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This spicy rigatoni vodka is a perfect copycat version of the popular dish from Carbone. It has tender pasta covered in a rich and creamy vodka sauce. This easy spicy rigatoni Carbone recipe can be made in under 30 minutes, so it’s perfect for a quick and exciting homemade meal.
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Easy Copycat Carbone Spicy Rigatoni Recipe
Are you ready for some serious amore on a plate? This amazing spicy vodka sauce with rigatoni is a (better than the original!) copycat version of the one served at the A-lister Italian restaurant Carbone in New York City.
Our recipe is similar to the popular dish but has a decadent tomato and vodka cream sauce. It has just the right amount of spice.
Speaking of spice, the chili pepper kick makes it spicy and delicious. And adding Parmesan Reggiano to your Carbone pasta recipe will give it a completely authentic experience.
It coats perfectly al dente rigatoni pasta so that every bite has loads of deliciousness and great texture.
Then lightly salty grated or shaved Parmesan-Reggiano is added before serving to really bring all of the ingredients together.
The result is an elegant entree that beautifully balances spicy, earthy, tangy, and bright flavors. Each forkful is tasty and satisfying but leaves you wanting more and more.
This Carbone spicy rigatoni recipe is impressive looking and tasty, but it’s actually made with just a few healthy ingredients. You likely have everything you need in your kitchen right now.
This Carbone spicy rigatoni recipe only takes 25 minutes to cook, so it’s perfect for a restaurant quality meal at home any night of the week.
Serve it with a fresh and simple salad and some crusty bread for a complete meal.
What Ingredients Are In Carbone Spicy Rigatoni Vodka
You only need a few ingredients for this easy recipe. If you don’t have them, I recommend keeping them on hand!
That way you can make Carbone spicy rigatoni whenever you feel like it.
For this copycat recipe you will need:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Tomato paste
- Heavy cream
- Chili pepper paste
- Parmesan cheese
- Salt and Pepper
I also like to add fresh basil as a garnish for the authentic Italian restaurant touch.
- While there are a few ways to tweak the ingredients in this recipe, do not swap the heavy cream with half and half or milk. Heavy cream is essential for the sauce to come together properly.
- Penne pasta can be used in place of rigatoni for a penne alla vodka dish.
- Easily make this a gluten free spicy rigatoni recipe using your preferred GF-friendly pasta.
- For the classic bold flavor, we use chili pepper paste. However, you can use dried red pepper flakes for bright but less pronounced spiciness.
- You can make vodka sauce without vodka by using water and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Looking for a less spicy pasta recipe? Check out our Pasta Pomodoro recipe for a very family friendly Italian dinner.
How to Make Spicy Rigatoni with Vodka Sauce
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Then cook until they are soft and turn yellow or golden brown (3- 5 minutes).
Then, add tomato paste to the pan and cook it while stirring occasionally. The paste will turn brick red and start to caramelize after 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and add vodka. Simmer, stirring often, until the liquid is mostly evaporated.
Add heavy cream and red pepper chili paste, stirring until well blended. Then season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
Heat a large pot with 3 quarts of salted water for rigatoni pasta. Bring to a boil.
Add rigatoni to the boiling water and cook until al dente (follow the package instructions). Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water.
Add the drained pasta to the skillet with Carbone pasta sauce. Then set the burner heat to low and stir in the butter and ½ cup pasta water. Cook the sauce and pasta, stirring often.
Add more pasta water if needed, 1 tablespoon at a time until the butter has melted and the sauce is a soft orange color and is thick and glossy.
Add Parmesan cheese, check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Top with more parmesan and fresh basil (optional) before serving.
TFN cooking tip: Reserve that pasta water! Adding starchy salted water (also known as liquid gold according to Bon Appetit) will not only enhance the flavor of your Carbone pasta sauce but will emulsify the sauce and pasta, allowing the sauce to coat the pasta perfectly.
Get more rigatoni pasta recipes (linked here)! You’ll love how the grooves in rigatoni pasta become coated in the smooth sauce for the perfect pasta and sauce combo.
No rigatoni noodles, but craving a spicy pasta dinner? Try this Spaghetti Arrabbiata with spaghetti noodles.
What to Serve with Carbone Spicy Rigatoni
Frequently Asked Questions
Carbone is a popular Italian restaurant in New York City. This spicy rigatoni dish is one of their most famous dishes. This recipe is a copycat of their creamy vodka sauce rigatoni pasta dish.
Cooking times vary from brand to brand, so I always follow the directions on the rigatoni package for al dente pasta. That time is generally 11 – 12 minutes to cook rigatoni pasta.
Best Spicy Rigatoni Vodka Recipe
Carbone Spicy Rigatoni
- large stockpot for cooking pasta
- 11"- 12" skillet or a large sauce pan
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 3/4 cup vodka
- 1 cup heavy cream (do not substitute with milk or half-and-half)
- 1 tablespoon chili pepper paste (see substitutions in notes)
- 16 ounces rigatoni
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
- salt and pepper
- 4 springs fresh basil
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onion and garlic and cook until softened and yellowed (3- 5 minutes). Add tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until paste is brick red and starts to caramelize (about 5 minutes).
- Reduce heat to low and add the vodka. Simmer, stirring often, until the liquid is mostly evaporated. Add heavy cream and red pepper chili paste, stirring until well blended. Season with salt and pepper; remove from heat.
- Heat a large pot with 3 quarts of salted water for the rigatoni pasta. Once boiling, add the rigatoni and cook until al dente (follow the instructions on your rigatoni or for 12 minutes). Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta water.
- Add the drained pasta to the skillet with carbon spicy sauce. Set the burner heat to low and stir in the butter and ½ cup pasta water. Cook the sauce and pasta, stirring often. Add more pasta water if needed, 1 tablespoon at a time until the butter has melted and the sauce is a soft orange color and is thick and glossy on the pasta.
- Add the parmesan cheese, check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Top with more parmesan and fresh basil (optional) before serving.