Carmenta's Leaves No Mortadella Behind in its Vodka Sauce

By Kendyl Kearly | Jaclyn Warren


Kendyl Kearly
Jaclyn Warren

No New York dining experience is arguably as comforting as ordering pasta from the neighborhood spot on a snow day. With parmesan spidering over the top, a simple vodka sauce and pasta have great profit margins during the December sequester blues. But not all vodka sauces are created equal. Carmenta’s rigatoni vodka, a staple since the eatery opened, contains a game-changing ingredient: America’s finest mortadella. Chicago’s Tempesta maintains that their product is the best in the country due to its family-farm-raised, vegetarian-fed, heritage Berkshire and Duroc pigs. Chefs Paul Cacici and Domenick Gianfrancesco bring in this creamy, peppery mortadella (retailing at $75 for a piece that’s at least four pounds) for their sandwiches and save the ends for vodka sauce. A Berkshire version of the classic from Emilia-Romagna, the mortadella scraps get grinded up with a base guanciale (also from Tempesta). The chefs sweat the meats with a teeny bit of olive oil and onion, add tomato paste, Calabrian chile, white wine, vodka, tomato, garlic confit, and cream. The result is deep and unctuous with Calabrian chiles kicking up all of the melty, meaty goodness. 

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