Corsica, the beautiful French island region, is nestled in the Mediterranean between France and Italy. Whether opting for a beachfront restaurant or a brasserie in a hilltop village, Corsica has many restaurants to tempt visitors. Here are 10 of the best.
Established in 2000, Octopussy is a beachfront restaurant open from mid-April to late September and is ideally located in the bay of the town of Calvi on Corsica’s north-western coast. Offering guests beautiful panoramic views of Calvi’s port, Octopussy features a sea-facing terraced dining area that also overlooks the town’s citadel – the fortress wall that surrounds Calvi. The menu is directed by chef Arouna Dia who creates simple and modern European dishes with noticeable local influences. Menu highlights include the grilled organic salmon steak cooked a la plancha, or grilled on a metal plate, veal Milanese and a number of hearty pasta and risotto dishes. These are perfect washed down with a glass of local wine. Desserts are distinctly Corsican such as the reimagined Italian classic tiramisu made with canistrelli biscuits, an island delicacy, and the Corsican cheese plate.
Auberge de la Restonica is a charming, cottage-style restaurant located just outside of the picturesque and remote hilltop village Corte. Situated in the central region of Corsica and its rocky terrain, the restaurant’s home is on the banks of the Restonica river. This location, and the dramatic gorges carved into the landscape surrounding it makes it the perfect spot for walkers and hikers looking to refuel with some hearty and authentic Corsican cuisine. The rustic property features a large indoor dining room and a delightful outdoor riverside terrace where diners can enjoy tasty fare. Dishes include the signature dish Filet Restonica – a tenderloin cut of beef served with sweet Corsican cheese flambéed in brandy – and the guest favorite, boar stew with pasta. Finish with the traditional Corsican dessert fiadone, a local cheesecake-style dish made with brioccu, a cheese made from sheep or goat’s milk.
Chef Gérard Lorenzoni oversees the menu at L’Arbousier, the resident restaurant of Hotel Le Maquis nestled in the bay of Ajaccio. This spot overlooks pristine blue waters and the Sanguinaires Islands in the distance. With an emphasis on traditional Mediterranean and, in particular, Corsican cuisine, Lorenzoni updates classics with seasonal ingredients and modern touches with fish dishes and local recipes abounding. Starters include warm lobster and mesclun salad with dried tomatoes and artichokes and Mediterranean fish soup with a spicy rouille sauce. For a meatier dish, try a main of sauteed pigeon with a Corsican citrus glaze and sweet carrots or a chop of wild suckling pig and mashed potato. In winter months, dine in a refined hall under rustic, hundred-year-old beams or outside in summer on L’Arbousier’s poolside terrace while taking in a Corsican sunset.
Le Piano chez Toinou is a charming, typically Mediterranean restaurant located just a 10-minute walk from the beach in the small yet bustling town of Porticcio. This town is renowned for its unspoilt white sandy beaches, stunning ocean views and warm Mediterranean climes. The restaurant features tiled floors and stone walls in its interior dining area, a covered terrace area perfect for a relaxed evening and an inviting ambience. Le Piano chez Toinou’s menu features modern Mediterranean and contemporary Corsican dishes inspired by produce from both the land and sea. There are options such as the veal casserole with chestnuts or the crispy St Pierre sea urchin with ratatouille. Three-course set menus dedicated specifically to Corsican fare and seafood dishes are also available.
Located slightly off the beaten tourist track on the plage d’arone, known for its pristine white sands and glittering turquoise seas, in the western commune of Piana is the Café de la Plage – a beautiful beachfront restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere and upscale cuisine. A favorite among fans of sun, sea and fine food, Café de la Plage offers guests a menu full of Mediterranean fare with local Corsican flavors. It also has rustic driftwood-style decking and furniture that perfectly complements the restaurant’s beach community setting. Try one of Café de la Plage’s speciality dishes like the salmon tartare served with a celery remoulade and yellow pepper carpaccio or the tempting breaded lamb fillet with a creamy risotto, aged parmesan and basil.
Grand Hôtel de Cala Rossa & Spa NUCCA, Corsica | Courtesy of Le Grand Hotel de Cala
For gourmet French cuisine in an idyllic setting, look no further than the restaurant at Le Grand Hôtel de Cala Rossa. This is a small family-run waterfront property with its own private beach, jetty and kitchen garden where restaurant ingredients including vegetables and herbs are grown. The Porto-Vecchio restaurant features an elegant indoor space and outdoor dining on a pine shadowed terrace with stunning views over the bay. Chef Pascal Cayeux bases his French and Corsican dishes around fresh and seasonal produce. Try the Corsican lobster, caught in the Cap Corse region, steam-cooked with herbs and served in a tomato and basil sauce or the pigeon marinated in spices served on a bed of bulgur wheat with apricots and almonds.
Le Nicoli is a stylish restaurant situated in the heart of the mountain village of Corte, with picturesque views from a sunny terrace overlooking a public square. The restaurant, which in 2011 was awarded two toques by one of France’s most influential restaurant guides Gault et Millau, serves French brasserie-style fare that is both contemporary and a homage to traditional classics. Le Nicoli’s takes advantage of its location, sourcing seasonal produce from across Corsica including local seafood, game and meat. This results in dishes like the salmon tartare with sesame oil and a citrus ginger vinaigrette and the Corsica risotto made with local prisuttu ham, hazelnuts and courgette. The restaurant decor is similarly a mix of old and new with high whit ceiling and stone arches contrasted with modern furnishings and vibrant artworks on the walls.
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L’Auberge du Pêcheur, which translates as ‘fisherman’s inn’, is a treasure tucked away behind a fishmonger’s in the beautiful old fishing port town of Saint-Florent, which overlooks a gulf of the same name. The seafood restaurant is owned by Damien Muller, an artisan fisherman and fishmonger who also owns the restaurant’s adjoining Saint Christophe Poissonnerie. It features a simple menu built around seasonal Corsican fish and other local produce which includes oysters caught from the Diana and Urbinu lagoons on Corsica’s east coast and wines from the vineyards of the neighboring Patrimonio region. All seafood is caught sustainably with respect for local resources and popular dishes include the fish soup, octopus and tune rillettes salad and the red tuna tartare with avocado.
In need of a change from the hearty Mediterranean and local cuisine that abounds on the island of Corsica? Head over to the waterfront Port de Toga neighbourhood in the stunning town of Bastia on Corsica’s north eastern coast where you will find Le Tantra, a stylish and modern restaurant serving Asian cuisine that comes with its own sushi bar. The restaurant interior reflects the eastern menu with sleek dark woods, Buddha statues and artworks and plush upholstered seating illuminated by cool blue spotlights. This is the perfect surroundings in which to enjoy Asian fare including classics like shrimp tempura, chicken teriyaki and gyoza alongside a range of Le Tantra’s sushi which includes maki, sashimi, nigiri and California rolls.
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A Casa di Anghjulu is a beautiful, traditional restaurant located in the picturesque village of Poggio d’Oletta, which is nestled in the hilltops overlooking the Gulf of Saint-Florent. The restaurant resides in the Clementi maison, a charming family farmhouse that was built in 1836 and has rooms which still feature original frescoes from almost 200 years ago. Chef Gérard Magnan, who has worked at top restaurants in France and Japan, bases his menu around authentic yet refined cuisine with a distinct Corsican palate and use of seasonal and, where possible, local produce with dishes like duck foie gras with the chef’s signature gingerbread and onion jam, or the fried monkfish medallions on a bed of leeks. The property is also home to the restaurant’s walled vineyard, the Clos Clementi, whose cellar is located underneath the farmhouse.