Cinque Terre + Portofino restaurants
It doesn't take much: a table outside a harborside trattoria, a plate piled high with spaghetti al pesto and a flask of frisky Vermentino wine, congenial company and a view of the sun setting across the bay. But the Cinque Terre dining experience doesn't always match up to this vision. The main problem is the sheer volume of visitor numbers and the lack of the sort of regular local clientele that forces restaurateurs to stay on top of their game. To eat really well in the Cinque Terre, you need to be prepared to seek out the diamonds in the rough and to go in the opposite direction from the crowds (two of the best places to eat here, Cappun Magru and Il Ciliegio, are up in the hills, surrounded by vineyards).
Portofino restaurants maintain a fairly high standard, but they're not cheap. Here, too, it's worth straying farther afieldperhaps to a temple of traditional cuisine like La Cucina di Nonna Nina in San Rocco on the other side of the promontory, or to farinata specialist Luchin in Chiavari.