The Mercato Orientale or Oriental Market to you and I is Genoa’s premier fresh food market located right in the heart of the city. Good Italian markets never seem to cross my radar as they are so unpredictable. Many districts hold a certain market on a certain day but here in Genoa the Orientale is open every day except sunday.
We had a booking at Il Genovese restaurant just across the road so before sitting down to lunch we took a walk around the market. If a taste of real Liguria is what you have travelled to Genoa for then here is a good place to start. Some of the freshest food that we have ever seen is right here. Bunches of basil – famous in these parts – are dark green in colour, not the lighter green that we have back home in the U.K. Much of this would end up on our plate later on in the form of pesto.
The seafood is incredible here. Fresh from the nearby coast with an abundance of choice. I counted three large stalls specialising in seafood. Then of course there’s the meat with huge Tuscan-style steaks ready to be made into Bistecca alla Fiorentina or ‘Bollito’ cuts which are tougher pieces of meat, mainly beef, for stewing.
Fresh pasta and gnocchi was being sold in abundance at many stalls with the locals queuing up to take home their lunch. There’s also the stalls that you see in most markets on the continent selling dried foods such as porcini mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes and herbs. Towards the left side of the market you will come across a large number of cheese vendors selling the famous and not-so famous cheeses of Italy.
So why the Oriental? Well it’s nothing to do with selling Chinese sausage or bunches of Pak Choy. The market is based in the east of the city equidistant between Brignole station and De Ferrari station in the city centre. East is it’s location just as the Orient is on the map of the world.
This is definitely a place worth checking out. If you have an interest in food or just want to come here for a quick bite to eat the market has you covered. Nearby is the fantastic Il Genovese restaurant which we visited shortly after touring the Mercato Orientale – a good idea to make you hungry before your lunch!
Opening times: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 0730-1300, 1530-1930
Thursday, Friday, Saturday 0700-1930
Nearest Metro: Brignole