The capital of Italy's Liguria region, Genoa is a picturesque stop on any journey through northern Italy. As the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, the city is steeped in history and maritime traditions to rival any other Italian Riviera coastal city. A trip to Genoa, Italy is not complete without visiting some of the iconic piazzas with towering fountains, the black-and-white-striped Cathedral, or any of the city's 19th-century buildings.
When it comes to food in Genoa, the city is what some might call typical of Italy, with a penchant for mostly Italian food. Pasta, focaccia, pizza, roasted meats, and fried fish are all readily available in the restaurants, cafes, and bars that line the streets. But, if you want to get something to go or snack while you sightsee, then a trip to one of the best street food stalls in Genoa is a must. Grab a bite and head out on a walking adventure or hike along the coast for amazing views while you eat. Genoa's claim to fame in the culinary realm can be summed up in two words: pesto and focaccia. Both were invented here, and the local chefs take these dishes very seriously. As a result, you can expect some of the best pesto you've ever had made with Genovese basil and the finest flatbread around that's delicious plain or dressed up.
Prior to starting your street food tour of Genoa, make sure you have both hands free to eat. Head to a Bounce luggage storage in Genoa to have them take care of your belongings. It's safe, secure, and affordable. Besides, who wants to be worried about their bags when you're sampling the most flavorful focaccia with pesto that you've ever had?
The best street food vendors in Genoa
Focaccia & Co
The Genovese love food, like all Italians, but when it comes to street food, focaccia seems to win out every time. While you'll find tons of hole-in-the-wall focaccerias in town, one of the best is Focaccia & Co on Via degli Orefici. It's just a three-minute walk from the San Lorenzo Cathedral and less than ten minutes on foot from Piazza Corvetto. When you explore the historic center of Genoa, you're bound to pass this place at least once. Take our advice and stop at the counter for a generous slice of fresh focaccia or two. The reason this place boasts some of the best focaccia is due to the high-quality ingredients, generous portions, excellent selection, and prime location.
You can get everything from plain cheese focaccia to one loaded with tasty toppings, like potatoes, olives, cured meats, and Italian peppers. Focaccia is Italian street food at its finest, and one bite will make you a fan for life. The food is easily portable and enjoyed al fresco. Aside from these flatbreads seasoned with salt and olive oil, Focaccia & Co has an enviable selection of pastries fresh from the oven.
You may be surprised that you can find Polish food in Genoa, but you certainly can. Kowalski on Via de Giustiniani, which is a five-minute walk from the central Piazza de Ferrari and the Centro Storico De Ferrari metro station, has you covered. This cozy restaurant serves some of the best pierogies, goulash, and borscht in Europe (outside of Poland, of course).
Choose to dine inside or out and if you can stop by during the aperitivo hour, usually around 5 pm, they offer tasty drinks and food specials. Kowalski also has an affordable kid's menu and plenty of wine and cocktails for the adults. The decor here is quirky with walls covered in records, warm orange color on the walls, and a bar with shiny beer taps. Even if you can only stay for one drink, it's worth the trip; a meal at Kowalski is always an experience.
Just off the main thoroughfare, Via XX Settembre, Shapla is an ideal spot to grab a quick bite of savory Indian food. Another break from traditional Italian food, the starters are some of the best Genoa street food. From vegetable and beef samosas to traditional pakoras made with chickpea flour, it's easy to get something flavorful as takeout. If you prefer a sit-down meal, they have a dining room for that, and their curries and tikkas are all worth trying.
The issue you're going to have at Shapla is deciding only one or two things to order. To say the menu is extensive might be an understatement, and you can get your paneer, meat, or fried fish as a balti, vindaloo, palak, or masala to name but a few. Check out their chef specials and main specials before you commit to anything, and don't forget the rice and naan.
Rooster Street Food Rotisserie
Also in the heart of the Genoa Old Town action near the Piazza de Ferrari, you'll find the delicious chicken offered by Rooster Street Food. If it's more convenient, they also have a location just off Via XX Settembre and close to the Mercato Orientale. Grab a quick bite from their menu of rotisserie chicken, french fries, and salads. The chicken is the main feature, and you can try the spicy version with chili pepper, the classic with rosemary and olives, or the citrus made using lemons and oranges. The Virgin Zena veggie panini is a great option for fans of vegetables and vegetarians. It has tomatoes, grilled eggplant, and Genoa's legendary pesto. And, in the same vein, Rooster offers two different options for a veggie burger made with the Beyond Meat plant-based patty.
Pretty much everything sold at Rooster street food is portable and easy to eat on the go. The tender chicken, reasonable prices, and menu variety are what keep the loyal customers coming back again and again. When you visit Genoa, this place is a must.
