Roberto Panizza, Genova


I had the good fortune to meet, interview and photograph Roberto Panizza, the man who has the world excited about making pesto by hand. 

Not only that, I managed to capture him in a rare quiet moment, at Il Genovese, the restaurant he and his brother own, in the city of Genova.  I cannot say enough good things about the restaurant ... the menu, the quality of the ingredients, and the friendliness of the staff there.  All are superb.

But Il Genovese is only one of Roberto's many business interests, tied up in marketing Ligurian products to the world.  

He, and a Genovese team of enthusiasts, are responsible for the World Pesto Championship - created in the 90's, by group of friends who had a passion for gastronomy and for the art of being a bon vivant.

It is an event that grows larger each time it is held.  A sign, I think, that the world is embracing a return to the authentic, old-fashioned way of making pesto while incorporating a recognition of the growing importance of good ingredients.

Their website tells the story of how it all began ... the competition that has become a huge international event showcasing Ligurian cuisine.

More than that, the competition has also played a role in introducing the world to this exquisite ancient Italian city, with its fascinating and complex history, loved by the likes of Charles Dickens, and so many other, including this Kiwi.

There's a BBC article here.

The official recipe can be found on the website but the ingredients ... I'm just back from New Zealand and the pesto I made there, tasted wildly different to the pesto made here, with local ingredients.  My friends never knew ... but I did  :-)

You can order your own Genovese Pesto, online, here.


  • 4 bunches of fresh PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) Genoese basil, which guarantees high-quality taste and flavour
  • 30 g pine nuts
  • 445-60 g aged Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 20-40 g Fiore Sardo cheese (Pecorino Sardo), grated
  • 1-2 garlic cloves from Vassalico (Imperia)
  • 10 g coarse salt
  • 60-80 cc PDO extra-virgin olive oil from the “Italian Riviera”, renowned for its sweet and fruity taste, which adds flavour to the basil and dressing..