Liguria, Italy: Best places to eat - chef Leigh McDivitt's picks

THE EXPERT: LEIGH MCDIVITT

After eight years as a chef with the Merivale Group (Est. and Lotus), McDivitt has spent the past four years running his own restaurants. He is now executive chef at The Vicar, a gastropub in Dural, Sydney. See thevicar.com.au 

BREAKFAST

Typically when I find myself in Liguria it means I am at home with my wife's family who live in La Spezia, next to the Cinque Terre. To me, this means for breakfast we wake up to coffee and pastries or cecina that my wife's zia (auntie) picked up that morning. Cecina is similar to a pizza base or pita and is made with chickpea flour, salt and extra virgin olive oil. It's then left to rise, rolled and baked paper thin. It's light and delicious. Cecina can be found in most bakeries or pizza parlours in Liguria and Tuscany. Pizzeria Capolinea is one of my favourite places to pick up cecina. See pizzeriacapolinea.com

SNACK

As anchovies are also a staple of the region, one of my favourite snacks is locally caught anchovies on toast with an ice-cold local beer, eaten by the water. Fresh, salty anchovies served on woodfired crusty bread with a squeeze of lemon juice; the taste of the sea with views of the sea – what could be better?

LUNCH

Luckily, my wife's family owns a boat so getting to the Cinque Terre for us is easier than it is for most tourists. For lunch we usually have pasta and a salad. Because basil is so prevalent in the area, pesto is hugely popular, so we might have that or pasta made with seafood and white wine, which is also popular in the area. One of our favourites is the light seafood and white wine pasta at an amazing restaurant located in the Cinque Terre called L'Ancora della Tortuga. See ristorantetortuga.it

APERITIVO

Nessun Dorma in Manarola in the Cinque Terre is a great place to while away the afternoon with Moretti beer and Aperol spritz. The picturesque views with a drink in hand make for a quintessential Italian aperitivo experience. The fresh toasted bruschetta is the perfect addition if you're in the mood for a small bite. See nessundormacinqueterre.com

DINNER

For dinner, my favourite restaurant is Vecchia Osteria San Rocco. The kitchen creates a daily menu from seafood and produce sourced that day from the markets. It's family run and each time I visit I am blown away. The venue is incredibly small and I have never seen it packed out. Here we enjoy locally sourced seafood such as mussels, oysters and, if you're lucky enough, line-caught tuna. (Via Costa di Santa Lucia, 25, La Spezia)

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