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Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Diavolo Sauce

Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Diavola Sauce
Evan Sung
Cook Time:
40 mins
Prep Time:
20 mins

Chef notes

Diavolo sauce is the first thing I put on the menu at Lilia, so, to me, it will always be special. I love that chitarra pasta is a super old method made by hand with traditional tools and has its roots in the Abruzzo region.

Technique tip: Make sure you take the time to marry your sauce and pasta. The pasta comes out of the water a bit before it is done, and the remaining cook time will happen in the sauce. The sauce and the pasta join forces as one! Also, salt your water heavily!

Swap option: If you don't like it spicy, you can leave out the chilies and have a simpler sauce.


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 11 cloves garlic, 8 left whole and 3 thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 (32-ounce) cans San Marzano tomatoes, drained and hand crushed, juice reserved
  • 1 tablespoon chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons crushed Calabrian chili
  • 1 tablespoon Calabrian chili oil
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed
  • 5 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 1 pound spaghetti alla chitarra



Heat a large bottomed pan to low heat. Add olive oil and whole garlic cloves and cook slowly on medium-low heat until soft and slightly caramelized to golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.


Add the sliced garlic and sweat lightly, just until aromatic, no color. Add the tomato paste and cook until a deep rich color and until some of the oil has absorbed into it, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and 1/2 the reserved juice. Add the chilies, wet and dry, and the fennel seed. Cook for 45 to 60 minutes on a slow simmer while occasionally stirring.


Add the oregano in the last 5 minutes of cooking and remove when sauce is done. Add cooked spaghetti (fresh spaghetti cooks 1 to 2 minutes) and marry in the sauce.