Anchovy Love in Genova

acciughe edited

Marinated anchovies topped with paprika threads at Trattoria dell’Acciughetta, Genova.

I was expecting to be wowed by the Italian Riviera, but as it turns out it was Genoa ~ Genova in proper Italian ~ that won me over, starting with a tiny trattoria.

One of my rules when traveling, especially long distances, is that there ought to be a nice meal ~ or at least the prospect of one ~ waiting upon arrival. It might be a restaurant reservation made weeks ahead, a dish of pasta at a friend’s house, or street food enjoyed while wandering around a new town. If I’m spending the night flying over the Atlantic shoehorned into a seat in Economy Class, let there please be good food on the other side.

In Genova, there was Trattoria dell’Acciughetta, a sweet little spot that opened just a few weeks ago. I heard about it from my Instagram friend Elena (@elenacipretti), who lives in Milano and is friends with the owners. She had posted a picture on her IG feed, and the name of the place, which translates to “trattoria of the little anchovy,” won me over while I was still thousands of miles away.

trattoria acciughetta diptic 2 Acciughetta is in a bustling and diverse neighborhood just steps away from the city’s port, on a street that shares space with clothing boutiques, tabacchai, halal butchers and kebab shops. It’s located at the north end of Genova’s historic Caruggi district, a maze of narrow streets and alleyways. The area is a rough around the edges, as most urban ports are, but also brimming with life and history and worth exploring.

The trattoria’s owners are Giorgia and Federica Losi, along with their dad. Both sisters have big plans, though their longterm visions don’t quite mesh. Giorgia (above on the left), dreams of opening more trattorie dell’Acciughetta ~ in New York, Los Angeles, and other far-flung places. Federica (above right) wants to be a jazz singer.

In the mean time, they are pouring their hearts into this tiny gem. The sisters, all smiles and friendly service, run the front of the house, while in the kitchen, the Sicilian-born chef prepares mostly seafood dishes with impeccably fresh ingredients, riffing off Genovese classics. The vinegar-marinated anchovies you see in the photo at the top of this post were crowned with slightly smoky threads of paprika peppers. The anchovies themselves were delicious, with a clean, fresh flavor. My anchovy-obsessed son said they were the best he had ever eaten.

I wish I had taken pictures of other dishes we ate, especially the polpo alla piastra (octopus cooked on a flat-top grill) and the fritto misto (mixed fried seafood), which was served hot out of the fryer in a brown paper cone. But we were jet-lagged and hungry. Pictures were not a priority; digging in was.

Acciughette cookies At least I remembered to snap this (rather garish) shot of the cookie plate that Giorgia ~ or was it Federica? ~  brought to the table at the end of the meal: mini crunchy biscotti, amaretti, and tiny baci di dama, buttery and crumbly, sandwiched together with gianduja. Oh, and there were also white chocolate truffles filled with rum.

If we had more time we would have gone back for another meal. But who knows…maybe one day we’ll be enjoying marinated anchovies ~ with a side of jazz ~ at Trattoria dell’Acciughetta…DC?

Coming up…more on the flavors of Genova, and postcards from Liguria.

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20 Responses to Anchovy Love in Genova

  1. Rosa Jeanne Mayland April 13, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    Beautiful food! This place sounds wonderful.



    • Domenica Marchetti April 14, 2015 at 7:00 am #

      It’s a darling place, Rosa. If you are headed to Genova anytime soon I highly recommend it. 🙂

  2. paninigirl April 13, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    I’ve had Genova on my list to visit for some time. I can’t wait to hear about the rest of your trip.

    • Domenica Marchetti April 14, 2015 at 7:01 am #

      I’m sure you would enjoy it Janie. And it’s not that far from your beloved Lucca.

  3. Helen April 13, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

    Love those dreamers. Mmmmm, what plump anchovies!

  4. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way April 13, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

    I understand completely — eating takes priority over snapping shots. After all to do justice to the chef — after taking the time to prepare the dish properly it should be eaten as soon as it’s brought to the table. But oh!! How I wish I could have seen each dish. I love the out of the way places, the ones that the locals know about and treasure. Lucky you. I am so looking forward to hearing everything that you experience on this Italian adventure. Buona giornata.

    • Domenica Marchetti April 14, 2015 at 7:11 am #

      Grazie Marisa. In Italy they don’t have the same compulsion that we have to take pictures of everything we eat. At least not yet! So I was also feeling self-conscious about whipping out my phone and clicking a picture of every dish. But now, of course, I wish I had. Next time…

  5. timelessitaly April 13, 2015 at 4:13 pm #

    My kind of meal! Fresh anchovies soaked in vinegar atop a green salad…oh my! I have a special place in my heart for Genova too. I love the Italian Riviera with all its quaint villages, but Genoa gets overlooked when it has so much to see and experience.

    • Domenica Marchetti April 14, 2015 at 7:37 am #

      Hi Susan, yes I agree. Genoa has much to explore. We barely scratched the surface. Will definitely need to return for more.

  6. italyonmymind April 13, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

    I love Genova – such an elegant lady. So glad you enjoyed it there!

    • Domenica Marchetti April 14, 2015 at 7:38 am #

      Lovely description, Paola. I’ve been enjoying your dispatches from Malta. Such an interesting place.

  7. Gian Banchero April 13, 2015 at 10:32 pm #

    As an ex resident of Genova and Liguria I promise all that the cucina of the city and region have some of the best Italian food on the peninsula, starting, of course, with pesto. The cooking of the town and region has been called the greenest kitchen in the world because of the ubiquitous use of green vegetables in almost all dishes. More so than any other Italian coastal town I’ve lived in is from Genova the ability to see the ocean and sky in the intense Mediterranean turquoise blue that does not allow one to sense where sky and water meet which makes one to think that ships are floating in air. Ahh, Genova’s fish dishes are so sublime, and, of course not to be missed is the city’s trippa all Genovese.

    • Domenica Marchetti April 14, 2015 at 7:39 am #

      Yes, it’s an incredible and delicious place, Gian. I loved all the ravioli stuffed with greens and all of the savory green torte. And of course the pesto. Fascinating cuisine like none other in Italy. How lucky for you to have lived there.

  8. amelia April 13, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

    Che bel viaggio, Domenica! How do you call the paprika peppers in Italian? so curious: they are gorgeous, with that bright purple!

  9. Domenica Marchetti April 14, 2015 at 7:40 am #

    When I asked Giorgia what the garnish was, she did say the word ‘paprika.’ I don’t know if there is another term. Good question. If I find out the answer I’ll let you know.

  10. ciaochowlinda April 14, 2015 at 8:02 am #

    Oh now you’re making me salivate st 8 in the morning. Those anchovies! Those baci di dama! I haven’t been to Genova for years and I loved it back then for its beautiful museums and churches as well as its food. I am planning another trip to the Cinque Terre in the fall and now I think a return to Genoa – and to Trattoria dell’ Acciugghetta – will have to get squeezed in there too.

  11. Melissa Muldoon April 15, 2015 at 11:44 am #

    Che bello! The place looks fantastico and the sisters appear to be darling! Non vedo l’ora! Grazie!

  12. Chiara April 16, 2015 at 5:42 am #

    sembra un ristorante molto carino, me lo segno se dovessi ritornare in Liguria ! Buona giornata Domenica, un abbraccio

  13. Susan And Wade April 16, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

    Genova has become one of our special towns to visit..the food, the people, the market, the museums, the water….all is lovely! We’ll definitely put this recommendation on our list for “next visit” eatery. Thanks for sharing!

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