I ate much better in Reggio in 2019 than I did back in 2010 (reviews here). Partly it was the street food (see previous post) but I also nosed out some decent restaurants tucked away in various corners of the city. I list them below in order of preference. You’ll find everywhere mentioned on my Google map. Again, sorry for the lack of good photos.
Le Vie del Gusto (Low Intermediate B+), 55/57 Via II Settembre, www.facebook.com
This is the good value, everyday place that I recommend to my colleagues. It’s certainly popular with the locals. When I went, the entire place was full of police cadets presumably celebrating their graduation.
The food isn’t exactly haute cuisine but it’s still pretty good; rustic and plentiful with some fun twists. The antipasti was huge and would have been enough for one person just on its own. The gnocchi fritta and the tiny black olives were highlights, as was the Nduja served in a terracotta dish heated by a candle (a new serving method to me).
I was way too full after the antipasti to even consider a first or second course but my table next to the kitchen doors allowed me to see what was coming out at least. The Scialatiella pasta with walnuts and porcini, served in a hollowed out pecorino cheese, looks amazing. The sheer quantities involved kind of underscored that this restaurant is ideally experienced as part of a group.
Dessert was a slice of disappointingly dry fruit tart (too often the case in Italy), improved by a shot of delicious finochetto (a fennel distallate). However, the chef’s excellent homemade amaro was what sent me back to my hotel with a smile on my face.
I don’t recall how much I paid but it was very reasonable. I’ll definitely go back next time I’m in town, but preferrably with someone who can help me make it past the starters at least.
Baylik (High Intermediate B+), 1 Vico Leone, www.baylik.it, closed Thursday
I lost all my photos from this meal but I can tell you that Baylik is the best place I’ve ever eaten in Reggio and for me totally worth the hike to the port district, although be aware the walk there takes you through some of the less well-lit parts of town. The food is excellent (they specialise in seafood) and the service friendly. Tourists are rare so even the chef (owner?) came out to chat with me, and tell me that I was twiddling my pasta on my fork in the wrong direction. This was a new rule for me (Italians have too many to keep up with), although he did concede it ‘didn’t really matter’.
L’A Gourmet L’Accademia (High Intermediate B), 9 Via Largo Cristoforo Colombo, www.laccademia.it
A classic restaurant located on the first floor of an old palazzo, with wonderful views over the Strait of Messina (reserve a window table). On the way to the loo I had a sneaky peep at their top floor terrace which would be the ideal spot for a celebration (even better views). It’s not cheap, and the service is slightly snooty, but the food is top notch.
Particularly memorable was this beautifully presented trio of Scampo Mediterraneo alle Erbe Aromatiche e Sale Rosa, Code di Gambero Rosso di Mazara al Mojito and Ostrica La Divina (Mediterranean scampi with aromatic herbs and pink salt, red prawn tails from south-west Sicily served in a mojito and a French oyster). Quite sublime (A+) and something I hope to have occasion to recreate one day.
Definitely a good spot for a treat, and very centrally located. You could skip dessert and go for gelato at Gelateria Cesare which is just opposite.
Officina del Gusto (Intermediate B), 17/19 Via Placido Geraci, www.officinadelgusto.net
A bit of a walk from the hotel district this one but worth it. It’s a small, quite posh place so it’s probably best to reserve, especially if you want one of the few tables on the narrow outside terrace.
I arrived on spec and they were closed for a private celebration inside, but as I was a single diner who didn’t mind waiting for his food, they gave me a table to myself on the terrace. I think I had these Panciotti; circular ravioli stuffed with aubergine and scamorza cheese, in a sauce of Pachino cherry tomatoes and smoked ricotta. I’ve lost the other photos sorry but I remember it was all very nice.
Definitely a good spot for a romantic evening, this next place less so…
La Cantina della Suocera (Intermediate C), 10 Via Pritanei
The food is good (B/B+) at ‘The Cellar of the Mother-in-law’, but I wasn’t impressed by the staff I encountered there (D), neither the guy taking my money nor the waiters. I could go on but here’s a photo of one of their nice antipasti plates instead. Go by all means, maybe they’ll be nicer to you.
Walking around Reggio next!