Four Ligurian specialties and where to eat them
There’s more to Liguria than Portofino and Cinque Terre. With its tiny fishing villages and rich culinary traditions, the Italian Riviera is a must-visit for foodies.
Focaccia di Recco
Call it focaccia, pizza or just plain bread, it seems like each Italian region lays claim to inventing this olive oil-rich flatbread. While the narrow, cobblestoned streets of Old Genoa are full of authentic focaccerias, perfect for a cheap, tasty snack, venture west to the town of Recco for their signature take, a crepe-like version topped with salty stracchino cheese. It’s hard not to spoil your appetite with da o Vittorio’s – though served as an appetizer, it’s larger than most party-sized pizzas (and impossible to stop eating).
While herbaceous pesto sauce is a favorite pasta-topper around the world, few know it originates in Liguria – even in spite of its name, Genovese (which means of Genoa – Liguria’s capital). Pesto here is less garlicky and more vividly green than other versions you may have tried, thanks to the sweetest local basil (Roman chefs often lament that theirs just doesn’t compare), and served on short, twisted pasta called trofie. Sa Pesta, a non-touristy, no-frills spot in Genoa’s old city, serves up some of the best.
This thin, chickpea-based pancake tastes similar to a potato latke – only topped with that same stracchino cheese as you’ll find on focaccia di Recco, it’s even better. While pretty much every bakery and traditional trattoria in the region serves up this traditional comfort food, visit Farinata Luchin, a family-run restaurant in Chiavari that has been serving this local favorite (and other traditional Ligurian foods) since 1907.
Given its coastal location, there’s no surprise that seafood dishes abound in Liguria. While fried prawns and calamari and anchovies in all manner of preparations abound, the local specialty is fish cooked with a garlic and white wine-spiked mix of potatoes, tomato, black olives and pine nuts. Though seaside restaurants offer a lovely view, that old rule of venturing inland for better meals applies. In the tiny fishing village of Camogli, trek up the narrow hilly streets away from the port to La Cucina di Nonna Nina to taste this preparation the way grandma makes it.
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