As a seaside city, Genoa has managed to blend different cultures – including culinary ones – thanks to the traffic of goods and people that the city has seen over the years. Today it is a modern city, with a strong culinary tradition and there are many gastronomic specialties that it is able to offer to a visitor attentive to local tradition and who loves to eat good food. The gastronomic history of Genoa begins with the Guild of Pasta makers, established in 1574 with its own statute. Genoa has always had a close relationship with pasta, primarily with pesto. Formally born at the end of the 19th century, it is a derivation of more ancient pounded sauces, such as “agliata“. Its basic ingredient is Genoese basil, a specific variety of basil. But Genoa’s passion for flour is not limited to “trofie” pasta with pesto: there are many local pastas, such as ravioli or the traditional “pansotti“, usually filled with ricotta, eggs and chard. And again the Genoese “focaccia”, made with white soft wheat flour 00, malted cereal flour, pure water or a mix of water and white wine, brewer’s yeast, fine salt and extra virgin olive oil. Olives, rosemary or sage can be added to the basic dough, while above the focaccia there are often white onions cut into slices and seasoned with salt and oil.
If the focaccia for the people of Genoa is a snack, the chickpea “farinata” is a complete meal. A dish that Genoa shares not only with Livorno and Pisa, but also with Sardinia, Piedmont and France. Among the traditional first courses we also have the Genoese vegetable minestrone, with potatoes, beans, courgettes, chard, borage and other vegetables.
In Genoese cuisine, fish cannot be missing, in particular stockfish in Genoa-style prepared with cod, and then squid, anchovies and sardines. Finally, it is impossible not to mention the “cappon magro“, a dish based on fish and vegetables, so called because it is eaten during Lent, when meat is not eaten. Finally, a real Genoese winter meal ends with the Christmas “pandolce“, a round-shaped dessert filled with raisins, lemon zest, pieces of pumpkin and cedar and fennel seeds. Alternatively you can taste the “castagnaccio” (sweet made with chestnuts), the “canestrelli” or the classic apple fritters.
Here is a list of the best restaurants in Genoa.
Soho is a charming restaurant located in the center of Genoa, a few steps from the Aquarium, in the ancient port area. The Soho Restaurant stands out for the care of the furnishings and the quality of the fish-based cuisine. Fish specialties range from raw to classic dishes such as cappon magro. It comes with a fish counter at the entrance where you can choose the fish to be prepared in the open kitchen. Large windows separate the fish counters from the kitchen but reveal, without secrets, the Chef’s preparations. The restaurant is located on the lower floor and is characterized by an elegant and suffused environment, with private rooms perfect for intimate dinners or business lunches. The decor of the restaurant is minimalist but at the same time very welcoming. The Soho restaurant & fish market in Genoa also magically transforms itself, at aperitif time, into a Champagne Lounge Bar where you can taste the freshest fish and seafood specialties, accompanied by cocktails, selected wines and Champagne. The menu is very accurate and changes every day according to the catch and the season. Among the dishes cooked by the Soho restaurant we have: carpaccio of salmon, marjoram and wasabi mayonnaise; Cappon Magro revisited; cream of chickpeas; seared shrimp with rosemary; raw fish tasting; crispy octopus on potato cream; baby squid with Genoese pesto; aubergine pie on curry cream; green taglierini with chard, mussels and squid; sea bass ravioli with olives, pine nuts and dried tomatoes; black risotto with cuttlefish, basil cream and saffron; risotto with red prawns, lime and Champagne; mixed grilled fish with seasonal vegetables; duck, berries, glazed beets and potatoes. And for dessert: creamy white chocolate, fresh strawberries and crunchy waffles; dark chocolate cake with ice cream; baked pear with chilli chocolate. The extensive wine list offers interesting combinations with labels from national and foreign producers.
