Penne a la Vodka (Nick and Toni’s Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola)

Adapted from Food Network


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 large Spanish onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1.5 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled plum tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound penne pasta
  • 4 tablespoons fresh oregano
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 375-F degrees.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large oven proof sauté pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent.
  4. Add the red pepper flakes and dried oregano and cook for 1 minute more.
  5. Add the vodka and continue cooking until the mixture is reduced by half.
  6. Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes through a sieve and crush them into the pan with your hands.
  7. Add salt and a pinch of black pepper. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and place it in the oven for 1.5 hours.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente. Drain and set aside.
  10. Place the tomato mixture in a blender and puree in batches until the sauce is a smooth consistency. Return to the pan.
  11. Reheat the sauce, add 2 tablespoons fresh oregano and enough heavy cream to make the sauce a creamy consistency.
  12. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  13. Toss the pasta into the sauce and cook for 2 minutes more.
  14. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan. Serve with an additional sprinkle of Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh oregano on each plate.
Simpson Brand San Marzano Style Tomatoes are by far my favorite