Chef: Roberto Villa started his career working in the kitchens of the most prestigious cruise ships in the Mediterranean. Following National Service, he worked his way to Chef at the Hotel Bristol, Rapallo, for six years. He has headed the kitchen of the Chuflay Bar & Restaurant at Splendido Mare since 2001.
Visit: 25 June 2019, lunch for two.
Hotel: In 1997 Belmond purchased a hostel in Portofino, on the beautiful Italian Ligurian coast, bordering the lively Piazzetta overlooking its small harbour. Following a total refurbishment, this became the elegant Splendido Mare Hotel, with the fabulous Chuflay Bar. It is also home to the glamorous Ava Gardener Suite stretching across the entire top floor of the building. This suite has a 52 square metre terrace!!
“Chuflay” is the name of a traditional Bolivian mixed drink. The drink is made on the rocks in a tall glass with a jigger of singani (an eau-de-vie made from white Muscat of Alexandria grapes) and filled with either ginger ale, 7-Up, or Sprite and often garnished with a slice of lime.
The hotel is situated in Portofino adjacent to other hotels, restaurants and bars. You also have access to the facilities at the Splendido Hotel, including the swimming pool, so this is a great option if you want the buzz of a small Italian town, superior hotel accommodation, fabulous food and the night life around the harbour.
Portofino, with Splendido top right and Splendido Mare bottom left bordering the Piazzetta:
The restaurant from the Piazzetta:
The restaurant has tables out and inside:
The view from our table overlooking the Piazzetta:
Review: We visited for lunch on a very hot day in June. Aperol Spritz helped to cool us down. The food is superb. It’s the freshest of meat or fish, grilled or baked, and served with a simple sauce with the best homemade pasta. Its all perfectly cooked. And they have great Italian desserts. This is the Italian restaurant of my dreams!
There is a good wine list, and we enjoyed a bottle of chilled Gavi di Gavi. We finished with grappa and iced coffees.
There are two menus, one for lunch, with a focus on first courses, and one for dinner, which is more refined and includes some of the chef’s most popular dishes: raw fish and fish soup.
The service was very friendly and professional, presided over by Luca Cerretti, Maître of the Chuflay Restaurant. We also had the pleasure of meeting Santo Aiosa, the Restaurant Manager. Our waitress introduced us to her fabulous iced coffees, with her secret sauce – a shot of Baileys.
For me, this is the best of traditional Italian cooking. It’s the best local produce, cooked perfectly. The service is impeccable. The restaurant is situated in a picturesque harbour location. What more can you ask for?
I will be returning the next time I stay at the Splendido!!