Notable Calabrian Restaurants

The regional kitchens of Italy are brilliantly diverse, and the Calabrian table is finally being appreciated for its unique produce and recipes. Foods typical of Calabria include bergamot, a citrus fruit grown in orchards around Reggio Calabria; sweet red onions from Tropea; caciocavallo, a tangy, salty cow’s milk cheese; hot red peppers; seafood, including swordfish, tuna, octopus and rock lobster brought in from the waters of the Tyrrhenian and Ionian seas; and ’nduja, a pepper-spiked pork spread. (’Nduja is now available in the United States, and La Quercia charcuterie company in Norwalk, Iowa, makes a domestic version, which is sold on Amazon and in specialty stores; it’s excellent on pasta and in scrambled eggs.)

Recently, Calabria has seen a restaurant renaissance, with talented native-born chefs opening eateries that reinvent traditional foods and recipes for the 21st century.

Among the many Calabrian dishes to sample during a trip here are these standouts: lagane e cicciari (wide noodles with chickpeas sautéed in olive oil and garlic), maccaruni e casa (a pasta made of durum wheat semolina prepared by wrapping a sheet of pasta around a thin cane to create a hollow tube), stoccafisso (dried salt cod prepared in a variety of ways, including with parsley, wedges of potato and tomato purée) and licurdia (a rich vegetable soup based on Tropea onions).

Recently, Calabria has seen a restaurant renaissance, with talented native-born chefs opening eateries that reinvent traditional foods and recipes for the 21st century.

Dattilo

Located on a working farm that produces organic olive oil and other produce, this outstanding restaurant is a family affair, with Caterina Ceraudo in the kitchen and her sister, Susy, running the dining room. The menus evolve with the seasons, but dishes to look for include tomatoes with apples and lemon, and ricotta-stuffed ravioli in a smoked-milk sauce with truffles.

Dattilo
Contrada Dattilo, Strongoli. Tel. (39) 096-286-5613

Il Normanno

This friendly trattoria specializes in cucina povera, or traditional dishes that show off the ingenuity of Calabrian cooks. Start with the delicious mixed antipasti and then try a pasta with salsa Normanna, which is made with tomatoes, peppers and porcini mushrooms, followed by grilled lamb chops.

Il Normanno
Via Duomo 12, Mileto. Tel. (39) 096-333-6398

Osteria del Centro

Perched high above the fishing port, this cozy restaurant specializes in swordfish, octopus, sardines and sea urchins. Appealing pastas include linguine with zucchini flowers, toasted almonds and mint.

Via Bastia 7, Scilla. Tel. (39) 392-644-0208

Al Pinturicchio

Service can be slow, but this is the best table in the old town of Tropea. Sample local dishes like fileja alla ’nduja and swordfish roasted with lemon and capers.

Via Dardano 2, Tropea, Tel. (39) 096-360-3452

Ristorante Abbruzzino

A father-and-son team, Antonio and Luca Abbruzzino have made this elegant Michelin one-star restaurant one of the best in Italy. Service is exceptionally cordial and professional, and the menu is profoundly Calabrian but intriguingly original, including dishes like spaghetti with black sesame sauce, and sliced steak with sea anemones and salsa verde.

Ristorante Abbruzzino
Via Fiume Savuto, Catanzaro. Tel. (39) 096-179-9008

Ristorante Da Ercole

Shrimp tartare from Ristorante Da Ercole in Crotone
Shrimp tartare from Ristorante Da Ercole in Crotone - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

Nestled in a villa on the waterfront in Crotone, this refined seafood restaurant is an ideal place for lunch. Recommended dishes include the octopus carpaccio, shrimp tartare, spaghetti with sea urchins, and grilled swordfish. There is a pleasant garden terrace.

Ristorante Da Ercole
Viale Antonio Gramsci 122, Crotone. Tel. (39) 096-290-1425

Ruris

Chef Natale Pallone serves sophisticated contemporary Calabrian dishes at this refined table with an excellent wine list. Signature dishes include tuna tartare with crushed hazelnuts and fern fronds, risotto with shrimp tartare, honey-glazed lamb chops, and squid in a sauce of its own ink seasoned with bergamot.

Ruris
Località Mazzotta, Isola di Capo Rizzuto. Tel. (39) 096-279-1460


Read more about our editor’s trip to Calabria

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