Top Things to Eat in Liguria, Italy: 5 Traditional Dishes

There are a great many excellent gastronomic outputs to indulge in during your visit to Liguria, and you will not be disappointed in the experience. The simple cuisine is made up of typical regional products and elevated by its rich, hearty ingredients.

Liguria is an excellent culinary destination for anyone with dietary restrictions or preferences. Much of the cuisine is vegetarian, and there is a long tradition of using chickpea flour in many of their dishes. As long as travelers come ready to eat their weight in pesto, there will be no room for disappointment!

Best of Ligurian Cuisine

1. Ligurian Focaccia

This delicious leavened flatbread comes in several varieties, but is most commonly consumed in its most basic form: fresh from the oven at a family-owned bakery, fluffy and seasoned with olive oil and salt. Cheese, tomato, salami, and other toppings are often added to the focaccia, which sits tantalizingly behind broad glass barriers until it can be sold in large slabs to pedestrians seeking a nourishing snack.

Another mouthwatering variety of the traditional dish is focaccia col formaggio. The focaccia dough is folded over soft crescenza cheese and baked in an oven at a high temperature for just a few minutes, then served hot and crispy. Crescenza is a young cow’s cheese produced in Liguria, but similar soft cheeses such as stracchino can be used as a substitute.

2. Pesto alla Genovese

It would not be an exaggeration to say that pesto is consumed by the gallon in Liguria. The tasty sauce is made from garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, two kinds of cheese (usually parmesan and whatever local sheep’s cheese is available), and most importantly, several large handfuls of fresh basil. The flavorful bright green pesto is used to dress pasta, salads, sandwiches, and soups.

A typical Ligurian pasta dish will feature trofie noodles, which are short and fat, resembling long strands of rice. The pasta is mixed with green beans, potatoes, and a touch of pasta water, then tossed in pesto. 

You can make pesto “in situ” on our fabulous Liguria cooking vacations

3. Best Seafood of the Italian Riviera

Fried seafood in cones on the street of Riomaggiore, Italy

Liguria is unbeatable for its seafood, but the anchovies in particular are not to be missed. They are often eaten on their own, tossed in olive oil or deep fried, but are just as frequently consumed in pasta dishes or on focaccia.

One would also be remiss not to buy a seafood cone to eat while sitting on one of the benches overlooking the coast. Sold out of stalls and booths by the water, these paper cones contain fried anchovies, calamari, baby squid, and other freshly caught fish that are skewered and served with a lemon wedge.

4. The Uses of Pecorino Cheese

This salty sheep’s cheese pairs well with the aromatic and zesty white wine of the region. It is also best enjoyed wrapped in fresh prosciutto and drizzled with a local olive oil, then topped with a slice of fresh pear.

Pecorino is traditional to the region and cured in salt or brine for 6 to 12 months before serving. This young cheese has a hard, crumbly texture and sharp flavor, similar to parmesan but with a more aromatic and acidic palate.


 5. What is Frisceu? Fried Dough!

Fried dough, or frisceu, is a simple Italian appetizer made from a yeast-based dough that is allowed to rise for an hour before being torn into bite-sized pieces and deep fried in hot oil.

Ingredients such as anchovies, rosemary, basil, egg, marjoram, or onion might be added to the dough before cooking as well. Sweet frisceu– made with raisins and dusted with sugar– is also popular during holidays, but less common the rest of the year.

Cook delicious Ligurian dishes with us on our Best Genoa and Portofino Culinary Vacations.

Traditional Dishes of Liguria

Liguria also produces excellent ravioli and other stuffed pastas such as gattafin, a deep fried ravioli filled with onion, spinach, cheese, eggs, and herbs. One can also indulge in Panissa, which is a fried dough made from chickpea flour.

The region is also prolific for its lemons, which are prominently featured in local recipes. Citrus tarts and sweet pastries are usually served with hot espresso or tea. 

For those in search of stunning views and incredible food, Liguria is one destination you can’t miss!

By Chloe Dubisch

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