A street food tour of Genoa

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From fluffy focaccia to creamy pànera, local Michelin-starred chef Ivano Ricchebono introduces our writer to a taste of the Italian port city

Genoa-born chef Ivano Ricchebono looks like a Hollywood actor playing a chef in a movie. His restaurant The Cook is in a 14th-century palazzo in the old town, and as I step into the dining room I stop and stare – the entire place is covered with frescoes. It’s wildly romantic. “People get engaged here all the time,” Ivano says with a smile. Awarded his first Michelin star in 2010, he has cooked for Stanley Tucci, and has an international reputation for excellence. But today he’s my tour guide – not to the blossoming fine dining scene but to the affordable (and equally delicious) fare enjoyed by locals every day.

Once a mandatory stop on the 19th-century Grand Tour, and known as “La Superba”, Genoa centre is full of impressive architecture that tells of this under-rated port city’s past as a rich and powerful republic. Squeezed between the sea and the Ligurian Alps, it’s just an hour and a half by fast train from Milan, and about the same down to the Cinque Terre. Among Italians the city is renowned for its culinary riches – almost everyone agrees that the pesto and focaccia here are the best in the country (there’s even a foccacia festival in May). Our plan is to walk through several neighbourhoods and taste as many of Genoa’s gastronomic delights as possible.

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