Portofino was originally a fishing village in the province of Genoa. The town’s natural harbour supported a fleet of fishing boats, in the past. In late 19th century, British and Northern European aristocrats , started to visit Portofino and elected it as a fashionable location. In the 50s, the once fishing village became an eliterian tourist attraction and still is today. The little harbour features now just few fishing boats and more mega yachts, unfortunately. The ‘piazzetta’ facing the harbour is crowded with bars and restaurants, but the atmosphere is still pleasant and magic, especially if you walk in the tiny little ‘caruggi’ behind the ‘piazzetta’ or up to the castle.
Me and Luca know Portofino and the nearby coast very well, as Luca’s family comes from another tiny village few kilometers far from Portofino. We are quite familiar with the traditional food and dishes from Genoa and the surroundings, but there is a small place hidden in one of the ‘caruggi’ where we go every year to taste the best pesto and scampi ever. Da U Batti, this is the name of the restaurant and though it is nice to visit Portofino during the warm season, my advice is to book a table in spring or autumn . And the reason is that the food is much more delicious and you may enjoy it quietly, avoiding the crowd.
The restaurant offers only few specialties. We usually choose ‘trenette al pesto‘, a typical long pasta from the area with a sauce made of crushed basil-garlic-olive oil-parmesan cheese-pine nuts and served with boiled potatoes and green beans, followed by ‘scampi alla U Batti‘ , a secret recipe for langoustines, that you must eat with the hands, wearing a bib especially offered by the restaurant. Once you’ve finished you will be offered two chilled bottles of home-made liquors, one is pink and is a raspberry digestive, the other one is yellow, like the lemons used to make it.
The only way to understand why this Scampi taste so gorgeous and memorable, is to try them chez U Batti. I've cooked them myself at home. No way; I cannot replicate the recipe, though I did with several different ingredients.