Scarpetta’s Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Garlic Basil Oil

Scarpetta's Spaghetti Recipe

Scarpetta in New York City is most famous for its Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil.

People pay $24 for a serving.

Yes, that’s right: twenty-four dollars.

And we’re not talking about the family-style mound you’d find in a sticky-floored Italian joint. This is one of those fancy-restaurant, daintily plated serving sizes. If you twirl your fork three times, you’d get it all. Don’t believe me?

But people love it. Although I haven’t been to the restaurant myself, I’ve read the endless rave reviews and since there were too many variations for the recipe online, I just had to call the restaurant directly for the recipe.

And the secret to their famous pasta its simplicity.

Oh, and butter.

Scarpetta's Spaghetti Recipe


To make Scarpetta’s Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Garlic Basil Oil, you’ll first work the tomato. Cut each tomato in half and scoop out the seeds with your fingers. You can use plum tomatoes or regular tomatoes, whichever is freshest. You want a smooth, intensely flavored sauce…and watery seeds don’t belong.


The Garlic Basil Oil has just a few ingredients – fresh basil, sliced garlic and chili flakes.

Garlic Basil Oil Ingredients

Infuse the ingredients in hot olive oil and let sit on stove for 20 minutes or more: 10 minutes on low-low-low heat and then 10 minutes off the heat. The longer you let it steep, the more flavorful the oil will be. You won’t use all of the oil – strain, discard the solids and refrigerate for a few days and use in other recipes. Do not store the garlic in oil at room temperature.

Garlic Basil Oil

Just before serving, drizzle or toss the pasta with the Garlic Basil Oil.

Drizzle with Garlic Basil Oil



Scarpetta's Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Garlic Basil Oil

Servings: 4 Prep Time: Cook Time:

adapted from Scott Conant and Scarpetta

Chef Conant likes to use 20 ripe plum tomatoes (no canned). My adaptation includes canned tomatoes as well because I find it works better. Tomatoes used for canning are picked at the peak of ripeness, and many times the fresh tomatoes I find at the market are just so-so. Feel free to use all fresh, all canned or a combination. Don't expect the usual sauce-heavy spaghetti. Conant's recipe is light; the barely there sauce combined with the basil-garlic oil is so full of intense flavors, you don't need to drown your pasta.


4 ripe organic tomatoes (preferably plum tomatoes)
One 12-ounce can of San Marzano or organic whole tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of crushed red chili pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ounce freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1/2 cup)
6 to 8 fresh basil leaves, well washed and dried, stacked and rolled into a cylinder and sliced thinly crosswise into a chiffonade
1 pound spaghetti, either high-quality dry or homemade
For the Basil-Garlic Oil:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6-8 whole cloves garlic
10 whole fresh basil leaves
Generous pinch crushed red chili pepper flakes


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water nearby. Cut a small X on the bottom of each tomato. Ease the tomatoes into the pot and boil for about 15 seconds, then promptly move them to the waiting ice water. (Continue with the remaining tomatoes.) Pull off the skin with the tip of a paring knife. If the skin sticks, try a vegetable peeler using a gentle sawing motion. Cut the tomatoes in half and use your finger to flick out the seeds.

2. In a wide pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until quite hot. Add the fresh and canned tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and season lightly with the salt and pepper. (I always start with a light hand with the salt and pepper because as the tomatoes reduce, the salt will become concentrated.) Let the tomatoes cook for a few minutes to soften. Then, using a potato masher, chop the tomatoes finely. Cook the tomatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened. (You can make the sauce, which yields about 2-3 cups, ahead of time. Refrigerate it for up to two days or freeze it for longer storage.)

3. While the tomatoes are cooking, make the basil-garlic oil. Heat a small saucepan over low heat with 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic cloves, basil leaves and pepper flakes. Keep the heat on low to allow the ingredients to warm slowly and release their flavors. When the garlic is lightly browned, turn heat off and let cool for 10 minutes. The longer you let the oil sit, the more infused the oil. Strain the oil, discarding the solids.

4. To cook the spaghetti, bring a large pot of amply salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until just shy of al dente and drain, reserve a little of the pasta cooking water.

5. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and cook over medium-high heat, gently tossing the pasta and the sauce together with a couple of wooden spoons and a lot of exaggerated movement (you can even shake the pan) until the pasta is just tender and the sauce, if any oil had separated from it, now looks cohesive. (If the sauce seems too thick, add a little pasta cooking liquid to adjust it.) Remove the pan from the heat and toss the butter, basil and cheese with the pasta in the same manner (the pasta should take on an orange hue). Drizzle with just a bit of the basil-garlic oil on each plate (you might not use all of it).

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Comments 108

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  2. Al Vasquez

    Wonderful recipe Jaden…made it last night…brilliant to use with lots of fresh plum tomatos hand. Light, fresh, delicious!

  3. Carolyn Toczek

    After reading all the reviews I ran out and got fresh tomatoes and made this last night. The reviews were right on! Excellent! I recommend drizzling more oil than you think you need on the top at the end. It’s so flavorful! Even my 3 year old grandson complimented me on it–I guess he’s a garlic fan!

  4. TJ

    I made this over the weekend with my mom’s home grown heirloom tomatoes and with such simple ingredients, it was very tasty! I was very glad the dish looked like your pictures and before even tasting it, I knew it would be good and I was not disappointed!

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  6. anthony

    I am going to give this recipe a try. I really enjoy all the high quality photos that have been included. It truly helps a person like me successfully cook a recipe by following directions with wonderful photos.

  7. Lanz

    Scott Conant himself demonstrated this recipe on “No Reservations” a few months ago (the Techniques Special- such a great episode!), but this time instead of just drizzling some of the infused oil onto the pasta right before serving, he added the entire infusion into the tomato sauce before adding the pasta. I can imagine how much more intense those flavors become when doing so! Have you tried adding all the infused oil into the sauce?

    1. SteamyKitchen

      I haven’t, but I’ve used the infusion in salad dressing. Leftover sauce combined with chicken stock makes a wonderful soup base (I’ve done w/sausage, celery, carrots w/lg piece of toasted bread on top drizzled some of the oil on top just before serving)

  8. lesley

    i really love your site!
    have tried a lot of your recipes and they’re all good! 🙂
    will try to get a hold of your cookbook one of these days.

    read the link about garlic in oil…
    thanks for the info!
    i’ve occasionally done that and didn’t know it was a no-no!

    how about used corn oil?
    after filtering, is it okay to store it at room temp or should
    i place it on the fridge?

  9. SteamyKitchen

    It’s the garlic specifically that’s dangerous to store in oil (not the type of oil) – after filtering, keep in your refrigerator, but make sure you use it rather quickly!

  10. skippy pea

    Thank you sooo much for the recipe, both you and the chefs at Scarpetta! It turned out great!

    One sure fire outstanding recipe in my repertoire now!

  11. Janet

    Watch this recipe featured on Alton Brown’s “Top 10 Best Comfort Foods” show last night on the FoodNetwork and had to find the recipe today!! Should have known google would lead me right to my favorite food blog of all time for the answer!

    Thank YOU!

  12. maila

    i just made this just now and i must tell you that this recipe is incredibly delicious! best spaghetti i have ever had. i used all marzano canned tomatoes. that basil-garlic oil is wonderfully intense in flavor. thanks a lot for this recipe!

    1. paige stefani

      if i use canned san marzano tomato’s, how much do i use in lieu of fresh. We don’t have fresh available right now that are decent.

      thank you…..a friend made this dish last night at book club and it was amazing!

      1. Post
  13. Christina

    The garlic-basil oil is real wonderful and flavourful! It gives the spaghetti the ‘omph’ effect!

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  15. Not what Conant says he does.

    Conant says he pours the Basic-Garlic oil into the sauce. He doesn’t drizzle it over the pasta at the end.

    “Strain that oil, take your tomato sauce off the heat, and stir the oil in.”


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  17. STK

    OMG! This turned out so good! The recipe is a keeper. The best spaghetti I ever had. And feel really good that its homemade!
    Thanks so much!

  18. Marcus

    It taste good and also remind me of vacations in Italy.
    When i ordered spaghetti it was without tomato but now i understand why it taste so good because of the olive oil.
    It’s simple but very tasteful.Even the kids loves it.

