Italian arrabbiata sauce: original recipe from Rome and how to make it

Author: Veruska Anconitano, Award-Winning Food Travel Journalist, Sommelier & Outdoor LoverAuthor information
About the author
Veruska Anconitano
Veruska is a a food travel journalist with awards to her credit, such as World Best Food Travel Journalist. She holds a certification as a sommelier and she is also an ardent lover of the outdoors. Aside from this, Veruska is a Multilingual SEO and Localization Consultant and co-owns multiple websites that cater to a global audience.
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One of the most known Italian recipes from Rome is the so-called pasta arrabbiata, where arrabbiata translates to English as “angry” because of its essence, its flavor, and its spiciness.

Despite the appearances, there’s just one type of arrabbiata sauce in Italy and it doesn’t include any kind of meat, just tomato, and a few other ingredients.

Forget about the chicken arrabbiata someone has sold you as Italian recipe because it’s not and be ready to be amazed by the real arrabbiata sauce which will be able to make you cry for good.

Unlike carbonara and amatriciana, the arrabbiata does not have a strong tradition behind it and its origins are unknown; apparently, it was created to use ingredients always present in the houses of the Romans, like chili and tomato, as a simplification of the real amatriciana. It is certain, however, that the only cheese allowed is pecorino and never Parmesan: in fact, the Parmesan cheese would distort the final taste of the feathers, softening them, while the pecorino cheese sharpens its spiciness.

It is also not allowed to use onion, although many fry along with garlic: the onion tends to “dirty” the flavor of fried and makes the dish heavy and difficult to digest, so it should be avoided absolutely.

Ingredients for 4 portions

  • 400 grams of penne pasta
  • 400 grams of tinned tomatoes
  • 80 grams of pecorino romano cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 fresh chilies
  • parsley
  • salt
  • extra virgin olive oil


  1. Cut the garlic into small pieces and fry in a large pan with the chopped chili. Add the tomatoes cut into pieces, season with salt and cook for about 15 minutes without cover.
  2. Cook the pasta al dente (see this post for more information on how to cook your pasta perfectly) and then pour into the pan with the sauce leaving on the stove for a few minutes.
  3. Serve adding chopped fresh parsley and pecorino cheese.

Preparation time: 20 minutes


penne arrabbiata

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