Genoa – off Via Roma

Via Roma, leading down to Piazza Ferrari, is one of the poshest shopping streets in town. At the top of the street at Piazza Corvetto is Confitteria Pasticceria Mangini, a belle époque grand café (since 1876). where you can sit outside.

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The interior features lots of mirrors and chandeliers and the waiters are in formal black and white. Sounds forbidding but it’s not as snooty as some of these places can be. Click on the photo to see it properly.
The café sells its own sweets and cakes. I got myself this dangerous looking chocolate slug to go with my Macchiato.

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Behind the café, on the left of Via Roma as you walk down, is the back entrance of Galleria Mazzini, built in 1870, which is a smaller version of the Galleria Emmanuele in Milan or Galleria Umberto in Naples, which in turn were modelled on the passages of Paris.

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It’s not all posh around here though…

Da Maria (Elementary B), 14r Vico Testadore (a dark alley off XXV Aprile, which runs parallel to Via Roma), Tel. 010 581 080

Mentioned on the Guardian ‘Been There’ site and in Cadogan, this is a super cheap traditional trattoria. Primarily a lunch place (Monday to Saturday 11.45 – 14.45), I must have walked past here in the evening at least five times to see if it was open (only Wednesday and Thursday nights it seems) before finally catching lunch on a Friday when I had a half day. It was very busy at 1pm when I arrived so I ended up in the fourth room on the second floor.
The handwritten menu was quite hard to read so I just went for anything ‘alle Genovese’. To start Minestrone alle Genovese, a murky soup with I presume pesto stirred in. It was fine, but nothing special (B).

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Next Polpettone alle Genovese, a mistake as I don’t have much luck with dishes starting with the suffix ‘polp-‘. I order in the hope of getting some nice meatballs (polpettine) but sometimes end up with baby octopus (polipetti) or in this case a kind of local meatloaf. It was dry and unappealing (C) as were the cold overcooked chips that came with it (C-).

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I can’t remember what the pudding was called but it was perhaps a kind of tiramisu or rum soaked sponge with icing and a glace cherry, edible but unspecial (C+)

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With a quartino of rough house red (C-) and a harsh grappa (C-), the bill came to an amazing €15!
I went back a second time and spent €25, due to forking out for a half decent Gavi (B) which was half the price of what you’d pay in other restaurants. There was no way of chilling the wine at the table (they’re not that kind of place) but my friendly server kept it in the fridge for me and brought it out every time my glass needed filling.

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Again the food was no great shakes (C or C+) but it’s perfectly edible, although I wouldn’t go as far as this article does in singing its praises. All the same, Maria’s is a Genoese institution so just going is an experience in itself.

The continuation of Via Roma from Piazza de Ferrari (considered the heart of the city) is the porticoed Via XX Settembre.

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There are some fabulous old buildings along here, with big brand fashion shops on their ground floors.

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I especially love these art nouveau sculptures on the corner of Via XX Settembre with Via Ugo Foscalo.

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If you turn left then right here, you come to the pedestrianised Via San Vincenzo, yet another nice shopping street.

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