The Italian Job: The Cakes

It has been mentioned that I haven’t talked about cake as much as had been anticipated. When I took a year out to travel, I did a monthly review of the cakes that I ate in addition to the afternoon teas so, you’ve already had my opinion on afternoon here is one month’s work of cakes.

It does come with a caveat. Breakfast pretty much always comes with a cake or a sweet brioche or a doughnut piped full of the cream filling of your choice. Unless, really special, I am not counting those. I’m also not going to include the copious amounts of gelato and icecream that I ate. Nobody has time for that.

So, in chronological order rather than order of preference… here were my favourites, and no, it still doesn’t include all the cake I ate.

Sicilian Tiramisu – Sapority Cafe, Bergamo

Sicilian food is having a bit of a “thing” in Italy. Sicilian Street Food (arancini in particular but on a hot day, you can’t move in the stands selling granita) has taken off to such an extent that there is chain of stores now competing with the independent shops. The reviews can be vitriolic in the quest for authentic tastes of Sicily with people’s knowledge of and right to talk about Sicilian cuisine being challenged.

I found a Sicilian cafe, which came with a stamp of approval from an 87 year old woman saying the food took her back to her childhood. That was good enough for me.

Sicilian tiramisu – lighter than the usual tiramisu and a twist of pistachio cream. Absolutely beautiful. Verdict: 8.5/10

Lemon Yoghurt Cake – Cafe Murmuru, Bergamo

With hindsight, I think Bergamo was the hotspot for cakes (though Genova would also provide excellent competition). Turin was about chocolate, having invented the first solid chocolate and while pasticceri abound in every city, Bergamo seemed to offer more actual cake (not ganache, cream, or other filling).

Cafe Murmuru offered savoury breakfasts, on bagels, rather than dougnuts, but they also had a daily changing array of home baked cakes and the lemon yohurt cake just caught my eye.

Lemon is not a flavouring that I particularly favour – I don’t dislike it but I don’t usually choose it over other options. That seems to have changed on this trip – lemon icecream? I’m there.

A light and smooth cake with a sharp but not overpowering taste of lemon. The flavour contrasted fabulously with the texture. Verdict: 10/10

Sacher Torte – Gelateria Mancini, Sirmione

I walked from Desenzano to Garda, mostly following the lake path. It’s about a two hour walk and after a fairly damp and chilly afternoon in Sirimione, I was ready for a slice of cake and a coffee.

Gelateria Mancini is an old fashioned pasticceri and gelateria – many of the original fittings still in place. A woman was preparing three cakes at the counter and, while it may not be a traditional Italian cake, the sacher torte won.

Rich chocolate taste, moist and fairly light, in comparison with other sacher I have tried – it was like eating edible velvet. Verdict: 9/10

Chocolate Cake – Malcesine

After a cable car ride up and a hike back down Monte Baldo which, trust my kneecaps if not me, was a lot tougher than it sounds… I went for a another walk (there were limited options for transport) to find coffee and something to eat.

I wasn’t sure what I was hungry for but as soon as I made eye contact with this chocolate cake (yes another one) my decision was made.

This was one of the melting chocolate cakes that barely manages to rise. You risk something leaden in your stomach if this hasn’t been prepared well but when done so, it’s a work of beauty – perhaps not in appearance but definitely in taste. Verdict: 10/10

Chocolate Cake – Am Gleis, Soprabolzano

And so to more chocolate cake. Maybe it’s result of the proximity to Germany and Austria but Bolzano was all about the chocolate cake.

For completeness, I had dodged a rainstorm with this…

… but it’s this one I’m focusing on.

I’d stopped at this restaurant (Am Gleis) for lunch before walking the Freud Promenade from Soprabolzano to Collalbo and as I left I spotted the cakes. That cemented the plan for the afternoon.

I returned and had a slice. It was like a black forest gateau without the cream. It melted in the mouth and I can definitely recommend enjoying it with an Aperol Spritz.

This also enabled me to dodge a rainstorm. Verdict: 10/10

Chocolate Cake and Almond Tart – Pasticceria Liquoreria Marescotti, Genova

I didn’t eat them both on the same day. This place was so good I went back for a second visit.

Both tarts/cakes were eaten in a 13th Century building, in a pasticceri that was a chocolatier from 1780 until becoming the cafe in 1906. It closed in the late 1970s/80s but its interiors were left untouched for three decades when it reopened as a fabulous café. It is a gorgeous place to spend an afternoon.

My food selection (on my second trip) was heartily approved by the manager as VERY Genovese… slice of focaccia baked with sweet onions and a cappuccino…but I know it’s the almond tart and the chocolate cake you’re more interested in.

Both were made of almond flour and while the chocolate cake had a very unusual crumbly and crunchy texture, the almond tart (without jam) was one of the smoothest frangipane I’ve ever tasted though it may not appear so from the angle of the picture. Verdict: 10/10

Plus the cappuccino is excellent.

Tiramisu – Genova

Genova may have just been my all round favourite place to eat (for every meal). On this evening, I called at a Trattoria with a limited menu focused on freshly prepared ingredients. The owner talked the women at the next table through his recipe for pesto and came out of the kitchen brandishing a massive jar of the stuff.

It was when he said the tiramisu had been made that morning by his wife that my evening plan was decided. Rich, creamy but also surprising light. Perfect.

Verdict:11/10 (But I can’t remember the name of the place!)

Categories: Bergamo, Bolzano, Cake, Food, Genova, Italy, Lake Garda, Malcesine, Sirmione, The Italian JobTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. How amazing. Sicilian food is having a moment here never mind in Sicily. I need cake!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How amazing! Sicilian food is having a thing here, there are a few places in our area.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I stood in a long queue at the Cafe Sacher in Vienna, just so I could have Sachertorte on its home ground! I love Sicilian pastries too.

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