Even in Liguria, it is no longer east to find a place with genuine local specialties. an exception is found, however, in restaurant La Gioiosa, which was established in 1967 and it sits above Finale Ligure in the province of Savona. With much love for the cuisine of their homeland, Luigia and Flavio Monesiglio serve traditional Ligurian dishes with produce from their own garden and coast.
La Gioiosa was the dream of Luigia, who opened the quaint restaurant with her husband almost half a century years ago. Here on the road to the clifftop plateau of Le Manie, they occupy a paradisiacal spot with a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean, the town of Finale Ligure and the Varigotti headland - an area in which the Ligurian food culture has its roots.
While the years have passed by and Luigia is now an elderly woman, she is still in the kitchen preparing her signature ravioli and the finest fritto misto of the coast with the same unmistakeable passion she had in her youth. The butter-soft squid and fresh anchovies and prawns, which are very lightly fried, come more often than not from the nets of her cousin (one of the last fishermen of Finale Ligure). The focaccia, bread and crostata come straight from Luigia’s oven. Everything is handmade and dining here is an unforgettable pleasure.
Today it is her son, Flavio, who stands by her side. His friendly welcome and assistance in choosing from the delectable menu is well-appreciated by their guests; taking your pick is no simple undertaking as everything here is so good.
Their plentiful antipasti dish consists of a seafood salad with marinated anchovies, local prawn ceviche, stuffed zucchini, a vegetable tart and more for 13€. The first course is an unbeatable fresh trenette pasta with fresh anchovies, rabbit ragù ravioli or tripoline pasta with fresh vegetables from the garden and pesto (prices range from nine to 11€). If you can manage more, the fritto di pesce misto is an absolute must or try the totani a Giulienne aglio olio e peperoncino (squid with garlic, oil and chilli); both are 15€. La Gioiosa has recently been selected as a secret gourmet trip by a Milan-based restaurant guide for having the best squid dishes in Liguria. A homemade cream ice cream with figs from the garden or a shortcrust crostata cake with apricots and figs (each 5€) complete the heavenly meal. The prices of the wines - almost all of which are local in origin - range between 16 and 42€ the bottle. If the bottle isn’t finished, Flavio sends it home with you! The La Gioiosa restaurant is open daily from mid-March to mid-November and also offers guest rooms with a panoramic view of the stunning locale.