October 15, 2015
Just two days left in Italy. What to do? I know Jonas loves fresh seafood so I suggested we head to Livorno. We hadn’t seen the sea yet and I figured it would be easy enough to find. We got to the coast without a hitch but once we were in Livorno proper, we were treated to a maze of one-way streets separated by canals and connected by bridges. We were looking for seafood restaurants in this area dubbed Little Venice, but after a while we gave up. The streets ended abruptly, several were unmarked and they were so narrow, we were sure our little Fiat was going to scrape against another car or a wall.
I had read about a place called Osteria del Mare closer to the waterfront. We used all of our available maps, headed for the sea and quickly lost track of where we were. Street signs would be nice. Just saying. Jonas made a left turn into a parking lot and said he’d try to turn around. I saw a small one-way street diagonal to the lot. I said, “I think we should go that way.” We drove down the street and suddenly on our right, we saw a blue sign with the words Osteria del Mare. There was one coveted parking spot available right in front of the restaurant.
We used our broken Italian to figure out the arrangements for lunch with the staff. They normally served until 2:30. It was 2:25 but they must have sensed the journey we’d had and agreed to feed us. Apparently the water was already turned off so no pasta dishes were available. We got grilled squid as an appetizer and two orders of the catch of the day, one sautéed in white wine and the other in cream sauce with pink peppercorns. The waiter brought the fresh fish out beforehand to show us and Rocky got so excited. He kept pointing and saying, “Fish!”
Lunch was incredible. We met an elderly Italian couple who were dining with their 7-year-old grandson. The little boy asked me questions in English and Italian about Rhône and Rock. Was Rock “fe-mal-uh?” I smiled and said, “No. Bambino.” How old was Rhône? “Cinque.” It was a sweet exchange. We also met a couple from Idaho who spend about 5 weeks a year in Tuscany. They have been coming to this restaurant for years and said they’ve never seen or heard any other English-speaking people in the restaurant. This felt like a special place and the cuisine confirmed it. Both the fish – deboned tableside – and the squid were delectable and paired perfectly with a quartino of local white wine. Rocky ate a little of everything while Rhône stuck to the piping hot French fries.
Feeling nourished, we headed to a waterfront terrazza and park about 2 km down the road. We played football on the checkerboard boardwalk and marveled at the aquamarine waves crashing just feet away from us. We played for hours in the afternoon sun. The day ended with multiple carousel rides (the owner kept giving the boys free tickets) and lollipops. Livorno, you are so lovely!
Osteria del Mare is located at Borgo dei Cappuccini, 5, 57126, Livorno, Italy. They are open for lunch from 12:30-2:30 and dinner is served from 7:30-10:30 p.m.