Walk along the cliffs from Riomaggiore to Manarola
The terrace is the place to be and you will need to book to get a seat there (although the day before is fine). Billy himself works the floor and speaks enough English that with some miming and our very limited Italian we are able to order with ease. Trattoria Dal Billy’s style is home cooking, fresh ingredients and unadorned simple food.
A case in point is the Acciughe al Limone which is a dish of fresh anchovies “cooked” like a ceviche in the lemon sauce that they are served in. These are not the brown, dried and stinky anchovies that come in tins or on top of your pizza. The anchovies are fresh from the sea and a translucent white. Slippery and salty with the foil of lemon this is the best dish I eat on the Cinque Terre. Equally refreshing is the Italian classic of wedges of melon wrapped in prosciutto. Such a simple dish but with top quality ingredients the combination is unbeatable. The serving size at Trattoria Dal Billy is home style as well and MTV’s plate contains almost the whole melon with at least half a cured pig.
Anchovies in lemon
On the way down to the terrace past the upstairs kitchen we spy them making squid ink pasta to order cranking it through the pasta machine by hand. Obviously we are going to have to order that night’s special dish of squid ink pasta with local seafood. Served in a large platter to share, just like your Nonna would make if you had one, the oily black curls of pasta are dotted with seafood. There are scampi, prawns, clams, mussels and a local specialty which was almost like a mussel but housed in a long, thin shell and is found on the rocks in Manarola according to the waiter.
It couldn’t all be brilliant of course and the cheese platter was overpriced and stingy. There was no sign of a generous board of cheese to choose from, rather we were presented with a plate containing a few fridge cold wedges of Parmigiano, Pecorina and Gorgonzola. Still, this was the only disappointment in what was otherwise a brilliant meal in a charming local trattoria. Anchovies will never be the same for me again…
Details: Via A Rollandi, 122 (Ph 0187 920628)