Advantages amazing food, very cheap, amazing atmosphere, authetically italian, very lively,
Disadvantages At least some basic Italian is needed, very basic decor, very simple, noisy
This unimposing little trattoria is a real gem, situated in the small winding streets of the old medieval town it is hard to find and unless you get there early there will be queues down the street! This is an authentic Italian experience and a must for lovers of Ligurian cuisine, including the famous 'Pesto Genovese' served here with the traditional 'trenetti' shaped pasta.I was taken her by my Dad who had been working in Genova for a few weeks and had been told he must go there, he did and it turn took me! Named after the now deceased Maria, a formidable Italian matriarch who my Dad insists bore a resemblance to my Great Aunt, it is still a family run place and resists any attempts to gentrify it which works in its favour.
It is an authentic Italian experience, so be prepared to learn some Italian otherwise you will flounder, all the menus are written in Italian in scrawly handwriting and badly photocopied and staff only know basic English. You should also be prepared to, literally, rub shoulders with the locals. You are sat wherever there is room and it is common to share tables with strangers.Now for the food, it is mostly local Ligurian fare, a lot of seafood and fish which is very fresh and seasonal as Genova is a large port. In typical Italian style you start with a pasta dish then a meat or fish dish (this is perhaps not the best place for vegetarians, though there are options if you can decipher the menu!) followed by a dessert. You can order, one, two or all three of the courses, with either wine or soft drinks. The wine is basic house wine and does the job, but then I am no wine expert!
The pasta dishes are numerous and change everyday, one must have is Pesto, the famous basil, pine nut and parmesan sauce using local basil renowned for it sweetness and local olive oil. This pesto is a different species to your usual supermarket stuff, for a start it is infinitely greener! Pesto is traditionally served with a long thin pasta called 'trenetti' and cooked potatoes with some green beans. Other local specialities offered include herb stuffed pasta with a creamy nut sauce, salsa di noci, and various sea food sauces including the much loved 'Polpo' or octopus.Mains are meat or fish, with some stuffed ("ripene") vegetables though I can't say if the stuffing is 100% vegetarian. 'Spada' or sword fish is a local speciality and is usually very fresh and served simply grilled with a salad, which is simple and delicious. Seasonal specialities include lamb stew. I had an interesting fish dish, the name of which I can't remember and which was explained to me in half Italian half English , never the less it was unusual and delicious, It consisted of deep fried fish pieces in a batter, cold and served with a vinegary dressing.
After that I was far too full for dessert but the options included simple fruit salad and a creme caramel type pudding. Coffee was not available as they like to get you out quickly due to the numbers queuing outside, however as coffee shops are situated every 2 feet in Italy this is no problem!
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