Restaurant-level bucatini, at home! A spicy, briney, smokey red sauce clinging to delicious chewy bucatini noodles.
Lush, spicy red sauce speckled with crispy little pancetta bits, savory Italian sausage, and slivers of briney, bitey pepperoncini, absolutely soaking some perfectly chewy bucatini pasta.
This pasta is inspired by an absolute favorite menu item at local Italian superstar, Mucci’s. Their take on arrabbiata sauce with fresh bucatini is truly swoon-worthy. “Arrabbiata,” meaning “angry” in Italian, is a spicy red sauce that gets its heat from simmering with red pepper flakes. Mucci’s does kind of an arrabiata+, by tossing in pepperoncini for a heat boost, as well as some Italian sausage and pancetta for a smoky savory swirl throughout.
And the results? Well, A++++++.
In This Post: Everything You Need For This Bucatini
- The Restaurant That Inspired It All
- What’s In the Sauce
- What is Bucatini?
- How to Make This Bucatini
- FAQs About This Recipe
The Restaurant That Inspired It All
Mucci’s Italian in St. Paul is a cozy unassuming little place with a short menu full of fresh housemade pastas, amazing pizzas (hello quick-fried dough), and other delicious bits and bobs. Sometimes there’s the occasional doughnut-meets-biscuit, “doughscuits” available only on weekend mornings until they sell out (which happens quickly). There’s a cute new patio now and when we’re not ordering this house bucatini, we’re devouring the hangover kale or the cacio e pepe, or the Camilla pizza (with FRIED CHICKEN, y’all!).
It’s a truly beloved local spot with utterly craveable Italian fare that will stay in your hearts and you’ll just kind of be walking around wanting it always? So much so that a few of their pizzas are now sold in some local grocery stores here in the metro because apparently enough people were like “MUCCI’S ALL THE TIME NOW FOREVER PLZ.” Also us. So, here we are.
Bringing a little Mucci’s love letter to you.
What’s In The Not-So-Secret Sauce
A red sauce needs patience and love, most importantly. But listen, pancetta for smokiness and pepperoncini for a briney kick CERTAINLY ISN’T GOING TO HURT. Those are just two of our fave parts about this special sauce.
Ingredients are important because the flavors have time to really concentrate. We’re using San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand, because their natural sweetness makes this sauce sing. Make sure the red pepper flakes are fresh so the heat is really there. It is a take on arrabbiata, after all. Choose an Italian sausage you love because there’s nothing to distract from it.
The pancetta base is killer and it’s important that you get those little bits extra crispy at the start. Not only to render maximum flavor but also so when you add them back into the sauce later, they turn into delicious little salty chewy bursts in the sauce and not devastatingly unappealing little globby bits.
This recipe uses a mild Italian sausage but you could certainly use hot if you really want to get this spice party turned up. Otherwise, the red pepper flakes simmering around in there are going to give you a beautifully warm kick.
A surprise stunner is the sliced pepperoncini that get just folded into the sauce at the end. The little pop of brine and heat cutting throughout all that luscious, smoky, deeply savory sauce…welp, floated away on a cloud even thinking about it.
What Is Bucatini?
Bucatini is sort of a macaroni meets spaghetti mashup situation. All the fun of a macaroni tube, but it’s long and twirl-able like spaghetti. It’s also got a little more heft so it can really hang onto your sauce, and whoo-boy, you’re going to want every drip of this sauce hung onto.
If you wanna be a boss like Mucci’s, and you’re a fancy pasta-making type person, wowowowow, you could certainly make your own. But if you are a little more like us and that is just not in the cards, you can often find some at the grocery store. And if that’s not a noodle on your store shelves, you can grab some here (affiliate link).
And listen, the sauce is really key here, so of course other pastas will work just great. If you want to use an egg noodle like a tagliatelle, that might be even closer to the original in terms of texture. But we definitely wanted to get into that twirly-twisty, chewy little noodle straw game with the bucatini.
How To Make This Seriously Delicious Pasta
Luckily the key ingredient here is patience, not difficulty. So it really comes together without too much prep.
