Marinese cuisine is heavily influenced by the cuisine of the surrounding Italian regions. Local staples include piada/piadina (flatbread, often served as sandwich), strozapret (a thicker, round pasta), and fish.
For us, four restaurants stand head-and-shoulders above the rest as options for an evening meal (reservations recommended at all of them, particularly during peak seasons):
Ristorante Righi (Piazza della Libertà, 10; 12:00-14:30 & 19:30-22:30, closed Mondays) – San Marino's only one star Michelin restaurant, Ristorante Righi overlooks Piazza della Libertà and is situated on top of L’Osteria “La Taverna” Righino (under the same management and kitchen). Featuring vegetarian, fish, and meat tasting menus that highlight the abilities of talented chef Luigi Sartini; boasting a deep wine list; and situated in a classy but comfortable space, Ristorante Righi is a must try for those seeking the best of San Marino's cuisine.
La Terrazza (Contrada del Collegio, 31; 12:00-14:30 & 19:00-22:00) – Perched above Hotel Titano and adjacent to the city walls, La Terrazza's position affords its customers some of the very best views in the city. Take a seat in the enclosed terrace for the best spots overlooking the city walls, government palace, and surrounding hillsides. While the view is unsurpassed the food holds its own too, in particular their meat dishes and homemade pastas.
Ristorante Cesare (Salita alla Rocca, 7; 9:30-15:00 & 18:00-22:00) – Situated alongside the hotel of the same name. Ristorante Cesare specializes in local fish and meat tasting menus, served in a dining room with excellent aesthetics and ambiance (particularly in the evening).
Il Piccolo (Via del Serrone, 15/17; 12:00-15:00 & 19:00-22:30, closed Mondays) – Located next to/below Hotel Silvana in Murata (2.5km/1.5mi from the city center), Il Piccolo serves delicious seafood. The chef prepares a mix of local and imported, raw and cooked, stand-alone or with pasta fish dishes, as well as meat and pizza options. Larger than it looks from the outside, the restaurant has a cozy cave in the back that's a pleasant and romantic place to enjoy your meal. Realistically, you will need a private vehicle to get to the restaurant from either the city or from your rural B&B.
Take advantage of each of these restaurant’s wine lists to sample Marinese wine, particularly if you are not going to make a wine escape part of your experience.
For a more casual lunch, we love:
L’Osteria “La Taverna” Righino (Piazza della Libertà, 10; 12:00-14:30 & 19:30-22:30, closed Mondays) – The more casual sister restaurant to Ristorante Righi, L’Osteria “La Taverna” Righino is located below the ristorante. For those in need of a quick bite or looking for more casual fare, L’Osteria offers the opportunity to taste Chef Luigi Sartini's cooking without the full fanfare of a Michelin starred meal.
Ristorante Springarda (Contrada dei Magazzeni, 30; 9:00-18:30 M-Th and 9:00-23:30 F-Su) – One of the bigger surprises of our visit. We weren't expecting much when we dropped in for lunch but found their pizza to be the best we had in the country, and the view of the valley out their windows even more impressive. If you are looking for a casual lunch place with good pizza and pasta amidst a day of seeing the city's sights, Ristorante Springarda is the place. Don't miss the specialty pizza section of their menu, which strangely follows rather than precedes the main one.