What is pasta without the sauce? We’re not quite sure but it’s definitely a world we don’t want to live in.

Thankfully, our chefs have come to the rescue! Before you think “oh no, not another impossible restaurant recipe”, we included one for any skill level and vetted every recipe to ensure it’s home-friendly.

Prefer to purchase the sauce from the experts themselves? From Saranello’s to Osteria Via Stato, here are some restaurants selling pasta sauces and grocery items. 

cooking down tomatoes in a pot

Pantry 101

Before we start, let’s make sure your pantry is stocked with all of the essentials:

Olive Oil
Pepper (black, white, crushed red)


Beginner: Classic Basil Pesto

By Chef/Partner Mychael Bonner of Saranello’s

pesto ingredients overhead image

A super easy recipe that you’ll likely already have half the ingredients in your pantry. Whip this up for a last-minute dinner that’ll be ready in just a few minutes.

Main Ingredients: basil, pine nuts, garlic

Classic Basil Pesto

2 cloves fresh garlic
4 cups fresh basil, lightly packed
¼ cup lightly toasted pine nuts
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
½ tsp. black pepper
½ cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese

1. Combine garlic, basil, pine nuts, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until the ingredients are roughly chopped.
2. Continue to pulse and add the olive oil until it’s incorporated.
3. Transfer the sauce to a mixing bowl and add cheese.
4. Keep covered in the regrigerator for up to ten days.

To download a pdf of Saranello’s Pesto recipe, click here and to see three more pesto variations, click here.

Beginner-Intermediate: Bolognese

Courtesy of il Porcellino

il Porcellino gnocchi bolognese

Don’t let the laundry list of ingredients intimidate you, you’re likely to have most of these in your pantry already! We recommend it with a nice potato gnocchi but pairs well with any pasta your heart desires.

Main Ingredients: ground beef, canned tomatoes

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 lbs. ground beef
2 Tbsp. unsalted cold butter, cubed and divided
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped and divided
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
½ cup tomato juice
2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped

1. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and cook, breaking up meat, until caramelized, about 6-8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove beef from pot and set aside.
2. Add 1 Tbsp. butter, carrot, onion and garlic to pot; cook until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in rosemary and reserved beef; season with salt and black pepper.
3. Pour in crushed tomatoes; bring to a rapid simmer and cook 5 minutes.
4. Add tomato juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 2 Tbsp butter. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

To download a pdf of il Porcellino’s Gnocchi Bolognese recipe, click here.

Intermediate: Lobster Mac & Cheese

Courtesy of Shaw’s Crab House

Shaws Lobseter Mac and Cheese
Shaw’s Lobster Mac and Cheese

Whoever said seafood and cheese don’t go together clearly has not eaten at Shaw’s. A decadent version of our favorite childhood meal, the Lobster Mac & Cheese is not for the faint of heart.

Main Ingredients: lobster, Merkt’s cheddar cheese, brie and parmesan cheeses

5 cups heavy cream
4 oz. Merkt’s cheddar cheese
4 oz. brie cheese
¼ cup parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon lobster base
1 teaspoon cornstarch (mixed with 1 teaspoon water)
1 lb. cavatappi pasta
12 oz. cooked Maine lobster meat *claw and knuckle preferred
Parmesan cheese
Chopped parsley
Toasted panko


1. Remove rind from brie cheese. In a large sauce pot combine heavy cream, lobster base, brie cheese, and white and red pepper. Bring to a boil.
2. Slowly add Merkt’s cheddar cheese, whisking constantly. Return to a simmer and add cornstarch slowly.
3. Once thickened to coat a spoon, remove from heat.
4. Add parmesan cheese and blend using hand blender for 1 minute.
5. Bring a large pot to a rapid boil and add pasta. Cook until al dente.
6. Remove from heat and drain pasta.
7. Toss cooked pasta with cheese sauce and cooked lobster meat.
8. Portion mac & cheese into dishes. Top each dish with fresh parsley, grated parmesan and toasted breadcrumbs.

To download a pdf of Shaw’s Lobster Mac & Cheese recipe, click here.

Expert: Spinach & Ricotta Cheese Gnocchi

By Chef Mychael Bonner of Saranello’s

Saranellos spinach and ricotta gnocchi

Okay, okay, this one is more making the pasta rather than the sauce, but if you’re at this level of epicurean achievement we figure you’re up for the challenge. So here goes:

Main Ingredients: spinach, ricotta, 00 flour

3 cups Spinach, washed
1 ¼ lbs Ricotta, drained
1 Egg yolk
1 cup Grana Padana Parmesan, freshly grated
1 cup fresh Breadcrumbs
1 tsp Salt
¼ tsp ground Black Pepper
½ tsp ground Nutmeg
½ lb 00 Flour
1. Cook the spinach in boiling water until very tender, approximately 5 minutes. Cool in ice water.
2. Puree the cooked spinach in a food processor until very smooth.
3. Place the puree into cheesecloth, then place the cheesecloth in a strainer to drain for 30 minutes.
4. Wring out any excess liquid from the cloth. Remove the drained spinach from the cheesecloth and place into a large bowl.
5. Add the ricotta, egg yolk, parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Using hands, mix together well.
6. Using a pastry scraper, cut the 00 flour into the spinach mixture until the flour is fully incorporated.
7. Place the mixture into a pastry bag. Dust the preparation area with flour, and pipe out the spinach mixture in a single row. Cut into 1 inch logs.
8. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook gnocchi for 2-4 minutes, until they float to the top.
9. Gently toss with sauce, add additional parmesan as desired and serve.

To download a pdf of Saranello’s Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi recipe, click here.

Want to take your pasta making to the next level? Check out all of Mychael Bonner’s tips for making pasta yourself.