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Ligurian harvest: Ristorante Sarri review

Ligurian harvest: Ristorante Sarri review

by Tom Riby 16 November 2015

Travelling the length and breadth of Italy can be hungry work. Tom Riby takes some time out on the coast of Imperia to try the food at Andrea Sarri's famed seafood restaurant.

A long train journey from the centre of Italy led me onto a small fishing village overlooking the seafront in Imperia. Here I could see the picturesque view of Imperia, a town in the region of Liguria in the North of Italy near the French border. Pastel houses covered the beautiful Italian Riviera coast and the smell of the exotic sea air ignited my curiosity to search deeper into the coastal landscape and villages, seeking a place to rest and enjoy the local seafood.

One of those pastel houses right by the beachfront was Ristorante Sarri. Minding its own business, the restaurant was immediately eye-catching with a beautiful front patio of crystal white chairs shaded with a modern canopy. It was a serene escape from the beach and an escape from normality.

As I looked out upon the beautiful blue sea in front of me, chef Andrea Sarri tapped me on the shoulder and invited me to take a look around. This is a new restaurant; it’s one year old and is where Andrea claims to have found his true home to share his recipes.

Ristorante Sarri
The restaurant has a humble interior, but the dishes are of the highest quality
Anchovies
The first course involved anchovies that had been fried three times

As the son of restaurateurs, Andrea has never been afraid to experiment and get involved. His cuisine is based on product identity and territory – the most important concepts of Italian culinary culture – and is brought to the table with friendly service and a chef who makes his guests feel like welcomed regulars to the restaurant. Ristorante Sarri is not a room in which to enjoy good food, but more of an encounter with those who cook with and care about it.

The restaurant has already become famous, due in part to the local fishermen who bring their catch to Andrea every day. The flavours of the earth come from the farm of Andrea’s uncle and the meat comes from the historic Martini workshops of Boves in the province of Cuneo. It is what Andrea calls ‘the local choice’; even the bread is home-made.

For lunch we were presented with five courses that showcased the offering from Liguria that day, including a welcoming dish called Three fried anchovies with reduction ‘bittersweet’, followed by roasted and stuffed squid with buffalo mozzarella and polenta. The gourmet journey continued with a lightly battered fritto misto that gave a full depth of flavour to the fish, Cappellotti of farm rabbit from the oven and a soup of air dried mushrooms. To finish was Absolute chocolate from Madagascar with orange and Campari sorbet. In all, it was a beautiful combination of sweet and bitter flavours brought together as a well-made menu.

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