Pesto Heaven

Because of the early morning flight out of Gatwick and the transfer in Pisa to get to Cinque Terre, we didn’t really have a real meal until we arrived in Monterosso al Mare. After arriving in town and checking in at Hotel Minerva, we made a beeline for Ristorante Belvedere for dinner.

We started with the Acciughe Marinate which were anchovies marinated in olive oil and garlic. There was distinctly rich anchovy flavor which surprisingly blew me away. I really, really liked it! The anchovies were still salty, but it wasn’t overpowering. It was just good flavorful anchovies that went well with olive oil and bread. On a side note, the bread was gawd awful! Like seriously terrible!!! Dry and flavorless! Thank goodness for the salt from the anchovies.
Next up was the primi course which is usually a pasta dish of some sort. Pesto is famous for this region of Italy, specifically Liguria. There is something about the climate that contributes to a special quality in the basil and olive oil from Liguria. For those of you not in the know, pesto is made from fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and pine nuts. We ordered the Trenette al Pesto which essentially was a pesto linguini, but it also had this round potato balls and green beans. It was amazing! It was absolutely delicious… the pesto sauce was not as salty and overpowering as what I’m used to having. Instead, it had a very rich basil taste and was fresh and relatively light. So flavorful and yummy! I loved it!

The next course included the octopus salad, Polpo in Insalata, which was a simple dish of chopped octopus and cherry tomatoes mixed with basil and olive oil. The octopus was well-cooked, not too chewy. The tomatoes were out of this world though. They were so fresh tasting. I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but there was so much flavor compared to tomatoes in the States.

The last dish of the meal was the fritto misto which was a deep-fried mix of shrimp and squid. The shrimps were tiny and all dried up. The squid was a little bit better, but it lacked salt or something. This was probably the plainest and least flavorful dish. Although I probably should have known better than to order this since it really wasn’t that special. I think I just had a craving for some fried foods. Hehe!
Overall, the restaurant was pretty good. Rick Steve’s review was spot on, and we were happy with our dinner. I think the most unsettling part (mainly for others) is that the restaurant is located directly under the train track, so every so often the train would pass overhead and you could feel the rumble and shake. It was a little off putting at first, but I didn’t really mind. It kind of gave some character to the place. We sat inside, but I imagine if we were outside, we would get a nice view of the water since the restaurant was literally right next to the pier.

PAFO Ratings for Ristorante Belvedere:
Price 3 ½ stars
Ambiance 3 stars
Food 3 ½ stars
Overall rating 3 ½ stars

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