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Vernazza: Il Baretto

Via Roma 31

Reviewed by: Jeff Whiteaker from CA, review #2557

When: 2007

In Vernazza, where 7 out of 8 restaurants have identical menus and prices, choosing a restaurant is simply a matter of closing your eyes and picking at random.

As I've mentioned in my other reviews of restaurants in Vernazza, they all kind of look the same, initially, and so you really have to tune into what your gut is telling you, rather than rely on the usual signals to determine whether or not to pass on a restaurant.

That said, our guts pointed us tentatively in the direction of Il Baretto on our first evening there. Located kind of in the middle of Via Roma between the train station and the shore, the ample outdoor seating offered a front-row view for people-watching the waves of fellow travelors wandering up and down the street.

For primi, I decided to try a local specialty: Troffie con Pesto. Troffie are small, twisty little cork-screw shaped pasta, and were offered with Pesto on just about every menu in Vernazza. The Pesto was great, confirming all that I'd heard about Ligurian Basil Pesto, while the dish was simple and fresh. The Troffie are unique, though I honestly don't think they make for the best carrier of Pesto - for me, Gnocchi and Linguine do a slightly better job.

My girlfriend ordered what was described on the menu as a Fish Ravioli. The fresh, tender Ravioli were stuffed with some kind of fish, and came with some sauteed veggies in a thick, tasty sauce that seemed to consist of vegetable stock, with a generous helping of flat-leaf Parsley sprinkled on top. Simple but yummy.

For the secondo, we split a salad and another local specialty, this time involving fresh anchovies with potatoes and fresh tomatoes, served in a thick Olive Oil-based sauce. Again, simple, though not life-altering. But, those anchovies were indeed fresh, which any anchovy fan knows is cause for excitement.

The regional white wine was incredibly smooth and more than merely drinkable. In fact, we didn't have a bad glass of wine during our entire stay in the Cinque Terre.

Vernazza's Gelaterie all close up early every evening except Saturday, so we were left with no choice but to order dessert from Il Baretto. We split a rich, melt-in-your mouth gooey Chocolate Souffle, which was really more like a Chocolate Lava Cake, but incredibly satisfying nonetheless.

Overall, I would say Il Baretto is pretty good and better than some of Vernazza's alternatives. However, I would definitely make it a priority to dine at Il Pirata (up the hill, past the station) and Osteria e Cantina de Mananan (in Corniglia, the next village down) before coming here.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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