This Genoese institution has vintage charm

This elegant, family-run restaurant has been the bedrock of Genoa’s dining scene for 80 years. She may be an old lass, but she's not slowing down: the service is as quick-witted as ever and, for an introduction to elevated Ligurian cooking, the kitchen has few peers at this pricepoint. Look out for anything with the house-made regional speciality pesto alla genovese – sublime.

via XX Settembre 20

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Il Masetto

Get your hands on some hot buns at Il Masetto

In a city not really known for a particularly long roster of trendy cheap eats, this place stands out as one of the most buzzed-about go-tos in town. Il Masetto flips up brilliant, low-budget burgers that give the fast-food classic a well-sourced Italian rework to reliably filling effect. Both patty and bun are well worth the hype and, by starting at €3 a pop, represent ridiculous value.  

Via di Canneto il Lungo 111r

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Soho Restaurant & Fishworks

You'll find a sea of flavour at this part-fishmonger, part-restaurant

The modern chintz in some areas of this multi-room seafood specialist might be a bit much for some but, happily, the consistent standard of food at Soho's Michelin-rated part-restaurant, part-fishmonger more than picks up the slack. The well-presented maxi crudité di mare (raw seafood platter) is pretty good value at €25 and the list of fish-forward pasta dishes like fettuccine con scampi rarely disappoint.

Via Al Ponte Calvi 20

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Pasticceria Profumo

As well as producing some of the best gelato in town, the owners of this two-store chainlet do the best dolce in Genoa at their petite, Pinterest-happy pasticceria (a shop flogging pastries and cakes). You'll find a mix of contemporary and classic pastries here, including the festive regional speciality of pandolce antica Genova (fruit cake). The dried, chocolate-covered oranges slices are also pure, fragrant happiness.   

Via del Portello 2

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Locanda Tortuga

Ravioli of dreams

The OMG-grade focaccia al formaggio (cheese focaccia) is the absolute must-order at this cute, under-the-radar restaurant on via di Ravecca, but pretty much everything else on the menu here elicits the same coos from the handful of weekenders fortunate enough to stumble on it. The house-made tortelli di zucca e amaretto (pumpkin ravioli with crushed amaretti biscuits) are practically what mealtimes in Italy are made for.

Via di Ravecca 13

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Quelli Dell Acciughetta

A colourful offering at this forward-thinking restaurant

Young, hard-scrabbling chef Simone Vesuviano and partner Giorgia Losi joined forces to launch this absolute gem of a restaurant in a once off-key part of town. Its bold mandate sought to recalibrate the rep of Liguarian cooking and hey, it’s working: popular with Genoa’s creative class, the ingredient-centric food here segues artfully between classic and contemporary with a forward-thinking wine list that shows similar vim. In other words: we're smitten. 

Corso Andrea Podesta 51r

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It’s pure madness to come to Italy and not have at least one gelato. The best in Genoa? Gelatina on via Garibaldi – close to the Palazzo Bianco – comes top not just for its brilliant ice cream, but also for its compassionate hiring policy. Sure, you should try the shouldn't-work-but-does basil gelato, but hats off to owner Martina Francesconi for only employing people from disadvantaged groups such as refugees and the disabled. 

Via Garibaldi 22

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Il Genovese

Don't skip the pesto pasta here

For a classic, only-in-Liguria eating experience, this family-run regional specialist has been around for decades and does some of the best pesto in town (owner Roberto Panizza also runs the World Pesto Championship – seriously). What to order? Well, if you somehow manage to sidestep a creamy-rich pesto pasta – rookie error, that – then the savoury Ligurian torte should be your primary beeline.

Via Galata 35r

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Food-wise, there aren’t too many reasons to head port-side in Genoa with one significant exception: this no-frills, French-style bar à huitres (oyster bar) down by the Maritime Museum that does a pretty simple menu of stunning, stacked seafood platters (from €23). Here, you'll find a reassuring crowd of locals who flock to the outdoor tables most nights of the week come apertivo hour.

Calata Andalò Dinegro 4 

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La Brinca

This farmhouse trattoria attracts high praise

Sure, it’s out of town but you should absolutely consider adding this farmhouse trattoria in the forested mountain village of Ne to your eating itinerary. This spot enjoys a cult-like devotion for chef Sergio Circella’s hearty, home-spun Liguran cooking and its 1,000-plus bottle wine list. Worth the drive? Well, being the recipient of a Michelin Bib Gourmand makes it one of the best trattorias in Italy. Praise doesn’t come much higher – so book well ahead for lunch and make a day of it.  

Via Campo di Ne 58

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