Restaurants in Portofino

When the VIP crowd gets to be too much, Portofinesi decamp to the family-run trattoria. For all the shipping memorabilia on the walls, there’s no sea view, but the food—like fresh sole with creamy pine nut and white wine sauce—is transporting enough.

This restaurant is located in the five-star Hotel Splendido, a former 16th-century monastery overlooking Portofino’s bay. Sit on the outdoor patio and enjoy specialties like sea bream with potatoes, black olives, and pine nuts; and cappuccino cream with whipped meringue sauce.

In a village without a butcher's shop or a school, the hub of life is a 95-year-old bakery that serves freshly baked Ligurian focaccia, topped with onions or cheese. The pastries (miniature meringues, macaroons) are irresistible, too.

You may have to compete with celebs, such as Denzel Washington and Giorgio Armani, for one of the 15 outdoor tables on Puny’s patio, but fortunately, there are another 14 tables inside. The simple dishes like handmade pappardelle pasta with tomato and pesto taste as good indoors as al fresco.

The scent of fresh basil from the chef’s made-to-order pesto greets you as you enter the hole-in-the-wall near the San Fruttuoso Abbey (a half-hour boat ride from Portofino). The menu depends on the daily catch, so this is a destination for the culinarily adventurous.