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Ilvento’s Penne alla Vodka

Ilvento’s Penne alla Vodka

The Ilvento family opened their first Italian restaurant in 1933. Decades later, they’re still making sauce the old-fashioned way, right here in Santa Barbara.

Every batch has been handmade and slow-cooked since the Prohibition era. Fortunately, there have been a few welcome updates, like the inclusion of alcohol. For a true SoCal classic at home, try Joe Ilvento’s signature recipe for penne alla vodka.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 shallots or 1/2 cup chopped onion

  • 1/4 pound pancetta or bacon chopped

  • 1/2 cup vodka

  • 10 ounces Ilvento’s Sugo Marinara

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 12 ounces penne pasta cooked and drained

  • Parmesan to garnish


  1. Sauté shallots or onions in olive oil over low heat until translucent, stirring frequently.
  2. Add pancetta or bacon and continue cooking over low heat until very lightly browned.
  3. Add vodka and scrape pan to loosen browned bits.
  4. Add Ilvento’s Sugo Marinara and simmer over medium heat until alcohol cooks off, approximately 5 minutes.
  5. Add cooked penne and mix well.
  6. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.
  7. Garnish with fresh basil or oregano.
  8. Enjoy!
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