fbpx vie magazine subscribe button

My Penne “Alla Bettola” with Tomato and Vodka

by amber guinness | photo by robyn Lea | from A House Party in Tuscany

This dish is my imitation of the famous house dish of creamy tomato penne cooked with vodka that is served at Alla Vecchia Bettola, a fabulous restaurant in Florence, Italy. I devised this recipe in a fit of desperate craving—at a time when I was not in Florence and unable to go to the restaurant.

What’s unusual and delicious about the Alla Vecchia Bettola dish is the use of “smooth” penne lisce, meaning that there aren’t any ridges for the sauce to cling to. For that reason, the final stage of cooking the penne happens in the sauce so that the pasta soaks up the tomato, chili, and vodka. For the pasta to be al dente, it’s vital that you only cook the penne in boiling water for two-thirds of the time recommended on the package before transferring it to the pan with the sauce for the last third of the cooking process. For instance, De Cecco penne will take eleven minutes to cook al dente; I would therefore cook the pasta in boiling water for seven to eight minutes and transfer the penne to the sauce for the last two to three minutes.

Preparation time: A couple of minutes to organize the ingredients

Cooking time: 1 hour

Serves 6


  • 1/2 tablespoon chili flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) olive oil
  • 1 bottle (24.5 ounces) (680-700 g) tomato passata (Italian puréed tomatoes)
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vodka
  • 7/8 cup (200 ml) light cream
  • 1.1 lb (500 g) penne lisce (smooth) or penne rigate (ridged)
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) Parmesan cheese, grated - plus extra, to serve
  • A handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped, to serve


In a large frying pan, gently heat the chili flakes and garlic in the oil for 3 to 5 minutes over medium heat. Allow the garlic to infuse, but do not let it brown. Add the bottle of passata to the chili and garlic, together with a generous pinch of salt. Half-fill the bottle with water, swish it around to pick up any remaining passata, and pour the tomatoey water into the pan. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid has reduced by a third.

Put a large pan of well-salted water on to boil.

Pour the vodka into the reduced liquid, stir, and increase the heat to high. Allow to bubble for 5 minutes so that the alcohol evaporates, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cream and switch to low heat while the pasta cooks.

Once the pasta cooking water is at a lively boil, add the penne. After the pasta has been cooking for 8 minutes, use a slotted spoon to transfer the pasta from the water to the tomato sauce. Add a ladleful of the starchy pasta cooking water if the sauce looks like it needs help to fully coat the pasta. Turn up the heat and allow to bubble and cook for a further 3 minutes, then stir in the Parmesan.

Remove the pasta from the heat and transfer it to a serving bowl. Top with a little chopped parsley and some freshly grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.


— V —

Excerpted from A House Party in Tuscany by Amber Guinness © Thames & Hudson Australia 2022 Text © Amber Guinness 2022 Reprinted by permission of Thames & Hudson Inc, www.ThamesandHudsonUSA.com

Read Responsibly

December 2023, Holiday Issue, Christmas, VIE Magazine, Lisa Burwell, Cover, Gift Guide, Holidays
Marisol Gullo, Not Too Shabby, Home, Decor, Interior Design, Santa Rosa Beach, Churchill Oaks
VIE Magazine September 2023 Jay Mercado
VIE Magazine - The Art & Design Issue November 2021
VIE Magazine January 2021 Special Commemorative Edition
VIE Magazine September 2020 Wanderlust Issue, Fancy Camps, The Idea Boutique
VIE Magazine August 2020 Art & Culture Issue, Nathan Alan Yoakum Art
VIE Magazine - Architecture & Design Issue - July 2020
VIE Magazine - Decor and Home Issue - June 2020
VIE Magazine May 2020 Entertainment Issue, Leslie Odom Jr
VIE Magazine - April 2020 Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine March 2020 The Fashion Edit, VONDOM, Alys Beach Fl, Digital Graffiti, Tres Chic, isidro dunbar Modern Interiors, Digital Graffiti Festival
VIE Magazine February 2020 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Travel Issue - January 2020 - Tanzania Safari Cover
VIE Magazine - Women's Issue - December 2019 - Tina Brown Cover
VIE NOV19 Goodness Issue
VIE Magazine, September 2019 Art & Culture Issue, Paul Hanninen
VIE Magazine - August 2019 - The Architecture and Design Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2019 - The Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - June 2019 - Fashion Edit
VIE Magazine - May 2019 - Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine - April 2019 - The Health & Wellness Issue
VIE Magazine - Special Entertainment Edition - March 2019
VIE Magazine February 2019 Luxury Homes & Technology Issue with Robbie Antonio of Revolution Precrafted
VIE Magazine - January 2019 - Southern Sophisticate Issue Cover
VIE Magazine - Special Anniversary Travel Edition - December 2018
VIE Magazine - The Goodness Issue - November 2018
VIE Magazine - The Art & Culture Issue - October 2018
VIE Magazine - Home & Garden Issue - September 2018
VIE Magazine - August 2018 Animal Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2018 Architecture & Design Issue - Subscribe to the magazine!
VIE Magazine - June 2018 Travel & Tech Issue
VIE Magazine - May 2018 Couture Issue
VIE Magazine - The Culinary Issue - April 2018 Cover - Chef James Briscione and Brooke Parkhurst
VIE Magazine - The Entertainers Issue - March 2018
VIE Magazine - February 2018 Destination Travel Issue
VIE Magazine - January 2018 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine, The Sophisticate Issue, December 2017
VIE Magazine - November 2017 Art & Culture Issue
VIE Magazine - October 2017 Home & Garden Issue
VIE Magazine | September 2017 | The Stories and Storytellers Issue
VIE Magazine - The Adventure Issue - August 2017
VIE Magazine - July 2017 - Art & Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - The Voyager Issue - June 2017
VIE magazine 2017 March-April Cover South Walton Fashion Week
VIE Magazine - January/February 2017 - The Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Nov/Dec 2016 The Sophisticate Issue
christian siriano vie magazine september october 2016 vie magazine
the modern minimalist issue
the culinary and couture issue march april 2016 vie magazine
the voyager issue alys beach vie magazine january february 2016
cultural issue vie magazine november december 2015
home and garden issue vie magazine september october 2015
the art and style issue vie magazine july august 2015
the wedding issue 2015 May June vie magazine
the food and fashion issue vie magazine march april 2015
the travel issue vie magazine january february 2015
the music issue vie magazine 2014 november december
The Animal Issue vie magazine september october 2014
the home and garden issue vie magazine july august 2014
the wedding issue vie magazine may june 2014
emeril lagasse food and fashion vie magazine
the men's issue january february 2014
the music issue november december 2013 vie magazine
the home and garden issue 2013 october september
the wedding issue vie magazine july august 2013
the artist issue may june 2013 vie magazine
the food and fashion issue march april 2013
the men's issue january february 2013 vie magazine
The Holiday Issue
the love issue july august 2012
the all american summer may june 2012
the entertainment issue march april 2012
the fashion issue vie magazine winter 2011
the home and garden issue vie magazine fall 2011
the anniversary edition vie magazine summer 2011
the wedding issue vie magazine spring 2011
vie magazine the holiday issue 2010 Dec
vintage swimsuits vie magazine 2010 Fall
judith march designer vie magazine summer 2010
wedding giveaway vie magazine spring 2010
holiday gift guide vie magazine winter 2009
emarketing explosion vie magazine fall 2009
tribute to mother's day vie magazine summer 2009
james and robert redford vie magazine spring 2009
zz top vie magazine fall winter 2008
project dreams vie magazine new york fashion week
Sign-up for VIEmail

Sign up for VIEmail