A Foodie Guide for Italian food lovers
Italy is known to be one of the best countries in the world for food (if not THE best country in the world to eat!) As Genoa is a city by the sea, with a blend of different cultures, its culinary specialties reflect both the combination of cultures and Mediterranean food traditions. Here is the list of Genovese delicacies – don’t leave Genoa without trying them all!
Known all over the world, but only made perfectly in Genoa. If you want to break the ice when doing business in Genoa, take this tip from me “If you are offered focaccia, never say no. Even better, bring focaccia to all your meetings and social gatherings!”
Genoa was a Repubblica founded from focaccia!
Dip it in your cappuccino for a real Genoese breakfast, or enjoy it together with a glass of white wine before lunch!
We recommend trying it out at “Focaccia e dintorni”
Focaccia stuffed with melted cheese
This is another typical local variant, traditionally made to perfection in Recco, around 25km from Genoa on the Eastern riviera. It’s a delicacy you can eat almost exclusively only in Genoa’s province.
Stop press: as of this week, you can enjoy the original Recco focaccia with the PGI label (Protected Geographical Indication) in Genoa @the Birreria HB in Via G. Boccardo, right by the fountain in De Ferrari!
Hint: It’s certainly worth a trip down the coast to Recco to try out the original version @ Da O’ Vittorio (Via Nuova Valassina) or la Manuelina (via Roma), both nearby the motorway exit.
Fried food: Fried squid and anchovies, “frisceu” and “panissa”
Our favourite treat is to go to Boccadasse, grab some fried calamari to go and sit down by the beach and enjoy the sunset.Or if you prefer wandering around the old town – in the caruggi (narrow alleys) – we recommend you stop off at the Friggitoria Carega (via di Sottoripa) Read more about these shops
Among the other fried food options available, don’t miss the renowned “frisceu”, fluffy fried dough balls or “panissa”, the Genoese version of French fries, made with chickpea flour!!
In the South of France, they have what is called “Socca” which would be the equivalent to Italian farinata, a delicious mix of olive oil and chickpea flour. It is thin and crispy on the surface, but soft inside.
A great take away place with more than 200 years of experience making farinata: Antica Sciamadda in Via Ravecca
Ladies and Gentlemen, please stand for his Majesty… PESTO!
Did you know Pesto comes from Genoa?! Pra, a neighbourhood of Genoa, is the birthplace and most renowned place for PDO basil growing. Typical sorts of pasta served with this delicious sauce are trofie al pesto, mandilli de sea (paperthin lasagne, resembling handkerchiefs) or trenette al pesto!
Pansoti with walnut sauce
A locally made pasta stuffed with herbs and served doused with a delicious milky sauce made with walnuts. A perfect winter dish!
Ravioli al tocco
Delicious stuffed pasta served with a particular stewed meat sauce that has to cooked for about 3 hours!
- In the mood for a romantic dinner? Try Osvaldo in the beautiful Boccadasse, with great local cuisine
- In the historical city center, we suggest Antica Osteria Vico Palla (Vico Palla), Trattoria delle Grazie (Via delle Grazie), il Genovese (Via Galata) or, a bit further away, Le Cicale in Trattoria (Via Ruspoli) for a typical Genoese meal!
For veggie lovers, don’t miss this typical fresh vegetable soup, very famous thanks to a maritime tradition – in fact historically in Genoa port there were small floating restaurants arranged on boats or small barges. Minestrone was served there, a great comfort after long periods spent ashore eating salty seafood!
You could also enjoy Ceci in zimino (a soup made of chickpea and chard). Sometimes if you are lucky you might find the delicious variant of cuttlefish with chard on the menu.
For Soup lovers, with a great location and premium quality food @Zupp (Piazza San Matteo)
Cima is a piece of veal stuffed with a mix of ingredients, such as eggs, peas, pine nuts, cheese, herbs and spices and sweetbreads. The pocket of veal is then sewn up, resembling a big ham, and cooked and sliced. Absolutely delicious, the complexity of its preparation makes it one of the most noble Genoese specialities.
Vegetable quiches and polpettone
(vegetable meatloaf, but not only for veggie lovers!)
Genoa’s best quiche is one with Easter roots – the torta Pasqualina — pastry filled with spinach or chard, artichokes and prescinseua, a typical Genoese sour cheese. Cooked in the oven, polpettone is instead a “meatloaf” made with potatoes and green beans: worth to give it a try!
A favourite city centre haunt for farinata and veggie quiches is Sa pesta, honoured by institutions with the title of “old-world shop” as one of Genoa’s living monuments with heritage to be preserved.
Trippa – yes, tripe
Ok, maybe this isn’t for everyone as it is an acquired taste. But once you start, you’ll be hooked. For real foodies who like to try everything, check it out in the historical shops in the city? Genoa locals vote trippa as one of the city’s street foods par excellence.
Don’t miss the oldest place in town making this dish, the Tripperia Casana – with advance booking you can try different trippa options!
Stockfish is simply dried cod fish.
Apart from the fried version, the most famous dishes using this ingredient on offer are stoccafisso accomodato, a stockfish stew with potatoes, pine nuts, olives and tomatoes, and stocche e bacilli: a stew of stockfish and dried fava beans.
You could also try brandacujun, a typical dish from the Western Riviera based on potatoes, stockfish and a lot of extra virgin olive oil.
If you wish to try cooking your own, buy your stockfish at La Bottega dello Stoccafisso (Via dei Macelli di Soziglia)
Cappon magro, the king of seafood salads, a typical Christmas dish
Born as a poor dish, consisting mainly from leftovers and less noble fish, over the years it has become the most festive and sumptuous preparation in Ligurian cuisine.
A majestic dome is composed by alternating various fish layers with vegetables dressed with a green sauce, surrounded by shellfish, topped off with large, showy crustaceans and richly decorated with eggs, olives, capers and vegetables. An architectural exercise rather than a culinary one!
Check out this blog if you dare to prepare it for the next New Year’s eve!
Don’t forget to leave some room for dessert!
You can’t not stop @ Romanengo, (Piazza Soziglia) founded in 1780 or @ Villa/Profumo (Via Portello) dating back to 1827. Roll back the years tasting delicious candied fruit, bonbons, candied chestnuts and sugared almonds…
For chocolate lovers, try Viganotti in vico dei Castagna, who have been producing excellent chocolate since 1866.
A typical pudding you may enjoy at the end of your meal in one of Genoa’s trattorias is latte dolce fritto (sweet, fried milk) or canestrelli, delicious butter biscuits often served with sweet wines like passito. If you wish to buy some look for the ones made in Genoese biscuit meccas Torriglia and Montebruno.
At Christmas time, but also throughout the year, you should definitely sample some Pandolce, the city’s “Christmas cake” made with raisins, pine nuts and candied fruit. If you are here over the festive period don’t miss it and send some home! An extra tip for butter lovers: try the “basso” or “lower” and thinner version.