The (Neapolitan) Genoese

5′ reading time

The Genoese sauce (“a genuvese” as it is called in Naples) is typical of Neapolitan cuisine, even if the name seems to come from Genoa.

So why “Genoese”? There are several hypotheses.
According to some, in the Aragonese period, it seems that the port was full of taverns held by Genoese cooks. Among the dishes that were served, there was a very special dish, a sauce based on onion and a whole piece of meat called “u tuccu”. The dish would have been called “Genoese”, therefore, due to the origin of these chefs.

A second hypothesis attributes the creation of the Genoese to the genius of a cook from one of the best trattorias in Naples; the cook, 100% Neapolitan, was however nicknamed “o genoves“, hence the name of the dish.

In the treatise “Cucina Teorico Pratica” (“Theoretical and practical cuisine”) by Ippolito Cavalcanti, Duke of Buonvicino, published in Naples in 1839, we officially speak of Genoese. It represents a milestone in this strange story!
Also in “Liber de Coquina” – fourteenth century cookbook – there is a similar recipe, called “de tria ianuensis”, where “tria” stands for “pasta” and “ianuensis” for “Genoese”.

All this could lead us to affirm with certainty the Genoese origins of the dish. But no. To be fair, in Ligurian cuisine there is no trace of a dish that recalls our Genoese.

recipe preparation time icon
  • Preparation Time:
    20 minutes
recipe cooking time icon
  • Cooking Time:
    1 hour
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  • Difficulty Level:

Ingredients (for 4 people)

  • 700 g of adult bovine round (ground)
  • 1 kg of golden onions
  • 1/2 glass of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • salt to taste
  • pepper as needed


  1. Finely slice the onions and put them in a pan with the oil over low heat.
  2. When the onions begin to soften, add the carrots and celery, previously cut into small pieces
  3. Add the meat and salt a little
  4. Cook over a very low heat for about 1 hour, adding a little water if necessary
  5. When cooked, add the white wine and let it evaporate. The bagnarola must turn brown
  6. Season with salt and pepper and season the pasta



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