We dined here on 1 August 2013. We had read a lot about this restaurant here on TripAdvisor, so our expectations were quite high. We were not disappointed.
We had booked a table for 8 PM, and we were the first guests to arrive. We could choose which table we wanted and we chose the one by the window. The window was wide open as the outside temperature was close to 30°C. We had a nice view of the steep hills above Groppo and we could admire the sunset.
The lady who served was very pleasant and she explained the menu in many languages: Italian, German and English. We could see the kitchen from where we sat and we saw the chef and his assistant working.
We chose the Menu of the Day, which was 42 € per person for antipasto, primo piatto, secondo piatto and dessert. We chose the specialty of the house for antipasto, the Cappun Magru. This is a gastronomic piece of art consisting of layers of beetroot, avocado, fish and seafood accompanied by various shells, such as mussels, clams and oyster. It was delicious and quite plentiful. Although we were pretty hungry we started to get quite full already after this antipasto.
For primo piatto we chose a fish soup with sardines and a pasta dish with fish and seafood, respectively. Both were delicious and tasty.
The crux of the evening was the main course. Since we were quite full already we were happy to see that the main course was not too plentiful. The dish consisted of fried fish in relatively small pieces accompanied by a little tower of vegetables where one could find avocado and cucumber among other vegetables. The sauce contained hazelnuts and was delicious. The fish was a bit crispy on the outside from the frying but really juicy on the inside. This combination of a crispy outside and a juicy inside is not easy to accomplish, and I have to say that this is one of the best prepared fish dishes I have ever tasted. Being Norwegian and raised on fish it is not easy to impress me with fish or seafood, but this dish was something out of the ordinary. We asked the name of the fish and it turned out that this is a species that lives deep into the ocean. Its latin name is: Schedophilus ovalis. In English it is called Imperial Blackfish, and it is found in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea, at depths of between 70 and 700 m. Its length is up to 100 cm. Our waitress told us that the chef had found this fish on the market in La Spezia the same morning and that this was the first time he prepared a dish with this fish. We were lucky to get to taste this delicious fish.
For dessert we had yoghurt mousse with fresh berries from the forest and an amaretto parfait, respectively. The dessert was rounded off with a good espresso.
The accompany the meal we had a local white wine called Aquamarina Tobiolo. One the one hand it had some round sweetness, but on the other hand it was also dry. It was a wine with a certain character and it married the food very well.
I would like to refute one of the reviews made here which says that you can get the same food down in Manarola and for less money. I have to say that I really doubt that. You can find cheaper food, yes, but the restaurants I have visited in Manarola, although I had nothing to complain about, are not even in the remote neighbourhood of Cappun Magru when it comes to sophistication and gastronomic experience. While the restaurants down in Manarola serve you good rugged cuisine, Cappun Magru offers you fine dining in a stylish, yet relaxed atmosphere.
On the negative side I could mention that the chef never appeared at our table, which is one of those gestures one appreciates in a good and serious restaurant. Our waitress could also have been a bit more formally dressed, perhaps. That said, we had a very good service and the waitress was very keen to explain all the dishes and she even brought us a big encyclopedia on fish to explain about the Imperial Blackfish.
All in all a very good and memorable meal.
This restaurant can only be highly recommended.