Italy 2016 – day 10 – San Michele di Pagana, Santa Margherita & LUNCH!

Sep 28, 2016 by

The first time we walked from Santa Margherita to Portofino, we noticed a restaurant about halfway to Portofino that was sitting right on the water on what seemed to be a rocky platform.  We noted the name, Capo Nord, and Googled it when we returned to the apartment.  The Trip Advisor reviews raved about its location and the experience of dining there….we decided we had to give it a try.

Capo Nord

On our second walk to Portofino, Carol and I stopped to make a reservation.  They were in the middle of lunch service, but the owner, Irene, told us that Sunday (3 days ago) was their last day, that they were only serving lunch and it would be like a party.  “Sign us up!” we said.

Lovely Irene, who owns Capo Nord with her husband, Augusto.

So Sunday, another gorgeous Italian Riviera day, we walked to Santa Margherita and got the VERY crowded bus to Portofino.  I asked the driver to stop at Capo Nord.  He did and we walked down the steep steps to the restaurant.  There are two levels….the lower (right on the water and the preferred one) was full, but Irene had saved a table for us on the upper level which was right by the stairs.  Nice view, but we sort of felt like we were in the American ghetto.  Still the view was beautiful, our waiter in fine spirits and the unlimited food and wine, divine.  The deal was 30 Euros each, wine included.  Because it was the final day of the season, the goal was to clean out the larder.  We started with antipasti….olive focaccia, thinly sliced fennel and octopus salad, and roasted sliced carrots.  Then a fabulous octopus carpaccio.  This was something I’d not had or even heard of before and, for me, it was the highlight of the meal….just wonderful!  Next gnocchi with pesto…at last something for Carol!  All the courses were nicely spaced, with the final secondi of grilled scampi.  When Irene noticed that Carol was not eating the scampi, she offered to prepare a steak for her.  Carol (ever not wanting to cause a fuss) reluctantly accepted the offer.

Carol and Thad in the American ghetto….

Lower level….

More lower level….

Sushi

Gnocchi with pesto sauce….

Carol’s favorite….grilled scampi!

When we sat down, Irene had said she would move us to the lower level when a table opened up.  We noticed that several parties had left and asked if we might move.  Though she had offered to move us, our move seemed to create a bit of a stir and we sort of felt like the ugly Americans, but it truly was nicer on the lower level and we wanted the total experience of Capo Nord.  By this time, the sun was no longer with us, but it was lovely to be where the action was.  As far as we could tell, we were the only non-Italians and there were 2 tables of large parties next to us (total number of tables, maybe 16?), one of which was quite merry and appeared to be friends of the waiters.  Carol got her steak…a perfect filet.

Carol’s steak….

Lively table of waiters’ friends

Cane at the next table….no steak for him!

The next course was formaggio….and finally dessert and espresso.  The desserts were unbelievable….one of the best cheesecakes we’ve ever tasted.  We learned that Irene makes it every day….Carol plans to contact her to see if she’ll divulge her recipe.  And a chocolate pudding-like dessert that, when I learned the owners spend 2 months of the year in Brazil, I think was “brigadeiro….”  This knowledge I owe to my lovely Brazilian friend, Pri.   As Carol would say, “it was to die for!”

Dessert….

The kitchen…final service of the season over at last!!

Around 4:30, satiated and drunk on the spectacular views, we decided it was time to depart.  Chatted with Irene and her husband, Augusto, as we were paying the bill.  Learned that the restaurant has been there for 10 years.  The season is March or April through September.  Off-season, they spend time in Kenya, Brazil, Uruguay and New York…envy!

Thus fortified, we decided to walk back to Rapallo.  The festival Archangelo was winding down in San Michele.  The street was teeming, raffle winners were being announced and rowing teams were pulling their boats out of the water.

Traffic jam on road from Santa Margherita to Rapallo….caused by bus backing up into hotel entrance….

Too full for dinner, we spent the evening blogging (me), washing clothes (Carol) and  reading (Thad).  Tomorrow we travel to Montecatini for spa treatments, spend the night there and then Tuesday on to Firenze!

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