The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Delicious seafood @ Antica Trattoria Centro, Levanto (Italy)

I'm so excited to begin writing about the next leg of our European trip last summer! Our trip began in France, where we spent a few days in Paris, and another few days in the Brittany region. We then made the short plane trip across to Italy, where we had a quick one-day stopover in Pisa before moving onto our main destination in Italy, the Cinque Terre area. It didn't seem to make much sense to find accommodation in one of the five villages of the Cinque Terre since accommodation would be scarce and expensive in the peak summer season, so I decided to base our family in Levanto, just north of the northernmost Cinque Terre village. The Cinque Terre is easily accessible by train from Levanto, and we didn't have to deal with the hordes of tourists that bombarded the five villages everyday. The first thing we did after putting our luggage down at our B&B was look for lunch! We discovered my first two choices weren't open at lunch time, but the third proved to be a gem! Antica Trattoria Centro is located in the busiest part of this small town, and it was pretty easy getting to it.

Outdoor dining room on the terrace at the back of the restaurant:

This trattoria has a relaxed atmosphere, and service was friendly and pleasant. There were a couple of al fresco tables out the front by the road and an indoor dining room, but we were led out to the back to a nice shaded dining area by the garden. The menu was large, but we wanted to have a light lunch so we ordered only two things, the Antipasti misti di mare (seafood antipasti) and Risotto ai frutti di mare (seafood risotto). Little did we know there were so many individual dishes in the antipasti course that we were almost full by the time the risotto was served (it didn't help much that the bread was a great accompaniment to the antipasti). There was also a no-fish antipasti course, for those who don't eat fish and seafood (though I think seafood-lovers would be fools not to eat seafood in this region). The food was fantastic, utilising fresh produce and quality ingredients.

Bread basket:

Antipasti misti di mare (seafood antipasti, 16&euro per order, minimum 2). First plate was fish carpaccio with a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of herb:

Antipasti plate #2 consisted of fatty salmon and a mixed seafood salad:

The third antipasti plate had more fish, which I believed were tuna and mackerel that had been salt-cured and air-dried:

Next we were served Ligurian anchovies done two ways: marinated...:

... and fried. The fried plate also had gamberi al sesamo (sesame prawns) and seafood arancini (fried rice balls):

Zuppetta di muscoli (marinara-style mussels):

The final plate of the antipasti course was squid:

Risotto ai frutti di mare (seafood risotto, 15&euro per order, minimum 2) - yummy and full of seafood umami-ness, though I thought the texture and consistency was more like paella than risotto:

Then it was time for dessert! There was a good range of desserts on the menu, but hubby and I were both drawn to the affogato, an Italian dessert we'd heard about but never really tried. The affogato was so good, that all others we've had since then (in Italy and out) could not measure up to that first one at Trattoria Centro. I would go back there just for the affogato! (This reminds me of the first tiramisu we had in Italy a few years back, a custard-style tiramisu that was quite different to the usual versions of tiramisu (which we both are not very keen on) - that was the best tiramisu we've ever had, and haven't been able to find one like it ever since).

Affogato al caffe (7&euro) - the bitter and hot espresso was deliciously offset by the creamy and cold vanilla ice cream, and there were a couple of roasted coffee beans that gave a lovely crunch:

Antica Trattoria Centro is a good choice for a hearty meal in Levanto.

[Prices quoted above do not include taxes and surcharges.]

Antica Trattoria Centro
Corso Italia 25
19015 Levanto
La Spezia, Italy
Tel. +39 0187 808157

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