- Pancetta and sausage. Cook the pancetta until well-done and crispy to really concentrate that flavor. Remove and drain. Add Italian sausage and brown until cooked through, remove but save a little oil in the pan.
- Onions and garlic. Sauté in the reserved oil until soft and fragrant, then in goes tomato paste and let that go a couple minutes more until dark and rust-colored.
- Tomatoes and spices. Add crushed San Marzanos (did you crush them by hand? we hope so!), along with salt, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Add sausage and pancetta back in to the pot.
- Simmer and pepperoncini. Cover and let it go for at least 30 minutes. Add any broth needed for desired consistency and then toss in the pepperoncini and simmer a few minutes more until they are soft.
Then start tossing this spicy sauce magic over piles on piles of chewy noodle twirls, shower it with grated pecorino for a creamy salty finish, and HELLO, it’s a little Mucci’s nod right in your own kitchen.
Depending on how many you’re cooking for, this batch makes enough to have a jar of sauce to tuck away for next time. And by “next time,” we mean probably immediately following dinner when everyone looks down at their empty plates wondering why this dream has to end? It doesn’t.
So if you can’t get to Mucci’s Italian (although we totally understand and support you booking your trip to MN right now), we hope this will bring a little bit of that joy to your table.
Bucatini: Frequently Asked Questions
It won’t be *quite* as good, but bacon would be a good substitute here for that delicious smokiness.
What really makes this recipe is the smokiness from the pancetta and sausage, so we’d probably opt for a different recipe. However, it’s possible that some smoked paprika would be a good stand-in. We haven’t tried, but would love to hear how it is if you give it a try!
It’s got a kick! But it’s easy to adjust – just omit the red pepper flakes (or reduce them). You could also reduce the pepperoncini, but the spicy really comes from the red pepper flakes.
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 4–8 (see notes) 1x
Restaurant-level bucatini, at home! A spicy, briney, smokey red sauce clinging to delicious chewy bucatini noodles. Inspired by Mucci’s Italian in St. Paul, MN.
Note: This makes 8 servings of sauce. See notes below recipe for more details.
- 4 ounces diced pancetta
- 1 lb. ground sausage
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- two 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes (I like San Marzano tomatoes), crushed by hand
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1–2 cups chicken broth or water to thin the sauce
- 2–4 tablespoons butter to tame the heat (if you want)
- 1 cup sliced pepperoncini (more to taste)
- 8 ounces bucatini pasta for serving
- 1/2 cup pecorino cheese for topping
- In a large heavy pot like a Dutch oven, cook the pancetta over medium high heat until very, very browned. You want them to be well-done; browned, almost crispy, and concentrated with flavor. Remove pancetta and set aside; drain oil out of the pan.
- In the same pot, brown the Italian sausage until cooked through and crumbled. Remove sausage and set aside, saving a little bit of the oil in the pan.
- In the same pot, add the onion and garlic. (Add a bit of olive oil if needed.) Sauté until soft and fragrant. Add tomato paste and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add crushed tomatoes, salt, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Add sausage and pancetta back in to the pot. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Add the broth until desired consistency is reached. Add butter if you want.
- Add pepperoncini. Simmer for 5 more minutes until the pepperoncini are very soft but not broken down.
- Cook bucatini according to package directions; drain and return to pot. Pour sauce over cooked bucatini and keep over heat for a few minutes to help the sauce and noodles come together.
- Top bucatini with pecorino cheese! MWAH. What a moment.
This amount of sauce is good for an entire package of bucatini (8 servings). However, I find that we rarely cook a full package of bucatini. I usually use about half of the sauce for half a package of bucatini (about 4 servings). The rest of the sauce will freeze well or keep in the fridge for several days.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: bucatini recipe, Mucci’s Italian, pasta recipe, spicy pasta recipe
This sounds so delicious. I’ve never added pepperoncini to sauce before. Do I add them whole or cut them up? I can’t wait to try this.
I’m curious about this, too. The only pepperoncini I can find at the store is jarred. Can I use that or does this recipe specifically need fresh pepperoncini?
Yes, we used sliced pepperoncinis from the jar in this recipe!
