Paccheri alla Genovese


on March 23, 2011 | 10:53 am | 14 Comments

Cooking with Giuseppe Naples ItalyGenovese – a rich onion sauce flavored with meat, it is a classic Neapolitan dish. Think the aromas, flavors and comfort of the Sunday Pot Roast but with a Neapolitan flair.

Cooked ever so slowly over the lowest of flames, the onions gradually transform from crispy bites into a creamy sauce that is as savory as it is sweet. The meat so tender it has to be removed from the sauce with a surgeon’s precision lest it fall apart into a thousand pieces.

Served with paccheri – large tubes of pasta that are a Neapolitan tradition and the perfect vessel to deliver the sauce.

As with all Neapolitan dishes there are as many versions and cooking methods as there are Neapolitans. Onions are always the star of the show however and I find large white onions are the best. As for the meat, the dish can be made with beef, veal, pork or a combination. Spalla, which roughly equates to chuck roast is often used but chuck steak, pork shoulder or pork or veal shank – stinco di maiale or stinco di vitello can be used as well.

Serve as one dish or two. Use the sauce to condition the pasta and serve it as the primo piatto. Serve the meat with a dollop of sauce on top as the secondo piatto. Or, serve them together as one dish.

Paccheri alla Genovese Naples Italy

I recently learned how to make Paccheri alla Genovese at Gambero Rosso’s cooking class Pizzaioloa, Aglio e Olio e Genovese at Città del Gusto. A delicious recipe but a bit fussy, I found the addition of milk and pecorino cheese to make the dish a little too rich for my tastes.

Having tried Gambero Rosso’s recipe and having sampled Genovese in more restaurants than I’d care to admit, I wanted to know how the home cook makes it. So I asked my dear friend Giuseppe from Noi, hairstylist extraordinaire and passionate home cook to come up and show me how it’s done in the Neapolitan kitchen. About a half hour later I had a simmering pot of Genovese on the stove and Giuseppe’s family recipe recorded for posterity.

Genovese Sauce Naples Italy


500 grams of beef, veal and/or pork cuts
2 tbsp of lard
1 kilo (or more) of white onions
2 carrots
1 stalk of celery
6 cherry tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
White wine
Freshly grated parmigiano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Method

Heat oil and lard in a 6 – 8 qt stock pot over low heat
While the oil is heating, finely dice the carrots and celery and set aside
Finely chop the onions and set aside
Quarter the tomatoes and set aside
Saute the carrots and celery
Add the meat and 1/2 glass of white wine
Once the meat is lightly browned, remove it and set it aside
Add the onions, tomatoes, salt, and pepper
Swirl in a bit more olive oil
Return the meat to the pan and add a 1/2 glass of water
Cover and cook 3 – 5 hours until the sauce is amber-colored and the meat is tender


Cook the paccheri al dente
Remove the large chunks of meat from the sauce and set aside to serve with the pasta or as a secondo piatto
Return the paccheri to the pot the pasta was cooked in
Over low heat, add the sauce with a ladle a bit at a time until the paccheri is well coated (reserve some to put over the meat)
Stir in grated parmigiano cheese to taste
Plate the pasta and if you like add a few chunks of the meat and sprinkle it with a bit more parmigiano

Buon Appetito!


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A native Neapolitan, Giuseppe Topo is a hairstylist and one of the owners of Noi Salon, Naples only English-speaking salon. A passionate cook, when he's not styling hair Giuseppe can be found in the kitchen cooking up one of his favorite Neapolitan dishes, which he proudly features on his regular series for Napoli Unplugged, Cooking with Giuseppe.
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14 reviews

  1. Gail Brown, March 23, 2011 4:35 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

    Thanks for sharing this authentic recipe! I had this dish for the first time in Napoli at Osteria da Tonino which I think is in your neighborhood. Just delicious.

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      Bonnie, March 23, 2011 6:14 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

      Hi Gail – yes da Tonino is not very far from me. How did you like their Genovese? I’ve eaten there many times but have yet to try their Genovese. Will have to add it to my list 🙂

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    Penny Ewles-Bergeron, March 23, 2011 6:04 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

    Bonnie, this is so great! I am hankering for genovese now – how could you do this to me? Lovely photo of Giuseppe – what a clever chap.

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      Bonnie, March 23, 2011 6:16 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

      Now you have the recipe to try and its sooooo easy to make. You just need to leave enough time so it can slow cook. Put it on tomorrow morning and you could have it for lunch. What time are we eating LOL

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  3. Gail Brown, March 23, 2011 10:15 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

    Bonnie, I thought the penne alla genovese at da Tonino was wonderful; it was a very simple dish, just penne and sugo. I liked it so much that my husband found a recipe and has made it for us a couple of times. What I love is the creaminess without any cream and the mild yet rich flavor.

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  4. Ryan Barnett, March 24, 2011 12:32 am - Paccheri alla Genovese

    I’ve been holding back for awhile waiting until I can contribute something significant…ok, so I don’t have much. We are an American family that lived in Napoli 6 years ago and we are ecstatic to be moving back next March!

    My wife has long straight hair and is very picky about getting it cut; so much so that it took me almost a year to find someone for her (sure it was 6 years ago) but there is an English speaking stylist in Pozzuoli.

    I can’t wait to be back in Napoli.


