NYC Memories of Rigatoni Alla Vodka


Rigatoni alla vodka was and forever will be my favourite pasta dish.


Well first let me tell you I’m struggling with typing ALLA not A LA, but such is the recipe, it’s Italian after all, not French! Ok, so for the proper definition, according to Wiki, “Penne alla vodka is a pasta dish made with vodka and penne pasta, usually made with heavy cream, crushed tomatoes, onions, and sometimes sausage, pancetta or peas. The recipe became very popular in Italy and in the United States around the 1980s, when it was also offered to discotheque customers.”

So much to unpack here. First: I used rigatoni, simply because I LOVE the way the fatter noodle not only hugs but fills with creamy sauce. Second: who knew this was a popular dish for disco patrons! I guess that’s the pure definition of CARB LOADING! Nonetheless, use penne or rigatoni but don’t stray from the recipe when making the sauce. It’s ALL about the sauce kids.

When did I first know alla vodka was “The One”?

So while I wasn’t at the disco at the time, I WAS living in NYC when I first tried this glorious pasta dish. Long Island to be specific. I took ONE year off from university to be a nanny for the most incredible family who, after 20+ years still love me almost as much as I love them. They actually came all the way to Mexico to be at our wedding, in case you want a quick detour while you wait for the sauce to cook!

But I digress. Let’s stay on task and get you this recipe! I hope you love it as much as I do. A perfect dish to make company that tastes like you’ve cooked all day, when really it’s pan to plate in under an hour!

Enjoy! Meg xo

PS if you want ANOTHER amazing recipe for company coming over, try my Chicken Lazone…heaven!

Rigatoni Alla Vodka

Al dente rigatoni pasta noodles tossed with a creamy rich tomato sauce heightened with a splash of cooked off vodka gives this entree two thumbs up, every single time!

Course dinner
Cuisine Italian
Keyword pasta


  • 1 box rigatoni pasta
  • 4 chicken cutlets boneless, skinless
  • 4 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot diced
  • 1/2 c vodka
  • 1 jar fresh tomato sauce equivalent of 1.5 cup
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1/2 c grated parm
  • 1 pinch red chili flakes
  • 1 pinch parsley optional


  1. Generously salt your water and bring to a boil. Add rigatoni and cook approx 10 minutes until al dente.

  2. While pasta is cooking pan fry 4 chicken cutlets in 2tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp butter, salt and pepper - aprox 5 mins per side depending on thickness. Take out of pan and let hang out.

  3. Add to pan 2 tbsp olive oil + 2 tbsp butter and let bubble.

  4. Add garlic, shallot and cook until house smells amazing.

  5. Add your 1/2 c vodka (OFF THE HEAT), then place pan back to heat and let the alcohol cook off, about 2 minutes stirring often so garlic and shallots don't burn.

  6. Add fresh tomato sauce, let bubble and stir for 5 more mins.

  7. Add heavy cream, 1 tbsp butter, parm, chili flakes and toss with sliced chicken and pasta.

    ENJOY! Meg xo



    • Meg Tucker says

      HAHAHH! Ok a cutlet would the chicken breast, already “butterflied” and cut in half. Butterflied is just the fancy way of saying split the chicken breast down the middle, then open up like a butterfly, flatten and slice. TIP: Any place you go to for a buffet/catering, they’ve butterflied the chicken breasts. Easy way to stretch the budget, doubles your chicken!

      Bottom line, you just want flattened, they cook faster! I know Walmart and most grocery stores that sell Maple Leaf sell them already “cutlet”ed, but you can ABSOLUTELY cut it yourself, with a steady hand then something to whack it thin with. “that’s what she said” hahahahah

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