Italian Pasta Recipes


The name of this dish is perhaps misleading because it’s know as a Neapolitan specialty!

In 1839, Genovese sauce officially entered the repertoire of Neapolitan cuisine thanks to Ippolito Cavalcanti, Duke of Buonvicino, who provided the recipe in his treatise Cucina Teorica – Practica under the name raguetto alla Genovese. 

Ever since this “little ragu” has become a slow-cook Sunday staple for households all over Italy.

Pasta alla Genovese
Recipe courtesy of Alfonso Mattozzi, chef at Ristorante Europeo Mattozzi in Naples excerpted from Let’s Eat Italy! by Francois-Regis Gaudry (Artisan Books)





Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • 5½ to 6½ pounds (2.5 to 3 kg) red onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3¹⁄3 pounds (1.5 kg) beef for braising (you can mix the pieces)
  • Flour
  • Thyme
  • Olive oil
  • 3 or 4 small tomatoes from Vesuvius (otherwise, olive or cherry tomatoes)
  • Wine (white or red)
  • Meat broth (beef or chicken)
  • Salt
  • 1½ pounds (700 g) ziti, broken by hand
  • Freshly grated 24-month-old Parmigiano Reggiano DOP cheese
  • A few basil leaves, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper




Peel and cut the onions into thin rings. Peel and cut the carrots and celery into small dice. Cut the meat into large cubes (2 inches/5 cm) and lightly flour them.

In a cast-iron pot, brown the carrots, celery, a few rings of the onion, and the thyme in olive oil over high heat.

Add the meat and brown on all sides.

Remove the meat and reduce the heat.

Add the remaining onions, drizzle with olive oil, and cook, covered, for 15 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid scorching.

Return the meat to the pot, then add the tomatoes and crush them.

Add a little wine and cook until evaporated.

Add enough broth just to cover the meat and season lightly with salt.

Bring to a boil, then cover and cook for 4 hours over low heat. I

f necessary, add a little water (or broth) from time to time to prevent the meat from drying out and the sauce from sticking to the pan.

After cooking, the sauce should be amber in color, the onions caramelized, and the meat well glazed. If the dish contains too much liquid, remove the lid and let reduce until the liquid is concentrated and syrupy in consistency.

Let the meat rest, covered. Reheat before serving.

Cook the ziti in a large pot of salted boiling water.

Use broken pieces, as they will help bind (mantecare) the pasta with the sauce. Drain the ziti when still very al dente, keeping aside a ladle of the pasta cooking water.

Pour the cooked pasta into another large skillet along with the Genovese sauce and the reserved pasta water.

Sauté over high heat for 1 to 2 minutes, along with some Parmigiano Reggiano DOP and chopped basil.

Transfer the ziti to a large bowl, sprinkle with more Parmigiano Reggiano DOP  and basil, and season with pepper.

Serve the meat separately, as a secondo piatto, after the pasta.

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