Restaurant-level bucatini, at home! A spicy, briney, smokey red sauce clinging to delicious chewy bucatini noodles.
Lush, spicy red sauce speckled with crispy little pancetta bits, savory Italian sausage, and slivers of briney, bitey pepperoncini, absolutely soaking some perfectly chewy bucatini pasta.
This pasta is inspired by an absolute favorite menu item at local Italian superstar, Mucci’s. Their take on arrabbiata sauce with fresh bucatini is truly swoon-worthy. “Arrabbiata,” meaning “angry” in Italian, is a spicy red sauce that gets its heat from simmering with red pepper flakes. Mucci’s does kind of an arrabiata+, by tossing in pepperoncini for a heat boost, as well as some Italian sausage and pancetta for a smoky savory swirl throughout.
And the results? Well, A++++++.
In This Post: Everything You Need For This Bucatini
The Restaurant That Inspired It All
Mucci’s Italian in St. Paul is a cozy unassuming little place with a short menu full of fresh housemade pastas, amazing pizzas (hello quick-fried dough), and other delicious bits and bobs. Sometimes there’s the occasional doughnut-meets-biscuit, “doughscuits” available only on weekend mornings until they sell out (which happens quickly). There’s a cute new patio now and when we’re not ordering this house bucatini, we’re devouring the hangover kale or the cacio e pepe, or the Camilla pizza (with FRIED CHICKEN, y’all!).
It’s a truly beloved local spot with utterly craveable Italian fare that will stay in your hearts and you’ll just kind of be walking around wanting it always? So much so that a few of their pizzas are now sold in some local grocery stores here in the metro because apparently enough people were like “MUCCI’S ALL THE TIME NOW FOREVER PLZ.” Also us. So, here we are.
Bringing a little Mucci’s love letter to you.
What’s In The Not-So-Secret Sauce
A red sauce needs patience and love, most importantly. But listen, pancetta for smokiness and pepperoncini for a briney kick CERTAINLY ISN’T GOING TO HURT. Those are just two of our fave parts about this special sauce.
Ingredients are important because the flavors have time to really concentrate. We’re using San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand, because their natural sweetness makes this sauce sing. Make sure the red pepper flakes are fresh so the heat is really there. It is a take on arrabbiata, after all. Choose an Italian sausage you love because there’s nothing to distract from it.
The pancetta base is killer and it’s important that you get those little bits extra crispy at the start. Not only to render maximum flavor but also so when you add them back into the sauce later, they turn into delicious little salty chewy bursts in the sauce and not devastatingly unappealing little globby bits.
This recipe uses a mild Italian sausage but you could certainly use hot if you really want to get this spice party turned up. Otherwise, the red pepper flakes simmering around in there are going to give you a beautifully warm kick.
A surprise stunner is the sliced pepperoncini that get just folded into the sauce at the end. The little pop of brine and heat cutting throughout all that luscious, smoky, deeply savory sauce…welp, floated away on a cloud even thinking about it.
What Is Bucatini?
Bucatini is sort of a macaroni meets spaghetti mashup situation. All the fun of a macaroni tube, but it’s long and twirl-able like spaghetti. It’s also got a little more heft so it can really hang onto your sauce, and whoo-boy, you’re going to want every drip of this sauce hung onto.
If you wanna be a boss like Mucci’s, and you’re a fancy pasta-making type person, wowowowow, you could certainly make your own. But if you are a little more like us and that is just not in the cards, you can often find some at the grocery store. And if that’s not a noodle on your store shelves, you can grab some here. (affiliate link)
And listen, the sauce is really key here, so of course other pastas will work just great. If you want to use an egg noodle like a tagliatelle, that might be even closer to the original in terms of texture. But we definitely wanted to get into that twirly-twisty, chewy little noodle straw game with the bucatini.
How To Make This Seriously Delicious Pasta
Luckily the key ingredient here is patience, not difficulty. So it really comes together without too much prep.
- Pancetta and sausage. Cook the pancetta until well-done and crispy to really concentrate that flavor. Remove and drain. Add Italian sausage and brown until cooked through, remove but save a little oil in the pan.
- Onions and garlic. Sautéed in the reserved oil until soft and fragrant, then in goes tomato paste and let that go a couple minutes more until dark and rust-colored.
- Tomatoes and spices. Add crushed San Marzanos (did you crush them by hand? we hope so!), along with salt, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Add sausage and pancetta back in to the pot.
- Simmer and pepperoncini. Cover and let it go for at least 30 minutes. Add any broth needed for desired consistency and then toss in the pepperoncini and simmer a few minutes more until they are soft.
Then start tossing this spicy sauce magic over piles on piles of chewy noodle twirls, shower it with grated pecorino for a creamy salty finish, and HELLO, it’s a little Mucci’s nod right in your own kitchen.
Depending on how many you’re cooking for, this batch makes enough to have a jar of sauce to tuck away for next time. And by “next time,” we mean probably immediately following dinner when everyone looks down at their empty plates wondering why this dream has to end? It doesn’t.
So if you can’t get to Mucci’s Italian (although we totally understand and support you booking your trip to MN right now), we hope this will bring a little bit of that joy to your table.
Bucatini: Frequently Asked Questions
It won’t be *quite* as good, but bacon would be a good substitute here for that delicious smokiness.
What really makes this recipe is the smokiness from the pancetta and sausage, so we’d probably opt for a different recipe. However, it’s possible that some smoked paprika would be a good stand-in. We haven’t tried, but would love to hear how it is if you give it a try!
It’s got a kick! But it’s easy to adjust – just omit the red pepper flakes (or reduce them). You could also reduce the pepperoncini, but the spicy really comes from the red pepper flakes.
Restaurant-level bucatini, at home! A spicy, briney, smokey red sauce clinging to delicious chewy bucatini noodles. Inspired by Mucci’s Italian in St. Paul, MN.
- In a large heavy pot like a Dutch oven, cook the pancetta over medium high heat until very, very browned. You want them to be well-done; browned, almost crispy, and concentrated with flavor. Remove pancetta and set aside; drain oil out of the pan.
- In the same pot, brown the Italian sausage until cooked through and crumbled. Remove sausage and set aside, saving a little bit of the oil in the pan.
- In the same pot, add the onion and garlic. (Add a bit of olive oil if needed.) Sauté until soft and fragrant. Add tomato paste and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add crushed tomatoes, salt, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Add sausage and pancetta back in to the pot. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Add the broth until desired consistency is reached. Add butter if you want.
- Add pepperoncini. Simmer for 5 more minutes until the pepperoncini are very soft but not broken down.
- Cook bucatini according to package directions; drain and return to pot. Pour sauce over cooked bucatini and keep over heat for a few minutes to help the sauce and noodles come together.
- Top bucatini with pecorino cheese! MWAH. What a moment.
This amount of sauce is good for an entire package of bucatini (8 servings). However, I find that we rarely cook a full package of bucatini. I usually use about half of the sauce for half a package of bucatini (about 4 servings). The rest of the sauce will freeze well or keep in the fridge for several days.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Kitchen: Italian
Keywords: bucatini recipe, Mucci’s Italian, pasta recipe, spicy pasta recipe