Mexican food may be the ultimate street food to some, but in Genoa, this type of cuisine is rare. Luckily, you don't have to give up on tacos and burritos just because you're in Italy. From pork to chicken to beef and beans, Mr. Taco in Genoa, Italy can accommodate most diets. They offer vegetarian and vegan options, spicy or hot, and everything else in between a mere five minutes from Piazza de Ferrari.
The menu is simple and easy to read and will have enough selection for most visitors, even the picky ones. They serve cold beer in recognizable brands along with a selection of craft brews. Don't leave here without trying the gelato dessert tacos, or you're bound to regret it.
Pizzeria da Pino
A list of street food stalls in Genoa can't be complete without some real Italian favorites, like pasta and pizza. Pizzeria da Pino serves both and it's also a short walk from the center of Genoa Old Town. The pizza options are plentiful here, but this is a great opportunity to try some of Genoa's famous pesto as your pizza sauce. Made fresh constantly, the pesto at Pizzeria da Pino is definitely a highlight. Using the finest olive oil, pine nuts, and Genovese basil, the flavor that comes out of somewhat basic ingredients is unforgettable.
Aside from the pesto, any pizza you order here will be cooked to perfection and have you stopping by multiple times when you visit Genoa.
Where to find the best Genoa street food spots
Genoa is a relatively condensed city, so the best street food spots are somewhat limited to the Centro Storico and the Mercato Orientale. On the plus side, the small footprint of the city makes it very easy to get around and easy to decide where to stay in Genoa.
MOG Mercato Orientale
With an expansive food hall upstairs and a market full of groceries downstairs, it's likely that MOG Mercato Orientale is already on your list of things to do in Genoa. The market leads to Via XX Settembre and is a fun place to spend a few hours taking in the sights, sounds, and, obviously, smells. Rub shoulders with locals picking up their fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, and meat while you snack on one of the many tasty options.
If you like to be in the heart of the hustle and bustle of a thriving local market, opt to try some of the street food or sit-down meals in one of the restaurants that have kitchens and counters in the center of the market. The atmosphere is certainly part of the charm here, but the food is also very good.
As you may have guessed from the locations of the best street food vendors in Genoa in this guide, the absolute best place for street food in town is the historic city center. The area around Piazza de Ferrari and Piazza Corvetto is particularly good and the options branch out from there. You'll find a high density of restaurants in general here, and many of them offer street food in one form or another. In this one area, you can try many international foods as well as traditional focaccia, pizza, pasta, and panini. Make sure you walk around as much as you can to help burn off all those extra calories you'll be consuming, and hiking in Genoa is a fun way to spend a day outside the city center.
Street Food festivals in Genoa, Italy
If you happen to visit Genoa in June, when the annual Suq Festival is typically held, consider yourself lucky. Head to the Porto Antico District and the Piazza delle Feste to sample up to 15 different cuisines and participate in workshops about food. There are concerts and arts and crafts for the kids, which makes this a great place to take the whole family. Learn more about the food traditions of other cultures while you take your taste buds on a world tour.
Sagra del Pane e Dell' Olio
For ten days between November and December, the nearby town of Sestri Levante celebrates two things beloved by the whole country. The Sagra del Pane e Dell'Olio, which translates to the Festival of Bread and Oil, is a fun way to see how the precious oil is made. The local mills invite locals and tourists to sample their world-famous olive oil right from the source, and a trip here is definitely worth the 45-minute drive along the coast. You can also cut out the middle man and purchase olive oil directly from the olive pressers, and these unique bottles make excellent souvenirs and gifts.
The Fish Festival of St. Fortunato
Fried fish is a Genovese diet staple, and the locals gather to celebrate the patron saint, called St. Fortunato, annually in May. If your schedule works out, head to the quaint fishing village of Camogli on the west side of the Portofino peninsula for the fish festival. The village is only about half an hour away, and if you enjoy fish and seafood, you really can't go wrong with a trip here. Aside from the picturesque scenery, there's no chance you'll walk away without a full belly.
Most people who visit Italy know that the food is going to be good. In fact, that's one of the main reasons tourists flock to the country in droves. And, although Genoa may not be the first city that comes to mind for the best Italian cuisine, it can keep up with some of the best. As the birthplace of pesto, focaccia, and many other classic Italian foods, the cuisine here has always been innovative.
Nowadays, locals and tourists can enjoy food from many different cultures in one small area, a somewhat rare thing in Italy as a whole. Street food in Genoa may have a little ways to go in terms of more food trucks and street food-specific festivals, but when they do beef up the street food scene, you know it's going to be amazing.