  19. gonzi

    I did everything pretty much as is described above, except that I tossed the basil, red chilli flakes and garlic pods back into the sauce, after straining it, I thought it helped cut the sweetness of the tomatoes I used. We love our spice, so I used about 3 to 4 tablespoons of red chilli flakes in the course of cooking (in the sauce and a bit more in the oil preparation), as well. Turned out awesome.

    Awesome website SteamyKitchen!

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  22. Lis

    This is a fantastic recipe. I used Romas fresh from my garden. The garlic and basil were also from my garden. A simple yet very flavorful recipe. Loved the addition of the infused olive oil. Perfect with a salad and crusty bread. Definitely a keeper.

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  24. Danielli

    Wow! This is the best pasta I ever had! And I made it! I used Anne Burrell’s pasta dough recipe. I made to a t , exept I double the sauce and add some of the oil to the sauce (as opposed to adding it to the plate). Supple, velvety, rich, amazing! It’s labor intensive, but worth it! How can I go back to store bought pasta? I’m ruined forever…thanks for the post.

  25. Lynn Budin

    OMG! This sauce is to die for. I agree it is labor intensive but well worth the effort.

    My husband is a foody and has always has suggestions to improve any sauce I’ve made … well not this time … he said it was absolutely delicious and he wouldn’t want me change a thing.

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  27. onaa

    hi there…
    thanks for posting the recipe, i’ll try to make it at my jome…
    i’m from indonesia but i love italian foods…
    i wanna ask,, in indonesia there’s no Basil leaf, so can i change into another leaf???? or is it okay if i not use basil leaf?

  28. Fernando

    Thank you so mucho for this fantastic, easy, powerful taste recipe. I tried it last night to pet myself, and I got a resound acclamation !!!!

  29. Adam

    This is the most complete version of this recipe I’ve found online, thanks for that! Most of the others are incorrect, miss details, or don’t include the infused EVO.

    Any particular homemade spaghetti recipe you like?

  30. Spharm

    Just got this recipe from Gojee…delicious!So my husband and i love garlic, so instead of draining the infused olive oil i mashed the garlic and threw it all in the pasta. It was fantastic! I have my husband rate all of my recipes and this is tied with my fillet mignon. Thank you fot this amazing recipe (and the gorgeous photos)!

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  33. annelie

    Made this tonight and, wow, the infused olive oil changed pasta forever for me.. Thanks!!

  34. camille

    this looks to be a wonderful recipe! love the photos and everyone’s review of it is glowing with praise. can i ask though, if i can replace the freshly grated parmesan with processed parmesan? here in the philippines, freshly grated parmesan is quite a bit more expensive than the pre-grated parmesan. thank you in advance for your response!

  35. andy

    This recipe is DELICIOUS! Can’t say this enough. Such a nice break from all the jarred varieties. Only thing I did differently was to strain the basil garlic olive oil directly into the sauce and let that simmer for about an additional 10 minutes.

    Also, I’ve tried it with both fresh and canned tomatoes, and let me tell you, brother (and sister), unless the fresh tomatoes are directly from your own garden (i.e., really tasty), it is not worth the extra effort. The tomatoes at my local markets are rarely very good, so I use a single 28 oz can of the San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes (along with their juices) for my sauce and it works brilliantly.

    Adults and kids both loved it. Now officially in my rotation. SteamyKitche, you are RAD!

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  39. Chris Duncan

    This sounds really interesting! Has anyone tried it with other types of pasta; I wanted to give it a go with some wholewheat penne but I am concerned that the pasta might not be delicate enough to work well with the basil oil.

  40. Fleur

    Italian food is not something I make a lot, and I prefer cream base pasta instead of tomato base…BUT this recipe has made me a fan. I made it exactly as the recipe says, but I’ve added prawns. I simply love the sauce. I keep on wondering why it was slightly sweet when the recipe does not have any at all. I enjoyed to the last bite and thanks Jaden for sharing the recipe. It’s now part of my favourite dishes.

    1. Post
  41. Malin Andersson

    Hi Jaden. Wonderful recipe you have shared. I have made it last Sunday. It was made so tasty and delicious. Brilliant to use with lots of fresh plum tomatoes. It made the recipe very delicious, fresh and light.

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