Menu from a lunch at Portivene Un Mare di Sapori, Portovenere, to sample the local mussels:
Marinated anchovies (with lemon and vinegar)
Fried anchovies with vinegar and herbs
Marinated mussels with tomato sauce
Battered and fried mussels
Farinata (chickpea pie) with stracchino cheese and Genoese pesto sauce
Mussels au gratin (with bread and herbs cooked in oven)
Razor clams au gratin (with bread and herbs cooked in oven)
“Gnocchetti” (potato dumplings) with mussels and clams
Portivene Un Mare di Sapori is a small restaurant on a side street behind the main façade of Portovenere’s waterfront homes. It seems to be as popular with the locals as it is with tourists and there’s not much space to fit in either. But it’s the sort of place where you stand outside and waves of garlic cooking would waft your way as you wait.
Portovenere is known for their cultivated mussels so we had more than our fair share, fried, battered and stewed. But there was also plenty of anchovies in the local waters – another ingredient featuring heavily on the menu.
But the deeply satisfying meal aside, it was the basil ice cream that really tickled my fancy. Fresh, clean and almost a little floral, it really helped to clean the palate.