Il Marin – Porto Antico
Il Marin is Eataly’s gourmet restaurant in Genoa, completely dedicated to the sea. The watchword of Il Marin’s cuisine is simplicity. Chef Marco Visciola studies and creates each dish to best enhance the high quality raw materials. The restaurant boasts an exclusive window with a panoramic view of the sea designed by the architect Renzo Piano and allows guests to eat while enjoying a splendid view of the ancient port, the Bigo and the entire beautiful portion of the Genoese gulf. The protagonist of the cuisine is undoubtedly fish: every day, on the tables of Il Marin you can taste creative and original dishes, which enhance the taste of fish. Wide choice in the three tasting menus that offer local fish specialties and inland recipes, with particular attention to traditions and experiments, but characterized by a very specific thread: respect for the territory and its sea. A real game of flavors, textures and history to fully experience good Ligurian cuisine. Interesting selection of Italian and international wines. The three tasting menus of the gastronomic offer are three paths for a journey that the chef loves to undertake together with those who approach his flavors, which are made of evocation and tradition. It starts from the classic dishes of the restaurant, to then move on to a menu focused on the territory and the city of Genoa, and then arrive at an experimental menu based on respect for the sea and biodiversity. The three menus are accompanied by the possibility of ordering 3 courses of your choice from the tasting itineraries. Mainly prepared with local raw materials, from anchovies from Camogli to purple prawns from Santa Margherita, Il Marin is a true paradise for fish lovers: spaghetti from Gragnano with sardines; fish lasagna; fried fish; the inevitable Cappon Magro and many other delights of the sea, such as asparagus, egg and buttermilk; taggiasca mackerel; focaccia gnocchi, broad beans and Camogli anchovies; rice, pine nuts and mussels; fish, peas and elderflower; sweetbread, tomato and Genoese onion; pasqualina cake and tortelli filled with Genoese pesto.
The 20Tre restaurant is located in the heart of Genoa, a few steps from Piazza de Ferrari, in a mid-fifteenth century building. The environment is welcoming, well furnished and with a relaxing and very quiet atmosphere. It is an ideal place for dinners with friends and family. The 20Tre restaurant has a contemporary look and a cuisine based on a few dishes, almost all of fish, also presented in a modern way and with generous portions. Seasonality of the products and market of the day are the guidelines of this restaurant that gives great importance to attention to detail. The menu follows the rhythm of the seasons and changes every day, based on the fresh fish or the raw materials found on the market. Without ever giving up on the quality of carefully selected products. The cuisine is typically Mediterranean and regional: the great Ligurian dishes are reinterpreted by the chefs in a modern way, while preserving traditional ingredients and passion. To taste the specialty of the house: the bread tagliatelle with Pachino tomato; creamed pasta with pecorino di Pienza cheese, clams, saffron and crunchy onion; purple or red prawns cooked on salt and the scent of Mediterranean herbs; scampi and clams; shrimp in kataifi paste with fresh ginger cream; the cappon magro; veal with tuna sauce; guinea fowl with Sauris bacon and potatoes. And for dessert we have the “panera” semifreddo and the millefeuille with mascarpone cream and dark chocolate cream. Bread, pasta and desserts are made in-house with selected ingredients and excellences of Italy. The wine list accompanies the meal perfectly. Those who come from outside the region discover a new point of view on Genoese cuisine, those who live in Liguria do the same: they will discover a local cuisine revisited for a seasonal menu that changes every three months, and everything comes from the market stalls. The dishes therefore find their basis in the uses of Genoese cuisine but are enriched with precious ingredients from other Italian and Mediterranean regions. Guests are invited to discover new harmonies of tastes by letting themselves be delighted by an eno-gastronomic journey that acts as a trait-d’union between tradition and innovation.
The Cook al Cavo restaurant is located in the heart of the city center of Genoa, in the Branca Doria Palace, inside the Grand Hotel in Arenzano, a stone’s throw from the beautiful Piazza San Matteo and the central Piazza De Ferrari. The restaurant is a truly unique location: the main room is enriched by seventeenth-century frescoes by Bernardo Strozzi on the vault. The soft lights and the intimate and welcoming atmosphere make the room a place in which to carve out a moment of lightheartedness, where you can get to know new flavors and aromas. Nothing is left to chance, everything is carefully studied and creativity accompanies us on a sensory journey full of surprises. At The Cook restaurant it is possible to enjoy lunches and dinners based on fresh products linked to the cuisine of the area and beyond. It is possible to enjoy aperitifs prepared by an exceptional barman both in the internal room and in the large and bright outdoor area. The restaurant also has a second internal room, suitable for private dinners or special events. In the suggestive setting of the alleys of the historic center, in an ancient palace, the cuisine of chef Ivano Ricchebono is based on Ligurian products, with a bright sweet-salty or sour-sweet contrast, a peculiarity that highlights the ability to balance very different flavors. In the dining room, Mrs. Elisa, wife of the chef, graciously ensures excellent service and valid advice on wines. Ivano Ricchebono with his restaurant The Cook has been carrying on his idea of avant-garde Ligurian cuisine since 2004. His cooking is a constant dialogue between sea and land. These are some of the dishes on the restaurant menu: fantasy of shellfish, coconut, basil; smoked scallop fish, peas, yogurt; risotto with seafood; spaghetti with sea urchins and ginger; mackerel, almonds and seaweed; Guinea fowl plin, mushrooms and green tomato. Among the desserts: Gianduia, pears, mascarpone; honey, yogurt, chamomile; Brioche, coffee and licorice. The wide choice of finger food, colorful and carefully created by Chef Ricchebono, means that even an informal dinner or a long aperitif, turns into a scenographic event of pleasant tasting with small delicacies.
