El Castello’s is the perfect place to go if you are looking for a romantic dinner hideaway. It’s the ideal spot to enjoy a tasty meal and soak up the picturesque shores of the Cinque Terre. Situated atop a cliff overlooking the ocean, you definitely will not be disappointed!
Part of what makes this restaurant special is it’s seclusion. In order to find it’s entrance, you have to navigate the labyrinth of endless stairs and passageways through Vernazza up the cliffside.
Once inside, you are treated with spectacular views of both the inland harbor and the Ligurian Sea. In the seating area, this restaurant has no walls. Just a mere railing and curtains flowing from poles separates you from the sea. Derek and I opted for a corner table where we were spoiled with both views. As we settled into our seats, we were immediately greeted with bread, water, and ( at our request ) wine.
If you haven’t been to Italy before, there are a few things you should know about meals. Dinner generally isn’t served until after 7pm. We walked in the door shortly after this time, so we had the restaurant completely to ourselves. It also isn’t uncommon for meals to last up to three hours in length. It’s more than just a meal to the Italians… it’s a whole evening!
I selected Tegame alla Vernazzana ( at the recommendation of my BFF Rick Steves ) as it includes what Vernazza is best known for: anchovies. I know what you’re thinking… anchovies? Really? But let me be clear: You haven’t truly tasted anchovies until you’ve had them fresh. They aren’t the salty, processed mess that they are in America. This dish is full of layered pasta, anchovies, potatoes, tomatoes, and herbs. Derek opted for a delicious-looking shrimp dish.
As the sun set and our plates became empty, we finished the last of our wine and stood up to leave. We stood by the door to pay the bill and were offered complimentary limoncello and biscuits. Both were delicious!
Needless to say, this was one of the most romantic and memorable meals from our travels. If and when we return, we will definitely be paying another visit.