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Carbone Spicy Rigatoni

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Rustic yet refined, this spicy rigatoni vodka is the perfect copycat version of the popular dish from Carbone. It features tender pasta coated in a rich and creamy vodka sauce, with a deliciously spicy chili pepper kick. Top with a generous sprinkle of grated Parmesan-Reggiano for the complete authentic experience right at home! Our easy spicy rigatoni Carbone recipe is ready in under 30 minutes for an exciting but nearly effortless homemade meal.

a casserole dish of spicy rigatoni with a closeup of a spoonful

An 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.

Just like the popular original dish, our recipe features a decadent tomato and vodka cream sauce with just the right spiciness.

a skillet with a creamy spicy vodka sauce

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.

Although it looks and tastes impressive, this Carbone spicy rigatoni recipe is actually made with less than a dozen wholesome ingredients… You likely have nearly everything you need in the kitchen right now.

Spicy rigatoni vodka is ready to serve in only 25 minutes with a fresh simple salad and crusty bread for a restaurant-quality dinner right at home any night of the week.

What Ingredients Are In Carbone Spicy Rigatoni Vodka

You only need simple pantry ingredients for this wonderfully easy recipe. If you don’t have them already, I highly recommend keeping these on hand! That way you are ready to whip up Carbone spicy rigatoni whenever you get a craving.

a box of rigatoni, carton of heavy cream, chili paste, an onion, a can of tomato paste, parmesan cheese, and a bottle of vodka

For this copycat recipe you need:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Tomato paste
  • Vodka
  • Heavy cream
  • Chili pepper paste
  • Rigatoni
  • Butter
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and Pepper

I also like to add fresh basil as a garnish for the authentic Italian restaurant touch.

Recipe Variations

  • 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.
  • Easily make this a gluten free spicy rigatoni recipe by using your preferred GF-friendly pasta.
  • For the classic bold flavor we use chili pepper paste. However, you can use dried red pepper flakes instead for bright but less pronounced spiciness.
  • You can make vodka sauce without vodka by instead using water and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

How to Make Spicy Rigatoni with Vodka Sauce

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onion and garlic and cook until softened and yellowed (3- 5 minutes).

Then, add tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until paste is brick red and starts to caramelize (5 minutes).

a skillet with onions, garlic, and tomato paste

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. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

a skillet of creamy vodka sauce

Heat a large pot with 3 quarts of salted water for rigatoni pasta. Once boiling, add rigatoni and cook until al dente (follow the instructions on your rigatoni). Drain, 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.

Add Parmesan cheese, check the seasoning and add salt and pepper, if needed. Top with more parmesan and fresh basil (optional) before serving.

skillet with rigatoni with creamy vodka sauce with basil on top and shredded parmesan cheese

TFN cooking tip: Reserve that pasta water! Adding starchy salted water (also known as liquid gold by Bon Appetit) will not only enhance the flavor of your sauce but will emulsify the sauce and pasta, allowing the sauce to perfectly coat the pasta.

Get more rigatoni pasta recipes (linked here)! You’ll love how the grooves in rigatoni pasta become coated in the sauce for the perfect pasta and sauce combo.

What to Serve with Carbone Spicy Rigatoni

Enjoy this rich, hearty pasta dish with a simple fresh green salad or Caesar salad. And a warm loaf of crusty and soft home-baked bread is always fabulous on the table!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is rigatoni Carbone?

Carbone is a well-known Italian restaurant in New York City and this spicy rigatoni is one of their popular dishes there. This recipe is a copycat of that creamy vodka sauce rigatoni pasta dish.

How long does it take to cook rigatoni?

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.

What food goes with Carbone Spicy Rigatoni?

I like to serve a simple fresh green salad or Caesar salad with spicy pasta recipes. And a warm loaf of crusty and soft home-baked bread is always fabulous on the table!

the Best Spicy Rigatoni Vodka Recipe

a close up of spicy rigatoni pasta with the casserole dish of creamy vodka pasta in the background
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5 from 1 vote

Carbone Spicy Rigatoni

This copycat Carbone Vodka Sauce is the absolute best pasta sauce you have ever had! Everyone will love how the spiciness is softened by the rich creamy smooth sauce. It coats the rigatoni pasta perfectly for the ultimate in Carbone Spicy Rigatoni. Be sure to have plenty of grated Parmesan-Reggiano on hand because it's the perfect topping for this delicious pasta recipe.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Pasta, Main Course, Dinner, Side Dish, One Pot Meal, Weeknight Dinner, Easy Dinner, gluten-free, 30 minute meals, baked rigatoni, one pan meal, vodka pasta sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 664kcal

Equipment

  • large stockpot for cooking pasta
  • 11"- 12" skillet or a large sauce pan

Ingredients

  • 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

optional

  • 4 springs fresh basil

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

I love chili pepper paste for an authentic Italian flavor, but you can easily substitute it with one of the following:
Mix 1 tablespoon ground red cayenne pepper with 1 tablespoon of cooking oil until a paste forms
OR
1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 664kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 422mg | Potassium: 526mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1322IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 151mg | Iron: 2mg
spicy vodka sauce with rigatoni in a casserole dish

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