In the heart of the historic center of the city and close to the beautiful Piazza De Ferrari, the Hostaria Ducale is a restaurant of great personality with very intimate and elegantly furnished rooms. The restaurant is reminiscent of the halls of an ancient palace, thanks to the barrel vaults and the decorations on the walls that evoke valuable stuccoes. For the interior furnishings, on the contrary, a contemporary style was chosen with simple and clean lines, creating a pleasant contrast and a refined and elegant environment. Another valuable note is the table, on which dishes with a truly unique design stand out. At the entrance with the corner bar stands a spectacular steam brazier with fake LED flames in variable colors. Just beyond, here is the only dining room with soft light, marble tables served by chairs and sofas, decorations and details of character between the elegance of black and the warmth of gold. The kitchen is entrusted to Daniele Rebosio, a young Chef who already boasts significant experiences alongside great contemporary masters. The cuisine takes its cue from the territory and is elaborated with modern techniques and imaginative ideas; a lot of attention is also paid to wines with high quality labels. Here you can taste: Waffle with lime mayonnaise and a dried black cabbage leaf in soy sauce; crunchy Nori seaweed with cod creamed in Taggiasca olive; cuttlefish, hazelnut and bergamot; the egg is served in two versions: the egg cooked at a low temperature with nothing but a pinch of salt, to enhance the exceptional raw material. The egg with a base of beef, black truffle, tarragon, potato mousse and, of course, the egg yolk cooked at low temperature. The dish is finished at the table with Taggiasca extra virgin olive oil scented with tarragon. Among the first courses: “Riserva San Massimo” risotto with smoked eel and purple cabbage; ravioli, pink shrimp and ginger; Mancini spaghetti, pepper, cashews and fennel. Among the main courses: scampi, courgette flowers and mushrooms; cod, asparagus and Bernese noisette; pigeon, anchovy and red fruits. And to finish the desserts: pistachio, strawberry and anise; cottage cheese and honey; onion, almond and licorice. During the dining experience you will be accompanied by an attentive, precise and friendly service.
The Santa Teresa restaurant is located in the heart of Genoa, precisely under the towers of Porta Soprana and at 100 meters. from the house of Christopher Columbus. The most prestigious streets of the city are easily reachable nearby. The owners will take you to appreciate ancient Ligurian recipes revisited in a more contemporary way. Here you can enjoy a committed cuisine which, in addition to offering local dishes, offers new combinations. The wine list is full of national and foreign proposals. In summer it is possible to have lunch and dinner at one of the tables arranged in the outdoor area overlooking the cathedral of San Lorenzo. The restaurant is the result of the work and passion for the culinary art of the Scala family, who have been managing the San Giorgio restaurant for years, a real point of reference in the Genoese gastronomic scene. Santa Teresa is characterized by a cuisine that, in addition to offering typical dishes of the area, offers new combinations of flavor. The quality – only first-choice products are used – and the experience of years and years of work in the sector are able to satisfy every type of customer. Here dishes are created with the right balance of flavors, calibrated in order to bring out the taste of the individual foods without altering them. There is also a wide choice of dishes for those suffering from food intolerances, in particular for those who are intolerant to gluten. The menu is based on fish. Try a traditional Ligurian menu and, in particular, the anchovy “bagnun” and pesto, as well as the cappon magro, the local specialty. And again: linguine with anchovies; rice with horseradish and carrots; Ligurian fish of the day; the roasted pigeon. The Santa Teresa restaurant is ideal for those who want refined cuisine, for those who love food, and for those who want to enjoy the beauties of the city, to be enjoyed comfortably seated in the welcoming internal rooms or in the outdoor terrace. The goal of restaurateurs is clear: to guarantee customers high-quality cuisine and impeccable service to transform lunch or dinner into an occasion to remember.
