This year, with the launch of direct flights Romania-Italy by Ernest Airlines, I stopped for a city break in the biggest city port in Italy: Genoa. Thank you, Miha, for the invite 😉
Genoa is a sensational city, with many ancient buildings [including 42 UNESCO palaces].
If you like to walk through the streets you’ll love this city because, besides the interesting buildings, it has a lot of level differences that create perfect frames and angles for holiday pictures. And if you want to enjoy more the experience without being in a hurry, at every step you can find a place where you can enjoy an esprésso or an ice cream.
The old town is like a maze. The good news is that you can discover it on foot and no matter how much you explore it, you will reach the places you’re looking for (whether you have a Google map or you leave it to chance, you will still get there). About two times when I was looking for places I woke up in front of them just when I wanted to open Google Maps.
But coming back to the main subject of the post, where do you eat in Genoa?
I have selected a few places so that you have enough options for a day:
If you’ve just started exploring the city, in the street food category, I recommend you a stop at Friggitoria San Giorgio. There, I have tasted the most delicious deep fried seafood so far. I bought a paper cone with squid and octopus. Even now, when I think about this food I would eat some. It was hard to convince myself not to buy another one [but I knew that I was planning other stops for food as well 🙂
By the way, Friggitoria San Giorgio is about 10 square meters booth located in Caricamento square.
Depending on what you buy, the price can vary between 7 and 10 EUR.
After exploring the old port (Puerto Antico), walk until you reach the fish market and then head to small streets until you get to Tazze Pazze – Caffeteria Gourmet from 2009. It’s the right time to stop [if you’re a fan] for a specialty coffee.
It was a hot day, so I chose an Esprésso Sheckerato (strong like Italians are used to, maybe a little bit too strong for me 🙂
The café is located in a small square where they have only 7 tables outside (you cannot sit inside because the café is too small).
Right next to it is Genova Dischi, which completes the feeling of “dolce far niente” with 60s-70s music while you enjoy your coffee.
Trattoria Da Maria. It was on my list of the places to go to in Genoa. Luckily, Google Maps can save you when you’re looking for a backstreet (actually a Gucci store is right next to the street I was looking for). There I could only see some washed out clothes and a sign with Da Maria. From the outside, you can only see a few tables on the ground floor for no more than 12 people. Don’t be disappointed thinking that you won’t get a seat. If you go up, you will be surprised to find there are 4 more rooms with tables. So, it’s much bigger than you can see it from outside and it’s worth to ask if they have a table for you too.
Here, I’ve tasted Crenette al pesti alla Genovese [spaghetti with Genovese pesto sauce] and Cina di vitelli alla genovese con contorno [a Ligurian dish, specific not only to the region but also to Genoa] with French fries.
Da Maria is a place where to eat a cheap, but also tasty lunch (I ate a first course and half from the second course which I shared with somebody else and it only cost us 8 EUR each). Just to set your expectations right: it’s an old, simple eating house, that won’t impress you by its looks, but it will win your heart with its delicious food.
When I did my research on places to eat in Genoa, I was reading that Genovese people must eat at Da Maria at least once in their lifetime. So I guess you should not miss this one.
Then, it’s worth to stop for a real gelato since you’re in Italy. It would be a shame not to taste some, especially because in the old town you can stop at Gelateria Profumo (note – on Google Maps there’s another one called Gelateria Profumo Rosa that I don’t know anything about, if they have the same owner or not, as I haven’t stopped there). So, make sure you stop at the right one. They have a creamy gelato that would worth a 5 stars.
I tasted pistachio and strawberry.
The one with pistachio flavor was super creamy and had a strong taste, while the one with strawberry was sensational: like I was eating fresh strawberries right from the garden.
In the afternoon or evening is a must to go and taste an aperitivo at Muá
Aperitivo is like a happy hour with a Swedish buffet including also a drink in the same price.
Usually for Italians this is just the start of the evening meal, because afterwards they go to dinner 😉
At Muá we even had oysters included in the aperitivo menu.
For such a treat the price was only 12 EUR.
I ate enough at Muá, so I didn’t go for dinner as well, so I would end the list with a suggestion just for drinks [a totally modest place, full of locals]: Café Il Barbarossa
I got there around 11 PM. The place was full of friends of the waitresses and probably the owner also.
Among them, a couple with a 2-3 years old boy that was playing with a ball [a white and red ball with the same colors of the flag of Genoa]. The boy was kicking the ball, always waiting for somebody to pick it up. When nothing happened, he was expressing strongly his expectations (typically Italian I would say). Before they left, the boy said goodbye, kissed and hugged each of his parents’ friends.
Tips and suggestions:
On Sundays Genoa is very quiet and lots of restaurants are closed, even in the touristic area.
In the residential area where I stayed is even quieter. After 9 PM you can barely see people on the streets.
But you can find something for dinner in the old town in Piazza delle Erbe.
I ate there an “aperizena” (something between aperitivo and dinner) at Giano Bifronte. By the way, I don’t recommend this place because the food wasn’t that good. I liked the Panissa Genovese and some softer donuts called Cuculli. The rest of the food wasn’t that tasty.
And if you want to buy a sweet gift, I suggest to make a stop at Viganotti Romeo (from 1866) for handcrafted chocolate. Some of the products are prepared in a craft lab where they still use old machines and molds. Once you enter the chocolate shop it will be hard to take your eyes off all the sweets you see there.
These are my recommendations. If you discover other places that should I should try for the next stop in Genoa, note your suggestions in the comments below.