Massimo Travaglini, starting over, from Fokaccia

After the flood that destroyed his pizzeria in Brignole, he started up again, focusing on the Genovese classic

Massimo Travaglini

Massimo Travaglini

Liguria is a beautiful and unlucky land, too often devastated by an unfriendly nature. Yet the people of Liguria – stuck like rocks to their coast – always know how to rise again and move on. In fact, they aim even higher. So while on television and on social networks painful images of the two damaged Riviere appeared, speaking with Massimo Travaglini of the success of his format dedicated to a gourmet and contemporary take on Ligurian focaccia was not ill-timed. In fact, it’s a call to action.

After working in the bread-making sector for many years – a job that led him to travel around the world, and made him particularly sensitive to novelties – in 2009 with his wife Nina he opened Briciole, a pizzeria and delicatessen not too far from Brignole station. Destroyed by the floods that hit the town in 2011 and in 2014, they faced a difficult choice: should they stay and start from scratch, or go abroad in search for luck? They took the former road, not forgetting the idea of taking Genovese focaccia – a culinary pride of the town and a jewel crown of Travaglini’s – abroad as well.

This is how Fokaccia - Italia cooking and lounge was born: a nice restaurant in the centre of the town, a short walk from the Carlo Felice theatre, focused on high quality food, modern but upscale and with a strong identity. «Starting over at 45 was hard, but we decided to stay here, though with a different concept. Our restaurant is an urban place, it’s open from morning to night. Our varied clientele appreciates quality, and it’s the perfect model to export to other towns and abroad. We make all our flour-based products, from pasta to focacce, ourselves. Differentiation is important and these days you can only do so by choosing high quality», Travaglini explains.

So he placed his bet on Genovese focaccia, and fine-tuned a “secret” recipe. It’s unique but can be repeated, and is focused on good ingredients and digestibility. «The choice of flour is crucial, and then of course there’s the extra virgin olive oil which must be light and delicate». As for the former ingredient, he uses Unica (Petra 5037), which results in a crispy and light product, while for the wholewheat focaccia, which are also available to take away as the base for filled sandwiches, he uses Petra 9

«It’s a revolutionary focaccia, the wheat flavour is prominent», says Massimo, who teaches his tricks at the Scuola del Molino. Even the toppings for his focacce – actually, fokacce – are revolutionary, and available in many versions. They give the dough a special nuance. For instance, take the one with squid ink or with spices. So in the menu, on top of surf and turf dishes, you can find items such as Fokaccia with ginger and bisque of prawns from Santa Margherita with prawns fried in brandy and mixed lettuce,Fokaccia with buffalo milk stracciatella and white truffleFokaccia with burnt wheat and cream of taggiasche olives, Spanish salami and fig compote orFokaccia with squid ink, with Red King salmon marinated in teriyaki with oranges, lettuce and caviar.

«I believe this is the new frontier for focaccia, a perfect product for Genoa and not just for Genoa. I noticed a strong interest abroad too, from Kazakhstan to the United States». Indeed, after a second restaurant soon to open, a perfect place for events in town, and a restaurant in Milan, he’s strongly focused on crossing the Italian border. Those who don’t give up, go far.

Fokaccia - Italia cooking and lounge
largo San Giuseppe 2, Genova
Tel. +39 010 561587

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

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Luciana Squadrilli

a journalist born in Naples now living in Rome, she tries to make her three passions meet: eating, travelling and writing

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