Le Cicale in Città
Right in the city center, Le Cicale in Città is a small restaurant characterized by a refined, pleasant environment and an intimate atmosphere. It is a chic restaurant, with retro-style armchairs and embellished with antique mirrors and porcelain. The dishes are mainly based on fresh fish, cooked with a pinch of imagination. In fact, the restaurant offers fresh fish dishes according to the seasons and market proposals, such as lobster panzanella with basil sauce, but also meat dishes (especially in winter) and vegetarian dishes (always on the menu). Always fresh and homemade bread, like desserts. Chef Matteo Costa puts the quality of the products first: fresh fish, the best meats, Italian cheeses from small producers, served together with strictly homemade jams. And again homemade pasta, bread and focaccia baked twice a day. Furthermore, wine lovers can choose from 350 fine labels. Le Cicale in Città uses high quality raw materials, selected in the neighboring territories, to create dishes that combine flavors in an unusual and surprising way. A tasty and flavoursome cuisine, made up of strong flavors, and thanks to these you can still feel a certain bond with the territory. This bond is evident above all in the products used, mostly from the area. Many dishes are based on fish and every day there are proposals off the menu with the catch of the day. The whole menu deserves a taste, but the dishes that best describe this restaurant are the appetizers, the lobster “panzanella” and among the first courses the spinach gnocchi with prawns and potato cloud; paccheri with tuna bottarga with burrata cream and cherry tomatoes. Among the main courses we have the “palamita” with vegetables; hake in phillo paste with pistachios. Among the desserts, tiramisu and millefeuille are excellent. The environment is very much comfortable and with a touch of elegance. The service is thoughtful and never intrusive.
In a refined restaurant with attention to the smallest details, we find dishes mainly based on an excellent local fish and some land specialties such as foie gras and suckling pig. The cuisine is Mediterranean, colorful, fragrant and enjoys the excellent combination of professionalism and solid family management of the Scala brothers. The Scala family has focused on quality and refinement, in the kitchen as well as in the design, re-evaluating key elements of the previous furniture and integrating them with new and more modern choices, such as the very particular porthole mirrors, the colored chandeliers or the sober galley that house precious bottles, an initial tasting of the rich choice of wines proposed by the restaurant. The San Giorgio restaurant is located in the city center, a few hundred meters from the Genova Brignole railway station and the Genoa International Fair. The cuisine offers innovative dishes created by the young chef Graziano Caccioppoli. There is no shortage of dishes linked to the Ligurian territory. At the San Giorgio family atmosphere and refinement find their perfect combination thanks to haute cuisine, a refined wine list (with over 800 labels) and a warm welcome. All with a Mediterranean touch and flavor that is evident in all dishes, without giving up Ligurian cuisine, but interpreted in an absolutely contemporary and highly successful way. At the San Giorgio Restaurant the highest quality raw material is a fundamental aspect from which one never deviates, for this reason the proposal varies according to the seasonality of the ingredients. On the menu you will find high quality fresh fish based appetizers paired with the best seasonal vegetables, as in the case of the traditional Genoese Cappon Magro. This is followed by the choice of first courses, where the gnocchi with pesto stand out. Among the main courses (a mix of land and sea dishes) we have the red mullet in Rossini style. Absolutely not to be missed are a turbot in mugnania style and roasted sea bass with miso. As far as land dishes are concerned, a particular place is that of the pigeon presented in an absolutely original way. The chapter of desserts is a reference to the great passion for pastry: the sweet tomato soup; Vico Equense mozzarella ice cream and basil granita.
