Spaghetti Carbonara di Mare seafood pasta at Palmieri La Lanternina 2 restaurant in Follonica

Palmieri – La Lanternina 2

Not to be confused with La Lanterna or La Lanternina restaurants, La Lanternina 2 (better called Palmieri given the confusion) deserves to be singled out for its seafood. Yes the family-friendly seaside town of Follonica is swamped with casual seafood restaurants and pizzerias – usually the two combined, Palmieri is no different.

Service is casual but efficient  but it lacks maturity. Order the Tris di Pasta (Pasta Trio) and three heaping plates come out, one at a time making sure that the pasta doesn’t get cold while you eat. Composed of Ravioli Mare e Monti (Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Seafood Cream Sauce,) Risotto alla Mariniere (Risotto with Mixed Seafood) and Penne al Granchio (Penne with Crab and Tomato) it is a veritable feast, and a worthy indulgence. The mixed seafood appetizer is equally abundant, offering various crostini with assorted cooked seafood toppings, marinated anchovies, and seafood salad. It provides an abbreviated snapshot of what the kitchen is capable of.

The risotto is more rice than risotto, with a drier consistency and nothing to get in the way of the seafood flavor, which comes predominantly from squid, calamari and totani. The crab really comes through in the penne as well, which tosses al dente pasta, with a bit of tomato sauce and large chunks of crab, still in the shell. It is messy eating, but worth the work.

Spaghetti Carbonara di Mare is an Italian anomaly, breaking all the rules, but one that you can still find with relative regularity especially in Follonica, combines a treasure trove of plump mussels, clams and tiny true clams, along with slices of calamari in a rich egg yolk sauce. The dish is hearty and filling, but the flavors of seafood still come through clear. The dish has proved so popular that in the peak summer season they have to take it off the menu. (If it isn’t on the menu – don’t ask, it isn’t the same.)

Main courses cover the traditional with a few oddballs thrown in. Yes of course there is the Mixed Grilled Seafood, the Mixed Fried Seafood with Prawns and Calamari and the Fried Paranza (small fish) but there is also baked Grouper Gratin topped with grated cheese and breadcrumbs. (Another Italian anomaly here! – one does not put cheese on seafood) The mild, tender fish, flakes easily under it’s rich coating, the cheese melts to become more of a sauce than a crisp crust.

Desserts are all made in-house. They cover the basics Crème Brûlé, Chocolate Mousse, Cheesecake, Panna Cotta and Sorbetto. The Panna Cotta offers great flavor, but the texture is unduly firm, cheesecake, instead offers surprising lightness and offers a mild creamy cake with almost mouselike texture and a bit of flaked coconut in the crust, it comes in a rich dark chocolate ganache worth eating on its own.

There’s a decent but short wine selection with roughly 5 sparkling wines, about 10 white and 10 reds, many of the wines priced between 15 – 20 euros with a few famous splurges thrown in for good measure. The restaurant also offers a number of fixed price menus which offer great value and even greater amounts of food! Don’t even contemplate ordering one for everyone.

Sit outside on the pretty white patio and enjoy the sea breeze and catch a glimpse of the ocean. This is easily one of the most pleasant and most pleasing restaurants in town.

Signature Dishes: Spaghetti Carbonara di Mare (Spaghetti with Mixed Shellfish and Egg Yolk)
Get It!: Spaghetti Carbonara di Mare (Spaghetti with Mixed Shellfish and Egg Yolk) if it’s on the menu.

Lungomare Italia, 160, Pratorenieri, Follonica. http://www.ristorantepalmieri.com; tel: +39 335 5881913.

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