At Eataly, we believe that there is no such thing as “Italian food.” Instead, each of Italy 20 regions boasts its own unique culture and cuisine. The fresh, seaside cuisine of Liguria, a narrow, northern region, provides the perfect example.
Tracing the Ligurian Sea, Liguria’s coastline is tellingly known as the Riviera dei Fiori, or the Coast of Flowers. The landscape does not disappoint: rocky cliffs plunge into historic bays and well-worn port towns, which are known for their brightly-colored buildings, cultivated flowers, and – happily for us – delicious food and wine. The seaside region is celebrated for its delicate extra virgin olive oil; freshly-ground pesto (especially paired with pasta); and aromatic high-quality wine. Create the perfect Ligurian meal with these ingredients!
With rolling hills that meet sea breezes, Liguria’s unique microclimate is ideal for olive groves. After centuries of development, the region’s extra virgin olive oil is among the best in the country, known for its delicate yet full-bodied flavor. We love to drizzle Ligurian olive oil over light dishes, such as fresh fish, salads, or pasta.
Liguria is the birthplace of pesto, a sauce traditionally made with freshly-crushed basil; pine nuts; and garlic blended with extra virgin olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Fiore Sardo. Pesto evolved from the Italian word pestare, which means to pound, crush, or grind. For centuries, Ligurians have been incorporating the freshly-ground sauce into various dishes. Today, we love to incorporate the sauce into almost any dish – especially pasta.
When preparing the perfect plate of pasta, our experts at Eataly remind us that the pasta should “marry” the sauce. The shape, size, and texture of each type of pasta interact differently with various sauces. For example, thin, delicate pasta like cappellini pairs better with lighter sauces, while smaller, more textured pasta like penne are ideally served with heavier meat sauces. Pesto’s match made in pasta heaven is the trofiette, a twisted, spiral-shaped pasta also native to Liguria. Finish the pasta with a drizzle of Ligurian olive oil, and your primo is set!
To complete your meal, pair the pesto pasta with a glass of regional wine. Known for Vermentino, Pigato, and Rossese grapes, the Liguria features many smaller DOC (denominazione di origine controllata, or controlled designation of origin) regions, such as the white wine Cinque Terre DOC or the red wine Rossese di Dolceacqua DOC. For a light pairing perfect for spring, our wine experts suggest pairing pesto pasta with the Vermentino grape; we love Lupi’s Riviera Ligure di Ponente Vermentino, a white wine with a delicate scent that belies a full-bodied flavor with notes of almond and a mellow, fresh finish. Visit Eataly’s wine shops in New York or Chicago, and browse our selection of Ligurian wines.