Boccadasse is a tiny fishing village located at the far end of Corso Italia, the long promenade along the seafront.
I managed to walk there in under 50 minutes from my hotel in Brignole (the taxi back cost €19).
It was built by Gino Coppedè, my favourite Stile Liberty (Italian Art Nouveau) architect. The villa is inspired by fifteenth century Florentine Gothic and is very typical of his personal style. It’s very similar to Villino delle Fate in Quartiere Coppedè.
These pictures are just of the gatehouse which looks like something out of Hansel & Gretel.
It’s generally straight all the way along Corso Italia, so you know when you’ve arrived at Boccadasse when the lungomare takes a curve to the left. Turn right at the church on the bend (you’ll see this nice carving above the door) and go down the hill till you get to the tiny cove.
There are a few places that look nice dotted around the beach area but I went for this Cadogan recommended place.
Vittorio al Mare (Advanced B), 1 Belvedere E.Firpo, Tel. 010 376 0141, www.vittorioalmare.it Closed Monday
Described as expensive and formal by Cadogan, I even put a shirt on to come here. I needn’t have worried though as the waitress who greeted me was wearing an interesting combination of trainers and spray-on jeans and a formal black waiter’s waistcoat and white shirt.
I usually avoid this kind of place but decided to come for the seafood and the great views. It’s a popular spot for amateur photographers for taking pictures of ocean spray as the waves hit the breakwater. In the photo above, the salt encrusted window acted as a filter, giving the shot its ethereal quality.
The restaurant also owns the pizzeria downstairs where you can sit outside and eat more cheaply should you prefer. It was a bit too chilly for me though on this particular May evening. I hadn’t booked despite it being a Saturday night, but still got in without any difficulty as I arrived at 7.30pm before the Italian customers.
The soundtrack involved piano versions of such classics as ‘Bridge over troubled waters’, ‘I believe in angels’ and my favourite ‘Con te partiro’ which had me craving for the famous vocal version. It puts a lump in my throat every time I hear it.
To keep costs down I went for the three course €30 menu. The first course was a plate of grilled baby squid which were great but as ever in Italy, served on a cold plate (A-).
To follow, Spaghetti ai Frutti di Mare which involved some perfectly al dente pasta, more sliced squid, a solitary prawn, eight mussels and ten vongole, only half of which were open. I thouroughly enjoyed it but the loss of half my clams and the fact it was all cold in a matter of minutes meant my score dropped to just B+.
I matched the seafood with a bottle of crisp Vermentino (Ruffino 2011) which was very good (B+).
The waitress recommended her favourite dessert; Sable con Crema Marscapone e Frutti di Bosco, or sweet cream cheese with strawberries and raspberries and a couple of French biscuits (sable) to scoop it all up (A). With this a glass of Moscato sweet wine.
The final bill, with a complementary glass of barrique (an aged dark grappa) came to €58.
I liked the friendly service here but would probably check out one of the other places around the inlet if I were to come again.
I’d definitely recommend Boccadasse as a nice picturesque spot to come for a meal after a walk by the sea.