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      Bonnie, March 31, 2011 6:54 am - Paccheri alla Genovese

      Nice to hear from you Ryan. Great to hear you found an English speaking stylist your wife liked and yes there are certainly other English speaking stylists in the city and the province. I think the difference is that the Noi stylists were trained and had salons in the US and cater to the English speaking community.

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  5. mariella Devivo, March 26, 2011 6:05 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

    I tried the recipe and it was just delicious! Actually it was better than the one I had in the restaurant. Would Giuseppe have other recipes to give for us to try? Thank you!

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      Bonnie, March 26, 2011 6:22 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

      Great to hear Mariella – so glad you liked it! Yes – absolutely more recipes from Giuseppe will be coming very soon 🙂

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  6. Candace Dempsey, May 11, 2011 3:05 am - Paccheri alla Genovese

    I would so love to make this recipe. Can you suggest a pasta that I can buy in the U.S. that would be similar? I live in Seattle, but can’t think of anything similar. I am Italian-American.

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      Bonnie, May 11, 2011 4:37 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

      Hi Candace – I would think you could find Paccheri in the supermarket or perhaps at a Whole Foods or specialty market and I know you can get it online. If you can’t find however, you might try rigatoni or mezzi rigatoni. Enjoy!

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  7. Adri, June 4, 2011 5:55 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

    I have only just discovered your terrific blog. Thanks for the great authentic recipe. Rarely in the U.S. do we see recipes that call for paccheri. I look forward to more recipes.

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      Bonnie, June 4, 2011 8:05 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

      Hi Adri – thanks so much!!! Giuseppe will definitely be back with many more authentic Neapolitan recipes 🙂

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  8. Albert Bassano, September 27, 2011 2:50 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

    Bonnie, I love the receipe and will definitely try it. One question: does it matter whether the onions are chooped or thinly sliced, as depicted above? (one comment: I’ve noticed that whenever I saute onions, either alone or in a soffrito with carrots, celery, etc., that adding a drop or two of white vinegar towards the end, when all are soft and transluscent, enhances the aromatics and adds a bit of complexity to the flavor).

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      Bonnie, October 4, 2011 1:07 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

      Ciao ALBERT no io credo che importa poco se siano tagliate in modo sottile riguarda all’aceto bianco verso la fine e giusto e sono contento del tuo suggerimento a presto. – Giuseppe

      It’s best to cut the onions as we did but not hugely important. As for the vinegar at the end, that’s a very good idea and I appreciate your suggestions.

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  9. domenicacooks, February 22, 2012 7:56 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

    Absolutely one of my favorite pasta dishes. I still remember the first time I had it, many years ago, when we were visiting friends in Caserta. I had no idea what it was called and it took me some time to figure it out, years later, as an adult when I was doing research for a recipe for my book (lots of delicious testing involved!). You’re right; it is one of those recipes that is as unique as the cook who is making it–just one of the beautiful traits of Italian cooking. Giuseppe’s version sounds wonderful.

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      Bonnie, February 22, 2012 8:37 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

      I’ve eaten Genovese all over the city (and I have no book for an excuse LOL) and I have to say there have been a lot of very close seconds but Giuseppe’s is still my favorite. I think there is just something about cooking at home that makes a dish even that much better.

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  10. Natale, March 29, 2012 3:55 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

    Ciao Bonnie,

    I am going to make an attemp to cook Genovese this week-end so, wish me luck.


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      Bonnie, March 29, 2012 6:40 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

      I’m sure it will be fantastic Natale 🙂

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      • Natale, April 2, 2012 5:38 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

        Ciao Bonnie,

        I wanted to update you on how the my Genovese came out. Oh my gosh it was great, I had to force myself to stop eating after serveral servings. It came out soooooooooooooo very good not as good as Giuseppe’s family recipe I am sure. I have cooked many dishes I learned in Napoli following the exact reciepts right down the line but, they never come out as good as eating it in Naploi. All of my friends in Napoli tell me the water there compare to there is the difference. So, I always put plenty of sea salt in any Italain dish which makes a big difference.

        Any more reciepts Giuseppe?



        Take care


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        • Luana, April 17, 2012 2:21 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

          Hi Natale,
          That’s true..It never comes out the same because of the water, but keep on using sea salt, it’s very good for any dishes.
          For other recipes keep on following napoliunplugged, we publish a recipe every two weeks.

          Take care,

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  11. Rosa Bounds, April 22, 2012 6:21 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

    Wonderful Recipe! Easy, tasty, looks just like the picture! Thanks for sharing. I will be cooking this again and again.

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      Bonnie, April 23, 2012 9:30 am - Paccheri alla Genovese

      So glad you enjoyed it Rosa – it’s one of my favorites!

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  12. Carmen Rosales, May 5, 2012 11:46 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

    I will try this next time..

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  13. tracie parzen, July 8, 2012 8:03 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

    i LOVED genovese when i lived between ischia and napoli. i was able to watch is be made once or twice but forgot the process. thanks for posting! i will definitely be making it when the weather cools off 🙂

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      Bonnie, July 9, 2012 12:19 pm - Paccheri alla Genovese

      It’s definitely a great wintertime dish Tracie 🙂

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  14. Sandra Giammatteo Maenza, December 3, 2012 12:41 am - Paccheri alla Genovese

    Sounds almost exactly how my mother used to make. Thanks for shading. It's truly a delicious dish!

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