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Aug 13, 2001 09:45 PM

Genova's Ravioli

  • m

With 15 people ahead of me at the deli counter at Genova Delicatessen in Napa, I had plenty of time to examine all the offerings. Instead of the sandwich I'd planned to pick up, I opted for a pint (1#) to go of hot ravioli in meat sauce for $5.95.

Dominic's original ravioli factory in Oakland was the ravioli of choice when I lived in the East Bay ages ago. Tasting these again with the mushroom/meat tomato-based sauce took me back to those student days when this was splurge. The ravioli were surprisingly soft and almost mushy, maybe from waiting too long on the steam table. But the old-fashioned taste hit the spot and was very satisfying. Only wish that I'd bought a piece of garlic bread too which would have been just the thing to dip in that sauce.

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  1. I grew up on food from the Genova in Oakland -- I still head there for the cold cuts and the torta. Also one of the few places that reliably has ripe Teleme cheese.

    I bought some frozen ricotta ravioli and pesto there a few weeks ago to take to a veggie potluck (no time to cook that weekend!). I also found the ravioli to be a little mushy when cooked (I may have overcooked them slightly). Upon consideration, I decided the dough was a little thinner than most ravioli; they had trouble holding their shape, but on the other hand, they weren't tough and slightly raw between the layers on the edges the way sturdier ravioli can be.

    20 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      The pesto torta! That was my first enounter with marscapone.

      You're right, the ravioli don't have the doughy stuck-in-your-teeth quality that many do.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Actually, torta is what they call the frittata-like stuff they make with either zucchini or artichokes. My mother spent years trying to duplicate the recipe, with only modest success. The Genova is the only place I've ever seen it.

        I guess they also have the layered pesto/mascarpone/cheese "torta" too, although I associate that with Ratto's.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Ah, yes, the artichoke frittata-like thing! My sister cuts it into small squares as an appetizer and serves it with...get this...a squirt of sriracha sauce.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            How fusion of her!

            Actually, since the torta is rich and little bland, sounds like that might enhance it nicely.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Our favorite ravioli in San Francisco are made at Lucca Ravioli Company at 1100 Valencia at 22nd St. You can watch them making these through the window that looks onto the street. Sometimes they make special varieties -- particularly during the holiday season -- but their everyday meat and spinach or cheese ravioli are excellent. These are the fresh ones that you see in open boxes behind the counter, not the ones in the freezer section of the store -- those are good, but these are better.

              And, by the way, believe it or, Lucca, a store in the parking hell of the Mission has its own free parking lot. You enter on Valencia just past the store.

            2. re: Melanie Wong
              Jennifer Fish Wilson

              And your sister is bringing the frittata and sriracha sauce to the Golden Gate picnic, right?

              1. re: Jennifer Fish Wilson

                Well, she'd have to come out of hiding and post something here to get an invitation.

                But that's all a big secret for now...shhhhh

                  1. re: walker

                    Note that you are reading posts from 2001.

                    1. re: larochelle

                      Stephanie kept it a secret for 7 years and now you blew it.

                  2. re: Melanie Wong

                    Actually I use the fried artichoke fritter-like with the sriracha -- not the torta.

                    Re: Raviolis -- I try to get the fresh ones and ignore the timing instructions on the bags/boxes. Then I start testing after they float because the cooking time varies per fresh vs frozen, and type of filling and pasta.

                  3. re: Ruth Lafler

                    My absolute favorite sandwich ifrom Genova is the artichoke frittata on a sweet roll with everything--it's the best.

                    And I miss Ratto's for lunch but that is blast from the past unfortunately.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I've loved the artichoke torta since I was a toddler, and have recently become obsessed with trying to duplicate the recipe.... any tips from your mom's recipe box?

                      1. re: panevino

                        Let us know when you nail it since it's really expensive to buy. I stopped last week and couldn't believe it when one piece was ~$7. But it was goooooood.

                    2. re: Ruth Lafler
                      Caitlin McGrath

                      Oh gosh--Genova ravioli! This was the only non-homade "frozen food" in my house growing up (okay, not true, sometimes my mom picked up Lucca at the supermarket). But it was a staple in our house--for me, spinach and cheese with pesto sauce (we didn't buy Genova pesto, though)--with a Genova run every so often to restock. When I came home after a late night out where I had to miss dinner in high school, it was always Genova ravioli for me. The torta was always a treat for when we were in the store itself, to eat on the fly, along with those seep-fried balls of artichoke heart, sold warm. Mmmm.... Interesting to hear about the thin dough on the ravioli; it's been a few years since I've had them, certainly, but back then they were still pretty toothsome (maybe easier not overcook when you're using frozen, though). Don't know if it's still true, but 5-6 years ago, Berkeley Bowl carried frozen Genova ravioli.

                      Oh yes: When I was out there in June, I almost had a minor panic as we drove down Telegraph on our way home from the Battambang chowhound dinner, and there was no Genova! Then we turned the corner, and I saw they'd moved from the old place into that new shopping center.

                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                        Boy, that would be a heartstopper, no Genova! I must confess that I have not been to the new digs yet. Moved there a couple-three years ago?

                        The one disappointing aspect about the Napa branch is the absence of the young and mustachioed Italian counter men who were so fun to flirt with when I was in school. My salad days, when I was green in judgement!

                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                          Caitlin McGrath

                          Ah, but not so green in food judgment!

                          Oh, and I must say it's very rare to find a container of prepared ravioli in sauce where the ravioloi's not a little too mushy, in my experience, even from places with good ravioli.

