The culinary tradition in Naples is spread all over the world: among the main courses, the "Genovese" stands not only for its taste, so dense and rich, but also for its origins and its preparation. Of course, the questions are: why it is called this way? Is it a Neapolitan or a Ligurian dish? How did it come out? Well, let's try to trace its history.
Origins of the 'Genovese sauce'
With the word "Genovese", Neapolitan people refer to the 'Genovese sauce', a deep solide ragout obtained by cooking meat and onions. Time and patience are, in fact, the secret of this recipe: as a pride of the Neapolitan gastronomy, the "Genovese" (as well as for the Ragout) needs to be cooked with love and over low heat, like following a ritual and not a recipe. It is considered to be a soul's nutrishment, which must be simmered at a very low heat. During the Borbonic period, many chefs from Genoa came to Naples and started to cook the meat by obtaining a particular sauce used then to flavoring the pasta, but the several recipe books of the time state that the term "Genovese" was mainly used to indicate a more basic sauce, and that then the recipe as we know it today came out only during the second half of the 17th century.
Each Neapolitan family has its own personal and secret recipe, but the ingredients are always the same. Firstly, the onion, better the copper one, which must be melting through the contiuous blending. Then, the meat can be different: the most used type is the lacertus, followed by the rump or by the shin's muscle (rich people used to add the veal's first cut). Last, but not least, pasta: tradition wants "ziti" to be the right type of pasta for the "Genovese"; they are broken by the hands in order to make them falling down the pot and making the whole course more tasty. Other types of pasta it can be combined with are 'candele', 'penne', 'paccheri', 'mezzani, maltagliati'.
Where to eat a good "Genovese"
If you are willing to taste a good "Genovese" maybe close to the sea and into a very comfortable place, La Casa di Ninetta is the right choice. It is a traditional but at the same time classy restaurant, near Victoria Square and the Comunal Park, where simplicity and hospitality, but also refienment and good taste, reign supreme. Here, you can find the real "Genovese", made with "ziti", according to the Sastri family's ancient recipe.