While its very well known that I am not Italian (in fact, half Irish and half English), I think it is fair that I can make such an opinionated statement regarding a sauce, or “gravy,” if you will. First off, I have no biases towards other sauces. I do not have an Italian grandmother to which I want to swear allegiance to her pot of bubbling deliciousness. Rather, I have an Irish grandmother with a penchant for Stouffer’s frozen lasagna. Some may exclaim that I do not have the Italian palate fit to judge such a claim. Nonsense. I have eaten my fair share of over-salted and preservative filled Olive Garden in addition to having my fair share of fresh, bright and luscious sauces in the North End of Boston. I know a good sauce when I taste/smell/see one.
My quest to make an amazing sauce started my junior year in college. At this time I thought nothing of cracking open a jar of Classico and dumping it over generic brand noodles and calling it dinner. One night I offered to host a spaghetti night for my sorority sisters. They all groaned and said the only way that they would participate was if I nixed the stuff from a jar. It was my turn to groan. Every time I asked someone to share their recipe she said it was a secret family recipe that was impossible to share. Finally, my big sister stepped up to the plate. Coming from a close-knit Italian family she often invited me for dinners when going home to NC was just not an option. She decided I could learn her “gravy” recipe. From that moment, I was hooked. I wanted to try cooking all sorts of sauces.
One day while watching the Barefoot Contessa on the food network I watched an incredible sauce be built before my eyes. Originally, this is a sauce made at Nick and Toni’s Restaurant in East Hampton, NY. It had a magical color and I could almost smell it through my television. Immediately, I knew I had to make this sauce.
While I can wax on poetically about how good, creamy, rich and downright enjoyable this sauce is, that would get rather boring. Instead, here is a picture for you to see the magical color on your own, and a link to the recipe. Trust me, just this once, don’t go with Grandma’s secret recipe. TRY IT.
P.S. In case my opinion isn’t good enough, the Amateur Gourmet also did a post about this pasta sauce here: Amateur Gourmet’s Post on Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola