What Is Pesto Cetarese?


Short answer
Not for people intimidated by big, bold flavours, pesto Cetarese is a sauce made from anchovies, olives, capers, almonds, olive oil, and Colatura di Alici, which is Italy's answer to Asian fish sauce.

Long answer
Pesto Cetarese is a style of pesto that can be traced to the traditional fishing town of Cetara, located in our favourite place on earth, Italy's Amalfi Coast. A family-run firm, Delfino Battista, produces the proudly pungent sauce, with its hallmark being Colatura di Alici, a fish sauce made from the region's beloved anchovies.

The locals still fish for their prized anchovies using powerful flashlights in the dead of night. Their small boats ensure the sustainability of the stock so that future generations get to experience the taste of their world-class catch. Back on land, the anchovies are gutted, filleted, salted, and layered in chestnut barrels. They are then left to ferment for anything up to three years. The resulting juices are then drained and bottled, and the stunning amber-coloured liquid can be used to give an umami kick to any number of dishes.

Colatura di Alici

While colatura provides the base flavour of Cetarese pesto, the sauce contains plenty of traditional pesto ingredients, including basil, salt, nuts, and olive oil. It also makes use of some of the region's other famed ingredients, including olives, capers, chilli, and oregano. The resulting pesto is complex, deeply savoury, and utterly delicious.

Pesto Cetarese can be stirred through piping hot pasta just like any other pesto, but we think it’s best when used as a topping for bruschetta.