10 Best Dishes in the Mediterranean

by Gayle Keck

10 Best Dishes in the Mediterranean

by Gayle Keck

You'll likely only have time for one on-land meal at any given port while cruising the Mediterranean, and you’ll want to make it count. Every city has its own flavor, incorporating the bounty from the surrounding farmland and the fresh catch coming into port. (Seriously, if you love seafood, you've come to the right place.) Here are our 10 favorite local specialties to seek out on shore, from sandwiches to enjoy while strolling to pasta dishes to sample at local trattorias.

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Lobster in Greece / iStock.com / Andrei Nekrassov
Pan Bagnat
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1. Pan Bagnat 

Port: Nice, France

This round sandwich is called "bathed bread" because it's soaked in oil and vinegar. Inside you'll find tuna, anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, and veggies.

Where to Get It: Bakeries all over town sell the sandwiches to go. Head to a sunny square to sit on a bench and enjoy — just remember to bring lots of napkins.

Port: Nice, France

This round sandwich is called "bathed bread" because it's soaked in oil and vinegar. Inside you'll find tuna, anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, and veggies.

Where to Get It: Bakeries all over town sell the sandwiches to go. Head to a sunny square to sit on a bench and enjoy — just remember to bring lots of napkins.

Greek salad
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2. Greek Salad

Port: Santorini, Greece

The flavors here — from the tomato wedges, cucumbers, onions, feta cheese, and kalamata olives all sprinkled with oregano and olive oil — are so much more pronounced than you will find at the local diner back home.

Where to Get It: Enjoy this classic fresh dish at a beachside cafe, with your toes in the sand.

Port: Santorini, Greece

The flavors here — from the tomato wedges, cucumbers, onions, feta cheese, and kalamata olives all sprinkled with oregano and olive oil — are so much more pronounced than you will find at the local diner back home.

Where to Get It: Enjoy this classic fresh dish at a beachside cafe, with your toes in the sand.

Scampi buzara
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3. Scampi Buzara

Port: Split, Croatia

Shell-on langoustines (like a shrimp-lobster lovechild) are cooked in olive oil, garlic, wine, tomatoes, and breadcrumbs. Messy, but fabulous.

Where to Get It: F-Marine, at the marina.

Port: Split, Croatia

Shell-on langoustines (like a shrimp-lobster lovechild) are cooked in olive oil, garlic, wine, tomatoes, and breadcrumbs. Messy, but fabulous.

Where to Get It: F-Marine, at the marina.

Risotto nero
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4. Risotto Nero

Port: Venice, Italy

This dramatic black rice dish is colored with cuttlefish (similar to squid) ink, and studded with seafood.

Where to Get It: Osteria al Portego, which also has great “cichetti” (bar snacks).

Port: Venice, Italy

This dramatic black rice dish is colored with cuttlefish (similar to squid) ink, and studded with seafood.

Where to Get It: Osteria al Portego, which also has great “cichetti” (bar snacks).

Pesto alla Genovese
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5. Pesto alla Genovese

Port: Genoa, Italy

You haven't tasted pesto until you've tried the Ligurian verson, made with a local variety of sweet basil so integral that it has to be certified by Italy's Denominazione d'Origine Protetta (DOC).

Where to Get It: Il Genovese or Il Mangiabuono; both are bare-bones local trattorias.

Port: Genoa, Italy

You haven't tasted pesto until you've tried the Ligurian verson, made with a local variety of sweet basil so integral that it has to be certified by Italy's Denominazione d'Origine Protetta (DOC).

Where to Get It: Il Genovese or Il Mangiabuono; both are bare-bones local trattorias.

Bouillabaisse
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6. Bouillabaisse

Port: Marseilles, France

This soup of seafood, garlic, onions, tomatoes, olive oil, saffron, fennel seeds, and orange zest is served with “rouille” a spicy mayonnaise, spread on rounds of toasted bread.

Where to Get It: Grand Bar des Goudes, at the end of the Corniche (it must be ordered in advance).

Port: Marseilles, France

This soup of seafood, garlic, onions, tomatoes, olive oil, saffron, fennel seeds, and orange zest is served with “rouille” a spicy mayonnaise, spread on rounds of toasted bread.

Where to Get It: Grand Bar des Goudes, at the end of the Corniche (it must be ordered in advance).

Pasta con le sarde
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7. Pasta con le Sarde

Port: Palermo, Sicily

With sardines, fennel, pine nuts, raisins, and spaghetti or bucatini, this dish is deliciously different from mainland pasta.

Where to Get It: Trattoria Familiare da Michele e Jolanda or Trattoria ai Cascinari.

Port: Palermo, Sicily

With sardines, fennel, pine nuts, raisins, and spaghetti or bucatini, this dish is deliciously different from mainland pasta.

Where to Get It: Trattoria Familiare da Michele e Jolanda or Trattoria ai Cascinari.

Zarzuela
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8. Zarzuela

Port: Barcelona, Spain

This rich seafood stew is crammed with the local catch, including shellfish, mussels, squid, and filets, then thickened with “picada,” a sauce made with ground nuts, garlic, and bread.

Where to Get It: A Catalan restaurant like Can Solé.

Port: Barcelona, Spain

This rich seafood stew is crammed with the local catch, including shellfish, mussels, squid, and filets, then thickened with “picada,” a sauce made with ground nuts, garlic, and bread.

Where to Get It: A Catalan restaurant like Can Solé.

Caldo verde
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9. Caldo Verde

Port: Lisbon, Portugal

Cure last night's hangover with this "green soup" of shredded kale, potatoes, and sausage in a hearty broth.

Where to Get It: Almost every restaurant in the capital city serves this soup.

Port: Lisbon, Portugal

Cure last night's hangover with this "green soup" of shredded kale, potatoes, and sausage in a hearty broth.

Where to Get It: Almost every restaurant in the capital city serves this soup.

Meze plate
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10. Meze

Port: Istanbul, Turkey

Technically these little dishes are appetizers, but point to a bunch when the waiter offers a tray and you've got a meal. Try grilled-eggplant dip, filo packets filled with cheese, stuffed grape leaves, and marinated fish.

Where to Get It: Karaköy Lokantasi, near the docks in Istanbul, or a “meyhane” (pub) in the Beyoglu district.

Port: Istanbul, Turkey

Technically these little dishes are appetizers, but point to a bunch when the waiter offers a tray and you've got a meal. Try grilled-eggplant dip, filo packets filled with cheese, stuffed grape leaves, and marinated fish.

Where to Get It: Karaköy Lokantasi, near the docks in Istanbul, or a “meyhane” (pub) in the Beyoglu district.

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