A few weeks ago I was in Sorrento - at Gio Ponti Restaurant in the spectacular Hotel Parco dei Principi to be exact. It was my first visit back in nearly 2 seasons so I was super excited to see what Executive Chef Vincenzo Piacente had been up to. Of the many dishes I tried and admired, this Neapolitan classic - Candele Pasta alla Genovese - stood out. I had a chance to hang out in the kitchen as the chef and brigade were plating up. I took advantage of that time to learn a little history about the dish from Marcello Mosca -- a true Neapolitan.
Marcello shared with me that this classic recipe handed down to him by his grandmother was basically a poor man's dish. Onions, carrots and pork were slow cooked to form the pasta sauce and it was used to top pasta formats such as maccheroni.
Nowadays, pork has been replace with beef - preferably with some fat to withstand the long cooking time ( a few hours at least). A popular choice for the pasta format is candele past. Many pasta makers sell packages in which the pasta has already been spezzate - broken in thirds. Piacente adds a gourmet touch to the dish by topping the dish with carrots, fried leek and zucchini for a crunchy element, a creamy Parmigiano Reggiano sauce, and fresh basil.