This Food Many Americans Hate Becomes A Must-Try In Italy's Cinque Terre, Per Rick Steves

Italy's beautiful Cinque Terre is known for its vibrant buildings and stunning coastal views, but according to Rick Steves, it's also a must-visit destination for its food. We know what you're thinking: pizza, pasta, risotto, and all the other Italian classics. Sure, you'll find these beloved dishes when visiting the gorgeous villages of Cinque Terre, but the European travel expert says that anchovies are the region's true culinary star.

Steves wrote on his website that the little fish, known as "acciughe" in Italian, are a must-try standout in the local food scene. Even if you're not into seafood or had a bad experience with anchovies in the past, the travel writer insists they're worth tasting in the Cinque Terre. Given the area's proximity to the sea, the fish are caught fresh and prepared to perfection. In particular, you'll find that most of the region's anchovies originate in the town of Monterosso before they're served up on restaurant menus everywhere. You might even find Cinque Terre acciughe during a trip to Rome and other major Italian destinations.

Why anchovies taste better in the Cinque Terre

There's a reason devouring the seafood in the Cinque Terre is a frequent bucket list idea for American travelers abroad. According to Rick Steves, the area's anchovies can be served in a variety of ways to cater to just about any palate. You can order them marinated, fried, salted, or almost any other way you can imagine. Sometimes, the fish is the center of the dish, while other times, the anchovies are layered with vegetables, sauces, and other delectable local ingredients.

Even before they make it to your plate, Cinque Terre's anchovies are likely superior to the ones you've had before. The waters of Monterosso have a specific salinity that, when paired with the region's warm weather, results in fish that are firmer and more flavorful than your average anchovy. Just a little lemon and olive oil may be all you need to dress up this mouth-watering local specialty.

Where to eat anchovies in the Cinque Terre

When dining out in the Cinque Terre, almost any osteria, enoteca, or trattoria will have a dish containing the region's prized anchovies. Still, try to make a stop in Monterosso to sample the freshest varieties. Head to Ristorante Al Carugio to taste simple anchovy dishes with salt or lemon. For a more intense flavor, try the breaded and deep-fried anchovies at Trattoria Da Oscar. Looking for an elegant dinner centered on the famous fish? Book a table at Miky, where you can order a scrumptious anchovy sampling plate and other anchovy-packed dishes.

If you happen to visit the Cinque Terre during one of its many anchovy festivals, you'll also find plenty of opportunities to munch on the ingredient alongside other anchovy lovers (or reformed anchovy haters). The first festival, focused on fried anchovies, takes place in Monterosso on the third Saturday of every June. The second event, also held in Monterosso, occurs on the third Saturday of September each year and celebrates the town's salted anchovies.