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May 6, 2011 06:52 PM

Allergic to Seafood in Genoa


I´m Mariana, this is my first post in Chowhounds, though I´ve been reading some of the boards for a while.

I´m planning my honeymoon which will be in July. Me and my fiancée Renato, we´re going to spend 28 days in Italy. I´m a bit of an obssessive planer, so I´ve collected info not only about where we´ll be going, but also of museums worth seeing, curiosities, and, and for that this board was incredible helpful, restaurants.

For most of our planning, reading old posts was well enough. Rome and Florence... there must be a hundred recomendations about them or more, even Palermo and Abruzzo were easy, but in the end, I ended with one big doubt: Genoa.

We´re going to spend two days in Genoa, and one place we´ll certainly go to is Gran Ristoro. I´ve planned the days of the trip with one gelato stop and one normal meal, as I do remember how big were the servings in Italy from my tennagehood trip there (I went to Veneza, Rome and Firenze then).

There are a lot of recomendations for Genoa, but I do have one problem that makes it all a little more difficult: I´m allergic to seafood.

All seafood. And not just a little bit allergic, depending on the kind of sea food, it´s spending some days at the hospital allergic. Ranging from having headaches and nausea if I eat shrimp to "ok, we have about 20 minutes to reach the hospital" if I bite into something that came near moluscs like oysters, mussels or calamari. Crabs, lobsters, cartilaginous fish, bony fish, all of them make me sick, sickier in that order with shrimp and moluscs in the two extremes (I have parents that didn´t believe in allergies. Fortunally, after the oyster incident, my daddy started believing me).

Almost all recomendations for Genoa centered in seafood. I do understand that this is what Ligurian cuisine is about, but...

The research I´ve made so far showed me that Ligurian cuisine has non-seafood dishes, like Troffiette al Pesto Genovese, Pansotti al Sugo di Noci, Farinatta and Torta Pascalina (which probably can´t be had in July, but the descriptions I read were yumy).

Can anyone recomend restaurants in Genoa that are good in non-seafood dishes? If they´re tradicional restaurants that have vegetarian, or meat, or chicken plates also besides the seafood, that´s great (my fiancee may get the seafood if he likes, he´ll only get no kisses until he brushes his teeth). Being near the Lantern, the Aquarium or the Old port are pluses also.

I´m also allergic to incense and aromatized cigarretes (not common cigarretes, those aromatized clove or mint ones), and that allergy is really life threatning (I´ve been through four anaphylactic shocks and one cardiac arrest because of that particular allergy), so if the restaurant uses incense as part of it´s decoration, it´s also off the list.

That may seem strange to mention, but for some weird reason, vegetarian restaurants love to burn incense here in Brasil where I live. I don´t know if that´s true for Italy also (in which case vegetarians restaurants may be dangerous to me), or if it´s just a brazilian weirdness.

Thank you very much,

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  1. If you want a great little restaurant (and cheap too) try Trattorie Da Maria on one of the little Vico's (lanes) off Via XX Aprile, just down from the opera house. Last time we ate there, no seafood at all on the menu. Here's the New York Times review from many years ago.

    Also if you check the NY Times link below, you will find some restaurants specializing in non-seafood.

    Oh and I never ever smelt incense been burned at any restaurant in Italy! Not that I ever found a pure veggies one mind you. I am a semi-veg myself (but partial to good seafood) and have never had problem in any restaurant in Italy, just ask for sensa carne

    1. You're on the right track, with pesto, pansoti con salsa di noci, plus lots of stuffed vegetables (ripieni), farinata (chick pea pancakes), minestre, foccaccie, a dish called polpettone (not a large meatball but a baked dish like a shepherd's pie only with vegetables instead of lamb). There's meat, too: rabbit is popular, and " tocco" is the standard meat sauce for ravioli, which are also made with meat and cheese. Torta pasqualina might now be a year round dish, and there are other torte di verdure from the Ligurian countryside that should also be available. Slow Food recommends an old trattoria, Sa Pesta, for some of these dishes, in the historic center on via dei Giustiniani.

      Sa Pesta
      Via dei Giustiniani, 16,, Genoa, Liguria 16123, IT

      1. Thank you very much for your suggestions, I decided to include both of the trattorias in my Genoa tour.

        And thanks for the info about incense in restaurants in Italy, Villasampaguita. I´m glad that burning incense isn´t a widespread habit there.

        I believe that this incense thing in veggie restaurants is a brazilian custom. Mostly the ideia is to create a "natural" or hippie atmosfere. But from 12 veggie restaurants I know about in São Paulo, where I live, only one doesn´t have the habit of burning incense in the salon (the owner of this lone one says that incense burning masks the smell of the food, which is the one that´s really important in a restaurant. I heartly agree with her).

        2 Replies
        1. re: Umbrios

          I think your research will stand you in good stead. I have never smelled clove cigarettes or incense in restaurants in Italy - though there may be some "hippie" dens where this takes place Italians are too food oriented to mess with the atmosphere in their restaurants - and there is no smoking of any kind in restaurants any more.

          To supplement the info you have so far, here are some restaurants in an around Genoa that might interest you, several around the port.. There is info for each, and most entries list some dishes. Hope we will hear back about your trip!

          1. re: jen kalb

            Jan, IMO even ageing or young wannabe hippies would not like to have incense burning in a restaurant, we are in Italy after all where food is an art form :-)

            And so sorry clove and any other type of cigarettes are banned in restaurants by law. BTW have you ever had a clove cigarette? I used to live in Indonesia where Kreteks are widely smoked, and I think they are horrible!

        2. I am going to Genova as well in late May this year after a week in Rome. Some tips from Mario Batali here:

          3 Replies
          1. re: jostber

            Just to add to this thread for future reference:

            David Downie's comprehensive food guide to Genoa, entitled Food and Wine of the Italian Riviera and Genoa talks about many non-seafood choices.

            And this is a very useful website for knowing which restaurants in Genova offer many many dishes other than fish, or Italian cuisines from regions other than Liguria:


            1. re: barberinibee

              It's been about 3 years but we had a truly fabulous and obviously memorable meal, at Enoteca Infernotto (via macaggi, 64, tel 0105703250). The meal included a wonderful salumi platter and bright green pesto. Take the wine advice from the host--the pairings were just great!

              We ate twice at Da Maria since it was about a block from our hotel and it was just OK. I think of it as Ligurian diner food--definitely worth a visit and inexpensive but nothing sensational.

              1. re: jangita

                adding links for Da Maria and Enoteca Infernotto

                Enoteca Infernotto
                Via Giuseppe Macaggi, Genova, Liguria 16121, IT

                Da Maria
                Vico Testadoro,14r, Genova, Liguria 16123, IT