10 Nov, 2017
At Il Pirata of the Cinque Terre, Jan Norman uncovers a treasure trove of pastries that leads to a bigger stash.
Replete from an overstuffed ricotta cream cannoli and in a state calorific surplus, we waved our good-byes before setting off on the hiking trails of the Cinque Terre.
“Come back tonight for a dinner with no view.”, called out Pirate no1. The humorous irony of the viewlessness of this establishment was not lost on the proprietors.
We were in Vernazza, a postcard-perfect hamlet of the Cinque Terre. The five hillside villages are literally clinging to the cliff-sides so views are simply completely unavoidable. Even the public toilet and the train ticket kiosk have panoramic vistas.
So we did. We returned for the viewless dinner. Il Pirata is wedged between a car park, a laundromat and the backside of a multi-story apartment block. It is a setting that could not be more ordinary right there in an area of hyperbolic extraordinariness. We had found the oxymoron of locations.
But a couple of bites into the menu and we knew that we had unlocked a priceless cache of treasure for the taste-buds. It was a meal to remember out of memorable meals. We plundered our way through plates of pasta so good it was already calling for a repeat visit. The parmigiana di melanzane drew lip-smacking grunts of approval from our table of jovial swashbucklers. The gnocchi with pesto and gorgonzola sped silently down the hatch without so much as an offer to share.
We kept things regional by trying trofie, the local Ligurian pasta that is short, thin and twisted (the polar opposite of the locals who are tall, of rounded build and full of straightforward friendliness). Combined with pesto, another Ligurian invention, these pasta twirls are an easy-eating delight. Closing the circle of local, we ordered a bottle of our new favourite white wine, Vermentino, a quaffable regional varietal. In step with the marine environs, there is a good selection of seafood dishes alongside a mushroom risotto and the greatest comfort food of all time, spaghetti alla bolognese.
The pirates themselves are twin brothers who keep the clientele well fed, hydrated and beating a steady path to the trove of viewless deliciousness.
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