There’s a common belief in the travel community that vacations should be all about you, and what you like to do. Stay in the type of accommodations you like. Do the things that interest you. Eat the things you enjoy the most in the setting you feel most comfortable in. “What type of food do you like?” is a common response to someone seeking dining advice on the travel boards. It rarely makes sense to me. But knowing exactly what you want and getting it when you want it, doesnt sound so wrong. Some may argue its living life to the fullest. In fact I’m often jealous of people who travel with their favorite cigars, coffee, rum, prunes. Yes, prunes. Prunes give people comfort.
But then there’s the camp that believes that vacation is all about experiencing different. The camp that enjoys adventure, stepping outside the comfort zone, and generating memories. The camp that leaves their prunes behind. If you are in that camp, you most likely enjoy places like Cavour 21. Oy, I didnt mean to go all over-dramatic on you. I’m just talking about a super casual restaurant in Genoa. Watching too much Jessica Jones lately, and all that narration is beginning to get to me.
Although we’ve been to local institutions as such (one is Coimbra, Portugal comes to mind) Cavour is as genuine as they come. Traditional Genoa food, in a rustic, no nonsense environment, with too good to be true prices. Stepping inside feels like stepping back in time. For us at least. For the locals it may feel like Wednesday.
You start this adventure before you even enter the place. About 15-30 minutes before in fact. To ensure a table its recommended to come before they open, otherwise you get an approx time slot, or risk missing out. If its lunch time, and they run out of space and time, they can put you on a list for dinner. Once they open (may not be on time), everyone surrounds the list reader like he is about to read the chosen names in a high school play, and about to give them free Focaccia. Then he goes “Prego” and bam, a mad rush inside. You are shown to your table or table that you’ll share with others.
While you wait outside, its hard to miss the “Pesto World Championship” proudly displayed on their front. And unless you just spent a week in Genoa, its hard to pass on it. It comes with the traditional Trofie, along with potato, green beans, and it’s outstanding. But as good as it was, the Pansoti, Ligurian Ravioli with walnut sauce was the real revelation. It’s a local specialty and unlike anything I’ve had before. Stuffed with wild herbs, its creamy and ultra nutty. Delicious even though the “Pansa” which means belly wasn’t super evident here. They suppose to look like Ravioli with fat beer bellies.
We were on a mission to eat as much seafood as possible in Luguria before moving inland for over a week. Lobster with Taglierini and tomato sauce was sufficiently flavorful, or divine once you factor the price (I dont remember the exact cost but trust me on this). Fried and grilled fresh seafood was all good, with the standouts being the shrimp and Langoustines. They get a pass for the forgettable desserts however. This is one of two particularly memorable meals in Genoa. The other being the great Rosmarino.