Genoa’s old centre is filled with a maze of streets with a different surprise seemingly up each one. We had gone in search of dinner through the centre and came across a decent looking restaurant with a huge window at the front opening out into the street. The menu looked enticing so we decided to stick it on the list for the following day. This is the place we now know as E Prie Rosse.
Via di Ravecca is a through route from the metro at Sant’Agostino to the Porta Soprana – two big towers joined by an arch forming a gateway. Ideally positioned around halfway down the street in the shadow of the neighbouring buildings sits E Prie Rosse, a typical Genovese restaurant and just out of the way enough to be considered a hidden gem.
We hadn’t read reviews before we sat down for lunch here. Travellers instinct took over after seeing the locals walking in for an early lunch and a direct view of the kitchen opposite the entrance. To the right sits a bar area where the friendly staff showed us to our table in the adjoining room not too far away from the table that opens out into the street.
We got the vibe straight away that this wasn’t going to be a tourist hangout. In fact we can’t recall seeing anyone who wasn’t Italian, a common occurrence during our time in Genoa’s restaurants. The waitress spoke in clear Italian which was a big help and weirdly we could understand every word – even the specials! Maybe we had spent too long in Italy by this point…
Spotting a board of meats and cheeses took our fancy instantly so we ordered one to share between us at €22 (£19.42). For main courses we opted for the pesto lasagne and spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce both at €8.50 (£7.50). To wash that lot down with we got a two large beers at €5.50 (£4.85) a piece. Service here is nicely paced and if you get a table lucky enough to peek into the kitchen you can see your food being prepared.
The meat and cheese board arrived looking very good indeed showcasing the greatest hits when it comes to Italian delicatessen. Salami and ham are regulars on a cold platter but certain other things were a real surprise. Nduja, a calabrian smoked, spicy sausage, has gained popularity in the U.K – kind of the Italian answer to the Spanish chorizo. This was placed next to sheets of lardo di colonnata – cured pork fat with a smoky hit.
A fanned pear next to a pot of honey, a selection of little known cheeses from around Italy, all varied in their tastes and textures. This board was a delight to munch through along with the quality bread supplied. The pear, cheese and honey combo was to die for. Lardo is quite subtle and melts in the mouth similar to the fat on Parma ham. Nduja was nice but very intense on the smoke flavour. It’s worth mentioning also the effort put in on the presentation of a very simple plate done exceptionally well.
It’s always nice after you have demolished a plate that big to have a well-earned break before the main course arrives. The restaurant began to fill up in the gap between courses which gave us time to see what other people were ordering, many were going for the traditional pasta dishes. Speaking of pasta our two main courses were up next and both looked simple, fresh and smelled incredible.
Appearances can be deceptive. The spaghetti and fresh tomato sauce looked like exactly that. Fresh pasta, vibrant red sauce garnished with a sprig of basil. The taste though was rich in tomato flavour and a joy to eat. Sometimes pasta can get a bit heavy but this was a lot lighter than it appeared. The pesto lasagne was more of an arrangement of pappardelle with green beans and fresh basil but the pesto looked as if it had been made using the more traditional method of pounding by pestle and mortar as opposed to the smooth sauce served at Il Genovese.
The pesto on this dish was absolute heaven – even better than Il Genovese, something I never thought possible. The pasta was light and everything tasted so fresh which was becoming a recurring theme with Ligurian cooking. We haven’t had food this good in Italy since a trip to the Amalfi Coast way back in 2009. Liguria was beginning to stand out as a very underrated part of the country
To get the bill here you just go to the bar where the staff calculate your total while you do your best not to keep staring into the kitchen beside you. Our bill came out at €53 (£46) but in an act of real kindness the lady altered the total and wrote €50 (£44) instead. A really generous thing to do and much appreciated.
If you happen to be a non-Italian speaker then that’s not a problem here at E Prie Rosse. The menu has English translations underneath each dish and the staff are friendly enough to help you through the ordering process if you need it. The food here is sublime, easily one of the highlights of the trip. What we had was first rate but we really want to go back and sample more of this wonderful restaurant’s offerings. When in Genoa you have simply got to eat here.
Opening times: Daily 1230-1430, 1930-2300
Nearest Metro: S.Agostino