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genoese tocco

Il Tocco: a traditional sauce from Genoa

The Genoese tocco, also called u’ tuccu or toccu is a very good and ancient meat sauce of the typical Ligurian cuisine.

The origins of the tocco are quite ancient; a great admirer of this recipe was Niccolò Paganini who wrote in a letter in 1839, today kept at the Library of Congress in Washington, the recipe of the famous meat sauce.

U’ tuccu is a traditional recipe that is simple to make and only needs a little patience. The sauce, in fact, must cook for a long time over low heat to make it really delicious.

Unlike the Bolognese meat sauce, in the tocco the meat is used in a single piece which, cooking slowly in its own liquids, releases all its flavour.

After seasoning the pasta with the delicious sauce, the meat can be served as a second course, cut into thin slices and served with a spoonful of sauce on each one of them. If you don’t like it, it can be recycled into tasty meatballs or different kinds of fillings. In short, just use your imagination!

The tocco is suitable as seasoning for fresh, dry or filled pasta. It is excellent with meat ravioli and also with polenta.

Each family has its own recipe, here we propose that of @brianorenata.

genoese tocco

Genoese Tocco Recipe


  • One-piece beef 500 g
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Celery stalk
  • Extra virgin olive Oil
  • Flour
  • Tomato sauce 150 g
  • Dried mushrooms 50 g
  • Red wine half glass
  • Vegetable broth


Chop carrot, onion, celery and brown them in oil. After about three minutes, put the floured meat and brown it well on all sides.

Simmer with red wine until reduced.

In the meantime, dilute the tomato sauce with the broth in a glass. Add them to the meat and season with salt.

Cook over low heat for half an hour.

While the tocco cooks, soak in dried mushrooms in warm water for 10 minutes. Then squeeze and chop them (all or part of them).

You can keep the filtered dried mushroom water and use it to dilute the sauce during cooking. Otherwise use the broth.

Add the mushrooms to the sauce and cook over low heat for an hour and a half. During cooking if the liquid dries out too much dilute with broth or mushroom water.

Serve as a sauce to tasty meat ravioli and…enjoy your meal!

If you want to discover other traditional Ligurian recipes, check out our blog. If you want to try some of the typical dishes of Genoa in the best places then join our food tour in Genoa.