                      2. re: Ruth Lafler

                        There's a Genova's down the street from me..every Italian restaurant/kitchen should smell like that...unbelieveable! And when i was pregnant, all i wanted were their ribs!

                      3. b
                        Brandon Nelson

                        Genova Deli...

                        This was our lunch high school choice when I got a car. The gang would all pile into my camaro and slip off for lunch. If only I had understood then what great food I was surrounded by. The usual back then was smoked turkey and avocado on a croissant with lettuce, tomato, and mayo and a Jolt Cola to wash it down. I have purchased a Siler Oak cabernet or two in there in more recent years.


                        1. c
                          Christine Vallejo

                          Genova's tortellini with pesto used to be great - might still be but I haven't had any in years. When I worked at RMW, I would occasionally get food from Genova's to feed the masses: some kind of pasta, salad, bread, and cheesecake. They have great chicken salad, too.

                          My current favorite place for ravioli is Molino's over in Concord on Pleasant Hill Road. Molino's is kind of in the country; you buy the raviolis, sauce, etc., and take it home to cook. I don't think they have meals ready to eat on the spot. My husband brought home several boxes of various raviolis one night, and they were still warm, lightly dusted with flour, and were wonderful. We went by there a few Sundays ago and they had just closed (5:00).

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: Christine Vallejo
                            James McGuire

                            My grandfather introduced me to Molinos raviolis about 13 years ago. He had been eating them since he was a kid in the 30's. I guess they used to be in Oakland or Emeryville long ago. I must say they are by far the best Ive ever tasted. Wish I could get them to send me some up here in Fairbanks, AK.

                            1. re: Christine Vallejo

                              Ooooooooh, I live in Concord but have never eaten there. I've heard good things though!

                              1. re: kirsten_k

                                Wow!!! What a flash to read this...I grew up in Lafayette and my Dad grew up in Concord... His parents moved to Martinez and as kids (in the late 50's and early 60's) we hated making the drive over Pleasant Hill Road to go see them...our pains were assuaged by a stop at Molino's on the way back and a subsequent ravioli dinner...I remember so well those dusky flour covered squares sitting in the box...Childhood comfort food that I'd forgotten about for a long long time...Thanks for the post

                                1. re: kirsten_k

                                  Hey did you know that Molino's Ravioli on Pleasant Hill Road is open again! Mrs. Molino just re-opened a few months ago and the ravioli are still the best around. I sure missed them when they closed but now I am back on track with great ravioli dinners again.

                                  1. re: ravgirl

                                    Thanks, here's the link. Is it still to-go only?

                                    Molino's Ravioli
                                    2150 Pleasant Hill Rd, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                      Went out to Concord today to try Molino's Raviolis. The shop is in a residential neighborhood. We went in a basement door and found a time-warp experience. An older Italian lady was there and pointed us to a large glassed door freezer stocked with many varieties of frozen ravioli. Most were available in small (48 count) and large (32 count) sizes. There was cheese, spinach, beef, chicken and spicy chicken flavors. We bought a box of large beef and a box of small spicy chicken. In another case was meat sauce, mushroom sauce and garlic bread. They also sold some lasagna, cannelloni and they had a large foil pan of meatballs. It is take-out only.

                                      Cooked the beef ravioli and served it with the meat sauce. Overall, was dissatisfied with it. While the pasta in the raviolis was thin, the filling was mushy and not flavorful. The sauce was dark and a little musky - almost like an enchilada sauce with a little mole thrown in.

                                      Had the garlic bread, which was a half loaf with some roasted garlic on the top. It was better than the raviolis.

                                      I wanted to like the raviolis as it was a chowhound adventure, but was disappointed.

                                      My favorite ravioli in San Francisco is from Lucca’s deli on Chestnut. I enjoy the large beef with spinach ravioli. A little more spinach-y than I prefer, it still is very good and has an excellent wrapper to filling ratio. I taste more of the filling and less of the pasta. They are made on Tuesdays and Fridays and do sell out.

                                      1. re: Bob Copeland

                                        Adding links. Note that there's no connection between the two Luccas.

                                        Lucca Ravioli
                                        1100 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                        Genova Delicatessen & Ravioli
                                        5095 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                                        Lucca Delicatessen
                                        2120 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123

                                        1. re: Bob Copeland

                                          BC on the molino. Did you follow the cooking directions on the package? They are wrong. 15-20 minutes if fresh and add 3-5 minutes if frozen. Dropped in boiling, salted water and waited till they floated, 3-5 minutes. Pasta still past al dente. They were ok not great. The cheese were tastier than the beef.

                                          1. re: wolfe

                                            Yes - we shortened the cooking time but the ravs were still mushy.
                                            Did have the beef canneloni last night which was better.

                                            IMHO, Lucca's Deli on Chestnut is still better. Anyone else have any other favorites? Will burn gas for good raviolis.

                                            1. re: Bob Copeland

                                              Phoenix Pastificio's are very good. Probably more expensive.

                                              Phoenix Pastificio
                                              1250 Addison St, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                2. This is real Bay Area nostalgia. My father worked not far from Genova in Oakland for years and would pick up their food on the way home, now and then. Circa 1962. (Lucca we got frozen at the Co-op, I think, but Genova fresh at the source.) They sold pesto sauce when it was much less well known (and the phrase "pesto sauce" even less so).

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: eatzalot

                                    I think it's more nostalgia than anything, because I find their ravioli to be mediocre.

                                    We bought them for Easter and we were all disappointed.

                                  2. We had the Genova artichoke (my favorite) and zucchini torta at our wedding - 33 years ago. I still love it (still married too)!