Penne alla vodka

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Penne alla vodka
Course Pasta
Place of origin USA
Main ingredients Penne, vodka, cream, tomatoes, onions
Cookbook: Penne alla vodka  Media: Penne alla vodka

Penne alla vodka is an American pasta dish always made with vodka and penne pasta, often made with heavy cream, crushed tomatoes, onions, and sometimes sausage or bacon.


The exact origins of penne alla vodka are unclear; there have been multiple claims to the invention of the dish. According to Pasquale Bruno, Jr., author of The Ultimate Pasta Cookbook, penne alla vodka was invented at Dante, a restaurant in Bologna, Italy.[1] Other historians of the culinary arts recognize James Doty, a graduate of Columbia University, as the inventor of penne alla vodka.[2] Others recognize Luigi Franzese as the inventor and claim that the dish was originally known as Penne alla Russa. [3][4] According to this version, the dish was prepared for the first time at the New York City restaurant Orsini when Franzese used a nearby glass of Russian vodka to thin a tomato sauce. [5] His daughter, law professor Paula Franzese, regularly tells the story of her father's invention of penne alla vodka in her lectures for BarBri, a company that helps law school graduates pass the bar exam. [5] [6]

The Williams Sonoma Essentials of Italian cookbook states that it was invented in the 1980s by a Roman chef for a vodka company that wanted to popularize its product in Italy.[7]


Along with the penne pasta, this dish generally contains cream sauce mixed with tomatoes or red sauce, which are a combination unusual in Italian cooking because the acidity of the tomatoes tends to make the oil in the cream separate. The vodka serves as an emulsifier, allowing the water and lipids to remain mixed together. It is also thought to release certain flavors from the tomato that would otherwise be inaccessible. This is seen in other vodka sauces, as well.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The ultimate pasta cookbook By Pasquale Bruno New York : Contemporary Books, 1997. ISBN 978-0-8092-3169-0
  2. ^ Famous Italian Recipes By Justin M. Rotundo-Shanes, Boston: G. Lee Press, 1981.
  3. ^ Manfrin, Anna. "Penne alla Vodka - Vintage Italian Pasta". ganzo. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  4. ^ The Joe Franklin Show (RKO General broadcast March 2, 1979).
  5. ^ a b Gillingham, Sara Kate. "Good Question: Who Invented Penne alla Vodka?". the kitchn. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  6. ^ BarBri Bar Review, "Real Property II," lecture by Paula Franzese, June 18, 2015
  7. ^ Essentials of Italian. Steve Seigelman. Williams Sonoma books, 2008.

External links[edit]