Liguria is a region rich in food culture in a country obsessed with what goes on the plate. There simply is nowhere else in the world that cares so passionately about food. The dedication to eating well shouldn't be mis-understood, it's not about fine dining, table cloths and intricate presentation, it's about love.
The Ligurians, like every region in Italy have their own style of cuisine that has it's foundation in high quality ingredients, cooked from scratch and eaten simply. Here you'll find Trattoria's, Osteria's, neighbourhood restaurants, all buzzing with locals and tourists that love to eat in the myriad of restaurants on offer. The principle Ligurian building blocks are olives, green herbs (pesto is from here), seafood and of course tomatoes and Mediterranean vegetables such as aubergine, peppers and courgette.
To an extent the restaurants here are fairly homogeneous. However each has it's own little tweak that makes it worth visiting. Some are THE place to go for local dishes such as Coniglio alla Ligure (ligurian rabbit), fresh fish and shellfish or a good old Piedmontese steak, most will serve a decent pasta with vongole (clams) dish, have a solid pizza menu and some form of grill serving both seafood and meats. The secrets to knowing which is worth your visit? See below!
An MTB Beds go to, we've been visiting this back alley eatery for years and shared many a great night in it's stylish, brick, shabby chic interior. Found just off Finale Ligure's main square it's a favourite amongst locals for it's Focaccia, rotating specials and flavoursome grill.
Simone, the owner and maitre'd will always be there to greet you and make you feel at home. Every table is an interesting place to sit and absorb the atmosphere, cosy and always buzzing, bookings are essential.
Food wise always consider the specials, the seafood and homemade pasta is always good, though get a clear understanding of what you're ordering if you aren't sure. The staff speak English and some German. There will often be a range of steaks that can be selected, grilled, sliced and shared with generous sides. It's advisable to steer clear of the basic 'meat and chips' section of the menu, unless you are looking for a grilled meat, and chips only.
Go to dishes are the sottofilleto Piedmont steak (entrecote), and amazing focaccia's. A bonus is a great wine selection on the shelf as you enter.
Ai Cuattru Canti
Based in Finalborgo and helmed by the brother of Maurizio at Osteria del Cantoniere, This is classic Ligurian cooking. The only menu is to be found on a chalkboard and it's advisable to eat like the locals do in this neighbourhood diner. Start with an amazing anti-pasti selection that will include their famous farinata (a chickpea flour fired slice), then look through the board to find yourself a main course of something you may not have heard of. The Cogniglio alla Ligure (Ligurian rabbit) is incredible, as is the acciughe (fresh anchovy fillets - amazingly light and delicate when not salted down). Backed by friendly service and a solid local wine selection it's a top pick, bookings essential.
Think Italy, think Pizza. However no two pizzas are created the same! There are thin bases, crispy bases, thick bases, sloppy bases, Neapolitan, bianco's and even foccacia's that are pizzas....In Il Basilico you have the Neapolitan, south Italian pizza from, you guessed it Naples. This kind of pizza is special to the Italians, like all their food! There aren't many that are protected by Unesco however!
The ingredients here are fastidiously authentic as the pizza style, with it's soft, hand kneaded, fragrant base (read - not crispy). They are delicious and as true to style as you'll get outside of Naples itself. A beachfront restaurant with great service, they also make a superb fritto misto and have a good selection of pastas.
Humbly offered to you as one of the finest places to eat genuine food, anywhere. Never mind culture or traditions, this place has something special. It happens to be in Italy so the food is of course loyal to the region, but there's something about Maurizio, the chef here. Having been introduced to the Osteria years ago on one of Ride On Noli's tours, we've yet to eat poorly here. Maurizio often forages with his father for the ingredients to prepare for service, he's a busy man as the only chef. The restaurant itself is tiny and homely, in a renovated outbuilding of the B&B Cantoniere. The menu consists of some anti-pasti, the stuffed anchovy and farinata are top picks, some handmade pastas and a grilled meat selection, serviced by a wood fired oven that drives the kitchen's flavours.
By night this is THE place to come and eat beef. Quite incredible cuts of Piedmontese steak cooked perfectly medium rare and served with buttery potato, this place is something special.
We debated putting this sports bar on here, it doesn't seem particularly authentic on first impression. There's something however that every mountain biker secretly craves, a decent burger. It's something the Italians don't often do all that well, sticking to pizza and pasta as their fast food go to. The burgers here at Pilade are very good, and certainly scratch the itch. There's a typically sports bar friendly selection of grilled ribs and chicken wings, aswell as a fine steak selection.
This restaurant is a relatively simple choice for the list in that we believe it to serve the most authentic and best seafood in Finale Ligure. It's odd though, it's traditional, staunchly so. The fit out is eclectic, there is a plastic parrot in a cage on display at the front door and the lights are too bright. It does however have the best fish in town, only opening when the fishing is good. The zuppe de pesce (seafood soup) is incredible! La Tavernetta is a must visit for seafood lovers.
Al Vecchio Mercato / Zum Alten Markt
The do it all bistro that can cover most bases. It's two names nod the German popularity of Finale Ligure, as do some of the menu items. The service is often fun, with the three sisters that run the restaurant often seen barking commands at the pizza chef and male wait staff, some nights it provides all the entertainment you'll need! The pizzas are good, crispy and plentiful in choice, the grill selection is well stocked and the fried calamari may secretly be among the best in town. Good value and solid.
The famous Finale Ligure square is one of the greatest public spaces on earth to have a beer after riding. The history of the location to a mountain biker is palpable, the people watching is great and above this, the aperitivo game is strong! San Pedro shares the spread of riders and public alike, attracted by it's friendly, jovial staff and generous snacks on offer from 18h. Here the snacks are self service and carb heavy, no wonder you'll see a stack of bikes outside every afternoon post uplifts! The beer is cold and living is easy!
The go to hangout for us since the bike shop opened it's bar in 2018. From coffee in the morning to panini or pesto lasagne at lunch and burgers in the evening. Aside from the idea of eating and drinking in a bike shop, it's the people that keep us coming back. They are so friendly you feel as though you're in their front room, nothing is too much trouble. The apertivo snacks are very good, the cooking from Mum is better! Lunch consists of cured ham plates and burrata mozzarella cheese and a lovingly made toasted panino selection, dinner expands on the theme a little. With Brewdog and local Italian beers on tap, be careful not to walk out with a new Fox rding kit after a couple too many!
Finale Ligure's micro brewery. Excellent beer by any standard, in part we love the idea that it is impossible to get outside of the brewery itself, it's a good excuse to go back! Lagers, stouts, brown, American and Indian pale ale's are always on offer, we've tasted a brilliant ESB and a take on the new wave Australian style of pale lager or ale, that is an absolute must on a hot day. Serving good old fashioned nuts in the shell with your beer aswell as a solid snack selection, it's a great place to spend the evening.
Bar Van Gogh
Bar Van Gogh is the bustling hub of night activity on any given evening in Finale Ligure. Often home to the beautiful people of the town, it's large terrace is busy and wondering wait staff roam the tables taking orders. Serving a very serviceable aperitivo and an even more serviceable G&T, it's the place to be seen and the most likely place to end up with impromptu parties, which we'll attest to!
Cafe by day, buzzing bar by night, cafe Caviglia is a do it all number in the centre of the Finale Piazza. Not only does it serve great coffee and pastry all day, there's a good chef behind the stove cooking up classic Italian pasta staples such as carbonara and lasagne. In the evening, it's a relaxed vibe until it's not kind of place, which is a seemingly off the cuff decision taken by the staff or the clients. More laid back than the opposing Van Gogh, it's good spot to watch the evening carry on by.