This Carbone’s Spicy Rigatoni Recipe is made with rigatoni, butter, onions, tomatoes, Calabrian chilies, vodka, and heavy cream.
Carbone is one of my favorite restaurants in NYC. I love ordering what they are famous for - the spicy rigatoni. The key to making this Spicy Vodka sauce is using crushed Calabrian chilies. I love spicy foods and Calabrian chilis can be pretty hot, but the heavy cream balances the spiciness out. It is up to you to add the chilies if you can’t handle the spice!
- What is Carbone the Restaurant?
- What is Spicy Rigatoni?
- Copycat Spicy Rigatoni Recipe Ingredients
- How to make Spicy Rigatoni
- What to serve with Spicy Rigatoni
- Spicy Rigatoni Recipe Variations
- How to store Spicy Rigatoni
- Spicy Rigatoni Recipe Top tips
- Carbone’s Spicy Rigatoni
- Food safety
What is Carbone the Restaurant?
Carbone is the name of a popular restaurant that originated in New York City and has since expanded to other locations, including Las Vegas, Hong Kong, and Miami. THey are known for their Spicy Rigatoni dish. Carbone is known for its traditional Italian-American cuisine and retro atmosphere, which is designed to evoke the glamour of mid-20th century New York City. The menu features classic dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs, chicken scarpariello, and veal parmesan, as well as a selection of seafood, salads, and sides.
The restaurant is also known for its attentive service and lively atmosphere, which includes a playlist of classic tunes and an extensive wine list. Reservations are highly recommended, as the restaurant tends to be popular and often has long wait times for walk-ins.
What is Spicy Rigatoni?
Spicy rigatoni is a pasta dish that originated in southern Italy. It typically consists of rigatoni pasta tossed in a spicy tomato sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes, onions, garlic, chili peppers, and other herbs and spices. The dish gets its spiciness from the chili peppers, which can range from mild to very hot depending on the recipe.
Spicy rigatoni is often served with grated Parmesan cheese on top and sometimes with additional toppings like basil or parsley. It is a flavorful and satisfying dish that can be enjoyed as a main course or as a side dish. The heat from the chili peppers adds a delicious kick to the dish, making it a favorite among those who love spicy food.
Copycat Spicy Rigatoni Recipe Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Vidalia onions
- San Marzano tomatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Calabrian chilies
- Heavy cream
See recipe card for Carbone’s Spicy Rigatoni quantities.
How to make Spicy Rigatoni
In a large saucepan on low heat, add the butter and wait for it to melt. Stir in the onions and cook for about 4 minutes. Pour in the water and season with a pinch of salt. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent.
Pour in the tomatoes into the onions. Stir well and add the olive oil, Calabrian chilies, vodka and butter. Stir and bring to a boil. Simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. When the sauce seems about ready, add the cream and 3 tablespoons pasta water.
Combine the sauce with the pasta.
What to serve with Spicy Rigatoni
- Garlic bread: A classic side dish for any pasta dish is garlic bread. It's easy to make and complements the spicy flavors of the rigatoni.
- Salad: A crisp, refreshing salad can help balance out the heat of the spicy rigatoni. A simple green salad with a lemon vinaigrette or a Caesar salad would be a great choice. Feel free to try my Watermelon Feta Salad.
- Grilled vegetables: Grilled vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers make a tasty and healthy side dish. You can grill them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper to enhance their flavor. Try making my Air Fried Zucchini Bites.
- Roasted potatoes: Roasted potatoes are a comforting and filling side dish that go well with spicy pasta dishes. You can season them with garlic, rosemary, or Parmesan cheese for added flavor.
- Wine: A glass of red wine such as Chianti or Sangiovese can be a great accompaniment to spicy rigatoni. The tannins in the wine can help balance out the spiciness of the pasta.
Tomatoes: I recommend using the whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes in a can for the best taste.
Onions: I would use vidalia onions, although yellow onions work.
Calabrian Chilies: You can use calabrian chili paste or crushed calabrian chilies. I actually bought whole calabrian chilies and crushed them myself.
Vodka: I used titos, but any vodka works since we will be cooking it off.
Heavy Cream: You can use whole milk or half and half, but for best consistency, the heavy cream works best.
Spicy Rigatoni Recipe Variations
- Add meat: You can add Italian sausage, ground beef, or chicken to the sauce for a heartier meal. Brown the meat in the skillet before adding the onions and continue with the recipe as usual.
- Use different pasta: While rigatoni is traditional for this dish, you can use any pasta you like. Penne, fusilli, or farfalle would work well.
- Use different peppers: Calabrian chilies give this dish its signature spiciness, but you can use different types of peppers to change up the flavor. Try using jalapeños, serranos, or habaneros for a different level of heat.
- Add vegetables: You can add vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, or zucchini to the sauce for extra flavor and nutrition. Sauté them in the skillet before adding the onions.
- Make it dairy-free: To make this recipe dairy-free, you can use a plant-based cream substitute or coconut cream instead of heavy cream. You can also skip the Parmesan cheese on top.
- Make it gluten-free: Use gluten-free pasta, and ensure that all other ingredients, including the vodka, are gluten-free as well.
- Make it vegan: Omit the butter and heavy cream, and use plant-based alternatives like coconut oil and coconut cream. Top with nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan cheese. You can also use plant-based meat substitutes instead of meat.
Check out my Tuna Pasta Bake with Feta.
- Large pot: for boiling the pasta
- Colander: for draining the pasta
- Skillet or saucepan: for making the sauce. I love using this pan for this.
- Wooden spoon or spatula: for stirring the sauce
- Sharp knife: for chopping the onions and chilies
- Cutting board: for chopping the vegetables
- Grater: for grating the Parmesan cheese
- Measuring cups and spoons: for measuring the ingredients accurately
- Pasta server or tongs: for serving the pasta
How to store Spicy Rigatoni
- Let the pasta cool down: If the pasta is still hot, let it cool down to room temperature before storing it.
- Transfer to an airtight container: Place the leftover spicy rigatoni in an airtight container. This will help keep it fresh and prevent it from absorbing any unwanted odors in the refrigerator.
- Refrigerate: Store the container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- Reheat: To reheat the spicy rigatoni, transfer it to a microwave-safe dish or a saucepan and add a splash of water or broth to loosen up the sauce. Microwave or heat on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the pasta is heated through.
Spicy Rigatoni Recipe Top tips
- Use high-quality ingredients: Since this dish has a simple ingredient list, it's important to use high-quality ingredients to get the best flavor. Use San Marzano tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese for best results.
- Cook the pasta al dente: To ensure that the rigatoni pasta has the perfect texture, make sure to cook it al dente (firm to the bite). Overcooked pasta can become mushy and ruin the dish.
- Save some pasta water: Before draining the cooked pasta, save some of the pasta water. The starchy water can be added to the sauce to thicken it and help it adhere to the pasta better.
- Adjust the spiciness to your taste: If you're not a fan of extremely spicy food, use fewer chili peppers or milder peppers like jalapeños. On the other hand, if you love spicy food, feel free to add more chili peppers or use hotter varieties like habaneros.
- Let the sauce simmer: To allow the flavors to develop, let the sauce simmer on low heat for at least 15-20 minutes. This will also help the sauce thicken up.
- Add a splash of vodka: Adding vodka to the sauce not only enhances the flavor but also helps to break down the tomatoes and create a smoother texture.
- Top with fresh herbs: Just before serving, top the spicy rigatoni with fresh herbs like basil, parsley, or cilantro. The herbs will add an extra layer of flavor and freshness to the dish.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove