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Map guide: the best restaurants in Calabria

by Great Italian Chefs 04 Jul 2018

Calabria was once one of Italy’s most under-appreciated regions. Recently, however, the heel of Italy has captured the attention of tourists eager to discover its coast, mountains, pretty towns and mouth-watering local cuisine. Its dramatic landscape, scattered with bergamot plantations and lemon groves, stretches into impressive national parks. The towns and villages burst into life throughout the summer, hosting an array of festival and events, such as the sausage festival held in Spilinga in August where locals and tourists alike tuck into the spicy soft sausage known as ‘nduja.

I, Matteo, along with my brother Salvatore, moved from our hometown in Calabria to Bologna as students to eat, and then to create, seriously good pizza. We opened our first pizzeria in 2010 in Castel Maggiore and now have a further eight restaurants in Italy and two Radio Alice pizzerias in London. These are our favourite places to visit when we’re back in Calabria.

1. Antica Masseria Salmena

Just off the highway you can find Morano Calabro, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. It’s home to Antica Masseria Salmena, a small 100-hectare farm that focuses on cows, being both bred and raised on the farm. Further down the road, you’ll find a shop which sells the delicious farm-reared beef and a traditional ‘braceria’ where the specially aged beef is cooked on embers. Vegetarians won’t go hungry either, being able to enjoy the local vegetable-based seasonal antipasti.

Contact information
Contrada Piana, Morano Calabro, Cosenza, 87016, Italy

Telephone

+39 349 476 1366

2. Da Lucrezia

You’ll only find fish caught from Amendolara on the menu here, with recipes from the fishermen of Trebisacce. Dishes are based on pesce azzurro; local Mediterranean fish dishes. Emphasis on local products such as the oranges of Trebisacce and rice cultivated a few kilometres away in the Piana di Sibari add to the authenticity of the food, as does the beautiful location. The must-try dish has to be the grilled cuttlefish covered in its own black ink.

Contact information
46 Via XXV Aprile, Trebisacce, Cosenza, 87075, Italy

Telephone

+39 0981 57431

3. Experience Cafè

Further north of Trebisace, on a beautiful stretch of beach, there is an authentic little café that serves natural wines and fabulously creative cocktails. The Kitchen is run by two brothers, and it’s a great choice for an aperitivo whilst you snack on focaccia cooked by their mother in the small kitchen. This is a world away from the normal olives and nuts that would normally accompany your cocktail. My top tip is to order the hamburger, but make sure you sit outside as the night always unfolds with plenty of surprises!

Contact information
43/A Via Mare, Rocca Imperiale Marina, Cosenza, 87074, Italy

Telephone

+39 329 085 5997

4. Dattilo

Amongst the vines and olive trees of a biodynamic farm lies this picturesque family-run Michelin-starred restaurant, championing local ingredients and the best of Calabrian cuisine. Chef Caterina Ceraudo is known across Italy for her incredible cooking, and the on-site vineyard keeps endangered Calabrian grape varieties from dying out.

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Contact information
Farm Ceraudo, Strongoli, Crotone, 88816, Italy

Telephone

+39 (0) 962 865613

5. Il Biscardino

Wind your way up the steep hills, less than twenty kilometres from the Ionian Sea, and you’ll find a hidden gem. Il Biscardino is an eco-lodge where you can sleep comfortably in spacious rooms and eat home-grown vegetables from the abundant garden. The homely cooks use ancient recipes from Sila to highlight seasonal ingredients such as wild herbs and mushrooms from the mountain’s rich soil. They also produce their own salami from Calabrian black pigs bred on the farm.

Contact information
SS 177 snc., Cropalati, Cosenza, 87060, Italy

Telephone

+39 393 787 8012

6. La Vecchia Posta

Have you heard of morzello? Everyone knows what it is in southern Italy. If you are in Florence you’ll find a lampredotto sandwich (made from a cow’s stomach), but in Catanzaro it’s typical to eat tripe cooked slowly in tomato sauce and chilli, traditionally served inside a pitta bread. This really is something not to miss when in Catanzaro, and La Vecchia Posta is where to find the best example of it.

Contact information
49 Viale degli Angioini, Catanzaro, 88100, Italy

7. L'A Gourmet L’Accademia

It’s hard to find new and innovative kitchens in Calabria, but this is an exception to the rule, and a fantastic exception at that. Chef Filippo Cogliandro is known for his creative flair and modern techniques. He creates a gastronomic journey through his food, inspired by tradition and also the raw materials of his surroundings. The dishes are like mythological stories in which the main characters are ingredients from the sea and the land, inspired by a combination of sensations and tastes.

Contact information
6 Via Largo Cristoforo Colombo, Reggio Calabria, 89125, Italy

Telephone

+39 0965 312968

8. Ristorante Abbruzzino

The Michelin-starred Ristorante Abbruzzino isn’t easy to find, but once inside you’ll feel like you’ve come to the Abruzzino family home after the team’s warm welcome. The food also reflects this homely feel, as it showcases the traditional flavours of Calabria. Tradition is paired with a modern twist executed by the talented and super young Luca Abbruzzino. The restaurant itself is worth a visit to Calabria and the must have dish is the ‘jelatina’ and pasta cooked in ‘nduja water with sea urchins. Don’t miss the desserts either – the most iconic dish is made with prickly pear leaves.

Contact information
Via Fiume Savuto, Cava-Cuculera Nobile, Catanzaro, 88100, Italy

Telephone

+39 0961 799008

9. Osteria del Pescatore

Don’t try and ask for a menu in English at Osteria del Pescatore. There isn’t even a printed menu in the first place. The owners are a family of fishermen who go out in the morning and bring back their winnings to the kitchen, run by an all-female team. Guests eat what the family eats. The women cook with ingredients they sourced that day; think salads with large Tropea onions and sweet, juicy tomatoes, deep-fried sardines and fileja, a typical fresh pasta made in-house.

Contact information
7 Via del Monte, Tropea, Vibo Valentia, 89861, Italy

Telephone

+39 0963 603018

10. Locanda Toscano

Don’t be fooled by the name – this restaurant doesn’t serve food from Tuscany. It is actually a family name where chef Caterina cooks authentic Calabrian food with a light and contemporary touch. She is a passionate chef, using local and high quality ingredients from the Calabrian sea, mountains and countryside. And the view from the restaurant into the Calabrian Gulf is wonderful.

Contact information
14/16 Via Benedetto Musolino, Pizzo Calabro, Vibo Valentia, 89812, Italy

Telephone

+39 0963 531089

11. Qafiz

Inside a beautiful sixteenth century villa, this restaurant only has sixteen seats so be sure to book. Nino, the very young head chef, travelled to the corners of Italy before returning to his hometown in Calabria. The result? Food made with a multitude of the best Italian techniques, but he never forgets tradition – the key element within each dish.

Contact information
Località Calabretto, Santa Cristina d'Aspromonte, Reggio Calabria, 89056, Italy

Telephone

+39 0966 878800

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