese minestrone, stuffed lettuce, and oven-baked veal brisket are must-tries. The wine list boasts about a thousand references, and there are hundreds of spirits, plus an oil list.

Where to eat in Badalucco (IM)

Cian de Bià

Trattoria. You park the car and walk to the historic centre of this village in the Argentina Valley. In a characteristic stone house, this much-loved spot is famous for its good cuisine, mainly based on ingredients from the family farm (primarily extra virgin olive oil) and traditional recipes. Depending on the season and market, a tasting menu is prepared, including various appetisers, a couple of first courses, second courses, and dessert, all accompanied by a good selection of wines. Reservation is essential.

La Brinca – via Campo di Ne, 58 – 0185 337480 – labrinca.it

Where to eat in Dolceacqua (IM)

Casa e Bottega

Restaurant. An unconventional spot with original decor and furnishings that combine personality and good taste. The culinary offerings, based on high-quality ingredients (including Triora bread and extra virgin olive oil), are fun and satisfying. Examples include baccalà in oil, sweet and sour onion and organic polenta, homemade gnocchi with pesto, rabbit with Rossese wine and baked potatoes, and "tacunà" (shortcrust pastry and apricot jam pie). For lunch, there are three tasting menus. Wines are up to par.

Casa e Bottega – piazza G. Garibaldi, 2 – 0184 205038-320 3339444

Where to eat in Pigna (IM)


Trattoria. Managed by the Lanteri family since 1968, this pleasant establishment offers rooms and an outdoor area. The cuisine is genuine, homemade, and based on local products, with a special mention for the famous beans (the goat stew with these beans is a regal dish). This season, you can find a tasting menu entirely dedicated to mushrooms, from fried to fresh pasta. The wine selection is carefully curated, with proper attention to local producers.

Terme – località Madonna Assunta – 0184 241046 – ristoranteterme.com

Where to eat in Altare (SV)


Restaurant. Established in 1869, this historic establishment has offered excellent local dishes with occasional nods to neighbouring Piedmont for five generations. Everything starts with a serious search for the best ingredients, which daily compose the menu's dishes. Agnolotti, fettuccine, maltagliati, and tagliolini are all homemade, as are the delicious bread and sourdough focaccia. The beautiful cellar houses hundreds of bottles, the result of many tastings and passion, and are also available for purchase. Rooms are available.

Quintilio – via A. Gramsci, 23 – 019 58000 – ristorantequintilio.it

Where to eat in Calizzano (SV)


Trattoria. Calizzano is a village between Piedmont and Liguria, famous mainly for its chestnuts. This welcoming osteria, managed by Eugenio Nari (in the dining room) and Maria Grazia Ravera (in the kitchen), is located in the historic centre's narrow streets filled with artisanal shops. The preparations are of undisputed quality, original, and strictly local, offered in a rich and articulated fixed menu. Local wines, with some regional and Piedmontese excursions, as well as a pleasant house wine, are available. Reservation required.

Msetutta – via G. Garibaldi, 7 – 339 3199648 – pagina Facebook

Where to eat in Castelbianco (SV)

Da Gin

Restaurant. An old inn with comfortable rooms and a lush garden, managed for years by the Fenocchio family. The cuisine is primarily based on vegetables from their garden and km0 ingredients, skillfully and creatively prepared, like the rabbit with almond cream. In autumn, mushrooms, chestnuts, and game dominate. Vegetarian and intolerance-friendly options are available. A small but well-stocked cellar allows you to choose at sight or be guided by the host's suggestions.

Da Gin – località Colletta Sottana via Pennavaire, 79 – 0182 77001 – dagin.it

Where to eat in Millesimo (SV)

Pantarei Cucina

Trattoria. A charming little spot in the heart of the historic centre, with tables also under the arcades. The cuisine strictly follows Ligurian classics, meticulously using local products and precise cooking. In the right season, truffles, both white and black, take centre stage, paired with eggs, tagliolini, and velvety soups (delicious Jerusalem artichoke soup). Occasionally, some fish alternatives may appear on the menu. Among the desserts, don't miss the panna cotta with chestnuts and chocolate. The wine list is small but enriched by many by-the-glass options.

Pantarei Cucina – piazza Italia, 52 – 019 565968 – pagina Facebook

Where to eat in Carrodano (SP)

Antica Locanda Luigina

Trattoria. With 70 years of activity under the same family management, this inn with rooms in the heart of Val di Vara is the perfect place to relax and enjoy cuisine drawn from the vast range of products from this fortunate corner of the territory. Besides tasting menus (from vegan to mushroom-based), there's an enticing seasonal menu featuring porcini gnocchi with red potatoes and borage, ravioli with ragù, stewed rabbit, and casserole wild boar. Local wines are available.

Antica Locanda Luigina – frazione Mattarana via Aurelia, 182 – 0187 893683-348 7628240 – anticalocandaluigina.com

Where to eat in Ortonovo (SP)

Da Fiorella

Trattoria. It would be worth coming here just for the splendid view encompassing the entire gulf, from La Spezia to the islands of the Tuscan archipelago. Not stepping inside to enjoy the well-made dishes this spot offers would be a real shame. The menu is divided between Tuscan and Ligurian specialities, a reminder that this is borderland. Panigacci, ravioli with ragù, chicken broth tortellini, polenta and stockfish, lamb chops with Porto, chestnut semifreddo, and black truffle. House wine and interesting labels complete the experience.

Da Fiorella – frazione Nicola via per Nicola, 46 – 0187 66857 – pagina Facebook

Where to eat in Varese Ligure (SP)


Restaurant. A historic establishment – with parking, garden, rooms, and restaurant – dating back to 1760 and still under the Marcone family. The attention to guests is evident from the first approach and even more so at the table. The quality of the mainly organic ingredients matches the textbook execution of typical recipes. The dishes linger long in the memory, such as ravioli with “u tuccu,” “croxetti,” Genoese cima, and “tumaxelle.” Local and regional wines are available to pair.

Amici – via M. Caranza, 33 – 0187 842139 – albergoamici.it

cross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram