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The Perfect Pasta Pomodoro

By: Pia Baroncini

September 09, 2022

I want you to know how to make this.

This is not marinara sauce, this is not gravy. And by the way, those are wonderful things. But this is pomodoro. This is how Davide grew up making pasta and it’s just divine. It’s LIGHT - the opposite of what I’m used to and a word I would have never associated with pasta. I grew up with SAUCE. Like Scorsese shit. My grandma would start it in the morning. I will NEVER forget the first time Davide cooked for her. For context, her family was from Bari. Her mother didn’t speak English, and wasn’t the warmest woman. She was tough, she was an immigrant. All the Italians lived in the same neighborhood, all walking distance from each other in Glendale. She died almost two years ago at the age of 99, right before her 100th birthday and the birth of Carmela, in the house she had lived in for almost 70 years. She was tough like her mom, especially on me, but she melted for Davide. A real Italian man in our family…she swooned, he crooned and I rolled my eyes. It was a lot of “Pia whaat are you doing with your hair” and “oh Davide are you getting moooore handsome?” When he made her his version of “sauce”, this simple pomodoro recipe with perfectly al dente spaghetti, the room was silent. She was a hater, but a lover of Davide, and a woman who held her position in our family with her sauce.The idea that his was wildly different almost felt like a personal attack on her “Italianness”. You could cut the tension with a knife. “I don’t like al dente,” she said. We carried on to distract ourselves, keeping eye on her plate as the pasta slowly disappeared. When dinner was over, she held his face, kissed him, and whispered “it was DELICIOUS” so no one else could hear it. Crying yet? I have one more.

We tried for a long time to conceive a child. We miscarried, we were told by an IVF doctor it was impossible for me to stay pregnant if I was able to get pregnant on my own. It was almost two years and we were tired. We decided IVF was our only choice, but there was SOMETHING telling me I needed to wait, that something was off. I was in a bad place mentally and physically so we decided to just completely stop trying and give ourselves a break, like a 3-6 month break. Davide was working super late one night and we had these divine tomatoes from the farmers market. I wanted to make him dinner, something special. I had been way too scared to make him pasta, but I got some "fuck it" in my system and decided to make him pomodoro, the way he had shown me so many times before. I remembered the important parts - multiple tomatoes, good quality tomatoes, and to really let the sauce cook down until it’s almost a paste and make it creamy with the pasta water. It was so good he cried - he said it tasted like his mothers. And then 10 months later Camela was born.

So what did we learn from these little stories? First - good quality is key. The reason “sauce” or gravy came to be was because America’s produce and products didn’t taste the same as they did in Italy. They added ingredients to add flavor. So get good tomatoes!!!! Second - sometimes it’s nice to let go and trust that what you're doing is the right thing, even if it’s scary.

Ok let's get to it.


This is for around 4 people.

• GOOD FRESH TOMATOES - around a cup and a half. Dark red littles.

• GOOD PASTA - you want Partanna

• GOOD OLIVE OIL - Baroncini, duh

• 1/2 can of tomatoes

• anchovies - 2

• white onion - a little more than a half

• garlic - 2 to 3 depending on your garlic preference

• some fresh basil  - around 5 leaves

• salt

All items are independently selected by yours truly.
*Prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

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Caraway Home
Fry Pan
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Caraway Home
Sauce Pan


It’s best to follow the video, because it’s really more of a feeling but here’s what I can tell you:

1. Get some water boiling and make sure to add salt - I’d say 1/4 cup.

2. Add olive oil, chopped onion and 2 anchovies to the pan on med/low. For the garlic, sometimes he does the garlic only in the skin, sometimes he does some in the skin and one finely cut into little silvers. Cook until the onions are clear and the anchovies are melted. DO NOT BROWN THE ONION OR GARLIC. Slow and steady.

3. Add the chopped tomatoes and let them cook down a bit. Then add basil - full leaves don't chop. Then add the can of tomatoes.

4. COOK IT DOWN, look at the video, until it’s almost a paste. Give it at least 30 minutes on lowish. 

5. Add the pasta to the boiling water.

6. After 5 minutes, add the pasta to the tomatoes with a cup or so of water. You need to feel this out. You do not want it watery, so add a cup and stir like crazy. The pasta absorbs the water and the sauce. It's epic. It gets creamy from the starch. This should be like 3 minutes max so you don’t overcook it! You’ll know when it's done. If not, you’ll get it right the second time.

7. I love you

Dress the part


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