Located in an alley below the renowned Corso Italia, the Santamonica restaurant has a fantastic sea view as its strong point, which can also be used from the inside room. From the terrace and veranda, however, you can enjoy the scent of the sea even more, especially on beautiful summer days. The view totally embraces the sea and the terrace is large and airy. Here Monica and Andrea, assisted by the Genoese chef Mattia Congia, warmly welcome guests in an elegant and panoramic setting. The menu offers impeccable cuisine, prepared with the best catch of the day. High quality fresh fish is in fact the protagonist in cuisine. The dishes are of a high standard created by combining local tradition with a contemporary reinterpretation. The menu is striking for not presenting a distinction between appetizers, first and second courses; the customer is free to order what he prefers, without constraints or formalities. If at Santamonica the protagonist is fish, nevertheless there is no lack of excellent meat dishes and various recipes typical of the Genoese tradition. Raw foods are the pride of the restaurant: red prawns from Santa Margherita, scampi, tuna, prawns, cuttlefish and oysters, lead you on an intriguing journey made of scents and flavors of the sea as well as surprising combinations. Pasta could not be missing, whose role is enhanced by the artisanal preparation carried out directly in the restaurant’s kitchen, together with bread. Among the desserts we have traditional sweets such as “Panera”, “Sacripantina”, and “Mattonella”, a very popular dessert. Each dish is prepared paying attention to local or regional excellences whose seasonality is respected. The wine list also tells of a unique love for Liguria: among foreign and Italian quality wines, the selection of Ligurian bottles stands out. From the Cinque Terre to the heights of Noli, the local wine impeccably marries the flavor of fresh fish from the Ligurian Sea.
The restaurant Le Rune was born from the passion of Simona and Alberto who began working together in 1997. The restaurant is located in Salita Inferiore Sant’Anna, adjacent to Via Garibaldi, in the center of Genoa. A restaurant on several levels: 3 rooms, a mezzanine and a wonderful terrace overlooking the Sant’Anna funicular, a colorful and modern location. The furniture and the setting up of the tables are meticulously detailed, with particular attention to their logo, which is even present on the plates and glasses. At the Le Rune restaurant, typical and genuine cuisine is served, using regional products, paying close attention to the freshness and quality of the raw materials, for this reason the menu changes every week following the season, with the scents and colors of Liguria, between the sea and mountains. The chefs are very attentive to cooking methods and the origin of the ingredients. On their à la carte menu you can try some of their workhorses: these are unusual dishes, with combinations that may seem risky, but which bind together beautifully. Le Rune restaurant is the ideal place to eat with friends or family, but also for an informal business dinner. There are also excellent choices for the menu of the day at lunch with an excellent quality / price ratio. Care of the rooms and Ligurian cuisine of good inspiration and inventiveness, supported by quality oils and assorted cheeses are the elements that distinguish the restaurant. Among the dishes on the menu we have for example: tuna steak with avocado cream accompanied by caramelized onions. The cooked vacuum-packed cod is also exceptional. Do not miss the Roccaverano robiola cheese flan and black and muscat truffle; sea bass fillet with pesto au gratin with fried artichokes; hot apple cocotte with pine nuts and raisins and cinnamon ice cream. The suggested pairing with local and national wines is also right.
“Volta la carta” is a popular allegorical song by the Genoese singer Fabrizio De André: behind each figure there is a character. Behind the door of this restaurant, there is a small and friendly environment, where the chef Maurizio Pinto prepares intriguing seafood specialties, selecting excellent products. In his restaurant he uses only local ingredients and has rediscovered the beauty of the Ligurian gastronomic tradition with a dish: Cappon Magro, which has always been one of his favorite dishes. Voltalacarta is a welcoming, elegant and well-kept restaurant with excellent cuisine, where you can taste excellent dishes mainly of fish made with high quality ingredients. The products used by the restaurant are those of the Italian and Genoese tradition and the dishes offered (from fish to “cappon magro” and anchovies) are prepared with fresh raw materials. The creative cuisine is mainly based on fish, starting with lobster and shellfish medallions with fennel, tomatoes and Taggiasca olives in lime citronette, served after the chef’s welcome. Or dishes like cod cannelloni and squid salad with thyme and with ginger potato cream and crunchy tufts; the spit with white fish and shellfish au gratin with herbs; black rice polenta with rosemary prawns. Among the first courses we also remember the Sardinian fregola with sea ragù with Vernaccia di Oristano wine and Cabras mullet bottarga. As main courses, we have the excellent sea bass with shellfish mousse and vegetables in bread crust; swordfish roll with pine nuts and sweet and sour raisins. The desserts and small pastries are also excellent: the offer ranges from the more classic nougat parfait to an interesting Bavarian with passion fruit and coconut crumble. The wide choice of breads and focaccias that accompany the whole dinner also deserve a mention.