We used sliced pepperoncinis in this recipe!
cant wait to try this! it is very hard to find new pasta recipes that are not dairy based – so thank you!
Absolutely! Enjoy, Lisa!
Oh my goodness! Making this tonight!!! I love Muccis, and can’t wait to make it at home! Any suggestions for a hangover kale dupe?? Maybe a future featured recipe?? ☺️
Great suggestion, Anna!
Oh my gosh, this sounds amazing! We just left MSP after spending the last 5 days eating our body weight in pasta at Broder’s! I’ve never heard of Mucci’s but may have to check them out next time we’re down!!
Delicious! I used some home-grown peppers to supplement the pepperoncini, otherwise pretty close to the suggested recipe. Perfect!
So glad to hear it, Joe!
Can’t wait to try this! How do you buy pancetta? I’ve never purchased this. Thanks!
Hi Steph! I usually find it in the deli area. You can find it diced or in rounds which you’d dice up at home. I know Aldi carried diced pancetta!
Thanks! I found the pancetta but couldn’t find the pasta! Would spaghetti noodles work instead? Thank you!
This looks delicious! Just wondering if the pepperoncini is meant to be green or red. I have a jar of chopped red pepperoncini peppers that are very hot, and the other option is to get a jar of the green ones and chop them myself. I’m guessing the green ones are a little less spicy.
Yes, the green ones are less spicy and the type we used in this recipe!
We made this tonight and it was delicious! I will say adding the chicken broth at the end made it a little more liquidy than I would like, will probably skip that next time. But pepperoncini addition is absolutely delish!
Thanks for the feedback, Bailey! Glad you enjoyed the recipe!
So delicious! Will definitely make again.
Would breakfast sausage work ok for this? Or how can I turn my breakfast sausage into Italian sausage? Lol
Breakfast sausage should work! You could add in some Italian seasoning and fennel seeds to the raw ground meat to give it some Italian flair!
Absolutely delicious! 10/10
I just made the sauce this morning. I haven’t tried it, so this is less a review and more a comment. A couple of clarifications on the recipe would be helpful. 1. Could you please note that the pepperoncinis need to be sliced (so that people don’t add whole peppers). You mention sliced in the introduction, but not in the recipe itself. 2. Could you please clarify if the whole peeled tomatoes are supposed to be drained? It wasn’t clear. At first I just did the crushed tomatoes, but the sauce seemed dry, so I added the juice, but now I’m concerned it’s too liquidy. Thank you! I used to live close to Mucci’s and absolutely LOVED it.
We appreciate the feedback, Sandy! We will work to make things clearer!
This was so delicious! Didn’t need any of the extra broth and used banana peppers instead of pepperocinis and no red pepper flakes to make it more mild for my family. Me and my husband loved it and even one of my young kids loved it! Also love that it makes enough to freeze half for an easy dinner another time, and the bucatini pasta was such a fun find! It has a hole throughout it, and eats delicious.
Yummy! Banana peppers sound great here!
This was incredible! The whole family loved it. Now we need to make our way and try the original version next!
A good vegan substitute for smokiness is Bac’n Bits (find in almost all regular grocery stores), which are surprisingly plant-based. They have a strong smokiness that adapts well to deepen flavor in recipes like these, and a little goes a long way. Pecorino can be substituted for Follow Your Heart Parmesan and I would recommend Miyokos butter in lieu of dairy. Can’t wait to make this tonight!
10 out of 10!!! This was super easy and so delicious. It is the best sauce I have ever made. I used the liquid from the can of San Marzano tomatoes in place of chicken stock and went with a hot Italian sausage, perfect amount of heat for my liking. This one is a keeper- thank you!
Yum! We make this regularly! Excluded the chicken broth because we liked the thicker consistency.
WOW!!!! This is DELICIOUS! Made it for a date night with my hubby and…man does this recipe DELIVER! I love the briney flavor addition. Pecorino cheese is also an absolute must. I considered using spaghetti but SO glad I took the time to find bucatini. Could easily see this being at our favorite Italian restaurant in town. Thank you for sharing this recipe! We LOVE it!!!
It’s perfect, my family loves it.
Oh, love it!!