I only got to know the Romagna Riviera at a late stage, as a child my parents used to take us to the seaside in Liguria and the Adriatic motorway was a long way from our usual beaten track.
I started visiting Cervia for reasons not related to the typical seaside holiday but to sport, my other passion besides cuisine and travel. Our friends, who had a CrossFit box in Milan, opened another one in Cervia and… this is how a new love began.
Needless to say, good food helped play the role of Cupid between me and this town in Romagna! The first arrow was released with a piadina, the classic one with prosciutto crudo and squacquerone cheese that makes your hands dirty but also offers moments of pure satisfaction.
It is pointless to take sides on the controversy as to which piadina is the best, whether the lower one from Riccione or the higher one from Cervia. Or whether the traditional one with lard or the lighter piadina with extra virgin olive oil is better. So, while this typically Italian discussion goes on and on, I just go and look for a nice little kiosk – the classic ones painted in stripes – and eat one without bothering about the origin.
My love affair with this rich land of Romagna has continued over the years through selecting the best places in which to try typical recipes.
Where I like to eat, in Cervia
If I feel like savouring the decisive and sincere flavours of the sea, I have no choice but to go to the Osteria del gran fritto, where sardoncelli, poverazze, skewers and, of course, the fried fish of the day are waiting for me. Also beautiful is the phrase written on the placemat of this Osteria: “we do all we can to serve you tasty and crispy fried food. We recommend that you do not add lemon, it is better”. How can I disagree?!
One of my favourite places to eat fish is the Ristorante Sale Grosso, with the name dedicated to the beautiful Cervia salt mines. A restaurant that seems like a bomboniera, a real gem, where everything is taken care of by the owner down to the smallest detail and where fish is the undisputed king. Whether raw or cooked, everything seems to have leapt straight from the sea onto the plate… marvellous!
Another place that appeals to me is Agriturismo Camì, in Lido di Savio, where the talented Vincenzo and Milena serve impeccably cooked dishes and so many ingredients are produced by them: an immersion in authenticity and good food.
Instead, if I feel like eating meat, the only place for me to go to is Le Ghiaine: here choosing between ribs, T-bone steaks and steaks, just as it is difficult to give up on the cappelletti with ragout. And more as the menu is as mouth-watering as you can imagine.
Never start a diet in Romagna!