First a disclaimer should an Italian read this. I know pesto comes from Genoa, and no self respecting Italian would order or expect pesto to be good anywhere but in Genoa. But I am not Italian and I am loving the pesto here in the north, albeit it is hard to find.

There are a mix of options for pesto but the ingredients are pretty simple — start with basil and and olive oil, then maybe add cheese, pine nuts, and garlic. Given the simplicity of ingredients the differences are pretty amazing. I am not that into how to make food — but I am fascinated that you can get such different results from so few ingredients.

The best I have had here is at Al Valuu, a small restaurant outside of Tremezzo (see our trek there). They make it with just basil and oil (3 nuts on top, for decoration). The basil comes from the garden outside of the restaurant, thats the first trick they will explain to you, the second is that they crush it by hand with a pestle and mortar. Therein basil and olive oil somehow turns into something magical. You have to do it by hand they explained to me. Above is the owner — vegatables in hand (note, for his soup, not his pesto).
I have found a couple of other places who do great pesto — some with garlic, some with pine nuts, some with parmesan but nothing comes close to the simple basil and oil solution from Al Valuu. There really aren’t standards here re: how to do something — each family, each place has its own way and its up to you to figure out what’s good for you. I love standards, but in this case I am loving a lack of standards.