Since Rimini is all about the beach, whenever I asked anyone about eating in Rimini, I fully expected to end up at a waterside restaurant as the sun went down. While I did make it to one beachy place, my favorites were further inland.
The neighborhood that I absolutely fell in love with was the Borg. Short for Borgo San Giuliano , the area is just over the canal from the centro storico. What canal you ask? It’s the canal that links the sea, about a kilometer away, to the town proper. At the end of the canal there is a very sheltered harbor that is still used. So the Borg, it turns out, is the little fishing village that grew up around this sheltered inlet.
Reached by a Roman bridge that is one of most magnificent things I’ve ever scene, the small hamlet is made up of brightly colored 2 story buildings. It reminded me a lot of Murano or a toned-down Burano, further up the coast. Evidently Fellini, who was from Rimini, loved this neighborhood. And I can understand why.
The days I was there it was the yearly town festival, and most of the inhabitants had thrown open their ground floor doors and set up tables on the narrow streets to celebrate with friends and family. I was sort of hoping someone would flag me down and take pity on me (which of course would have happened were I in a Fellini film) , but in the end I was very happy to visit these three delicious restaurants over the course of 2 days.
La Marianna was the fish restaurant I’d been hoping to find while in Rimini. No, it wasn’t by the sea, but the incredibly chic and artfully designed ,bright and colorful interiors more than made up for it. The large shaded terrace was full of local families there for Sunday lunch and the interiors still have the charm of the simple rustic place that it has been for about a century. But updated and fresh.
While I was tempted by pasta I decided I needed something more solid after all that gelato. After having looked at everyone’s tables as I walked in, I just followed their lead. My misto di antipasti gratinati was a mix of shell fish – scallops, mussels, clams and razor clams – topped with a sprinkling of seasoned bread crumbs and then run under the broiler. Cooked until just tender they barely needed a squirt of lemon. The basket of warm piadine was the perfect vehicle for scooping up the juices.
My main course was equally rustic and equally fresh: skewers of barely grilled baby squid and shrimp. The breadcrumbs made their appearance again, but this time provided just the right amount of crunch. A bonus? They had about a half dozen very good wines available by the half bottle.
NUD E CRUD
The next day I headed back the Borg for a quick lunch between cones. I knew I couldn’t leave Rimini without at least one piadina. Piadine are the street food that this area of Italy is known for. A type of flat bread that is cooked on a griddle, the tortilla-like rounds are usually filled with prosciutto and a local creamy cheese, squacquerone. While you can certainly get them at every bar in town, I knew that if I was just going to have one, I wanted it to be special.
Nud e Crud is actually owned by the same folks that own La Marianna and have revived that historical trattoria. They’ve done something similar with Nud e Crud, in that they’ve taken a humble food – the piadina – and given it the respect it deserves. While at the same time creating an incredibly adorable space.
They take the words local and sustainable very seriously, and all of their piadine are made with a local flour and cooked to order (other places, like bars, buy them industrially made and then just reheat them). While I could have gone traditional, and stuck to a filling like local prosciutto and squacquerone, I instead decided to venture into the more exotic side of the menu. My piadina was made with squid ink, and so was a deep, dark black. The filling was plump, pink crayfish, lettuce and tomatoes and just a drizzle of home made spicy mayo. Not traditional at all, but completely local and absolutely delicious. With a craft beer to wash it down of course.
OSTERIA DE BORG
Unfortunately my time in Rimini was too short to actually eat at one other restaurant down the street, Osteria de Borg. If La Marianna is all about fish, the Osteria celebrates meat. Again, the same owners have taken over an already established restaurant and brought it up to date while maintaining the traditional menu and feeling. You won’t find any fish here, but what looked like a mouthwatering selection of home made pasta. The day I visited the outside tables were full of families enjoying huge platters of tagliatelle with ragu, one of their specialities. While meaty dishes like grilled lamb chops and steaks are one of the reasons to go, they also have a wood burning pizza oven that gets going in the evenings.
Via Tiberio 19
Nud e Crud
Via Tiberio 27
Open daily, lunch and dinner.
Osteria de Borg
Via Forzieri 12
The annual Festa de Borg takes place every September, and looked like a lot of fun.
I visited Rimini as a guest of Gelato World Tour, who paid for my hotel and travel.