Spaghetti con Aglio Olio e Alici

My friend Tommy Abatemarco reminded me of this dish the other day. I have not had this in a long time, spaghetti with garlic and oil and anchovies with toasted breadcrumbs. Man! This takes me back to Christmas Eve in Brooklyn. This is also the kind of dish you make at midnight when you’re hanging out with your friends and need something to eat. It’s always ready, available and quick. And it’s delicious!

A while back while visiting in Calabria, we were all up late drinking wine and talking and just enjoying the company of friends and family. And then I heard someone shout, “Pasta Aglio Olio e Alici”! And in no time the lady of the house was boiling the water for the spaghetti and preparing a simple but delicious dish. It’s something you can make at a moments notice, and usually do.

Every Italian pantry should have spaghetti, olive oil, garlic, anchovies and breadcrumbs. These are the ingredients that make up one of the most satisfying, most tasty macaroni dishes you can eat.

Spaghetti con Aglio Olio e Alici

Serves 4

  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus 3 tablespoons
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 anchovies fillets
  • 1 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Fill a large 6 quart pot with water and bring to a boil. Generously salt the water with a tablespoon of salt. Add the spaghetti.

While the spaghetti is cooking, in a medium frying pan heat over medium flame the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add two of the anchovy fillets and cook till the anchovies melt into the oil, breaking apart with your spoon. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes just until the garlic starts to brown. Add  2 cups of the salted pasta water to the garlic and oil and reduce the flame to low and simmer.

In a small frying pan over medium heat add the three tablespoons of olive oil. Add the other two anchovy fillets to the pan and cook till the anchovies melt into the oil, breaking them up with your spoon.  Add the cup of Italian flavored bread crumbs and mix well so you absorb all the anchovy flavored oil and toast lightly. Be careful not to burn the bread crumbs, but lightly toast them. Remove from the heat.

Once the pasta is cooked reserve another cup of pasta water and drain the pasta well. Place the pasta back in the large pot and add the garlic and oil mixture over the pasta and mix well. If the pasta is too dry add more of the pasta water.

Plate the pasta into individual bowls, one pound pasta should serve 4 people,  and sprinkle about a quarter cup of the bread crumb mixture over the spaghetti. Serve immediately with plenty of grated cheese.


About Peter Bocchieri

Peter was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and is a second generation Italian-American. He has a degree in Journalism from Long Island University and is an avid photographer, gardener and pet owner. Now that Peter is retired, he is relaxing at his home in North East Pennsylvania and cooking for his sons, Michael and Joseph, family and friends. Peter's passion for food was inspired by his Mother's and Grandmother's cooking, but at the age of 10 Peter felt he could do it better himself, so he did.
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11 Responses to Spaghetti con Aglio Olio e Alici

  1. lOUISE says:

    MOMMA MIA………………….. FOR SURE, THIS IS THE MOUTH WATERING RECIPE OF MY FAMILY TOO. For those of us that did not like the fish, they got to have it without the fish… just garlic and oil… and grated cheese. Eventually guess what? Everyone of us was eating it. YES, it’s a memory that is so special from our family gatherings for Christmas Eve dinners. THANKS for reminding everyone…. it’s a dish for anytime, espically when you want something fast. My mother-in-law used to add chopped walnuts to the dish too. Bless the cooks! Thanks again Peter ! p.s. I finally got to make Aunt Mary’s Butter Cake !!!!! what a hit it is. Great cold too. Another winner. Even put some whipped cream and chocolate shaving on each serving 🙂
    Another THANK YOU PETER !!!!!
    P.S.S. How is your mother ????

    • Louise, I’m glad you relate to this posting. Also glad you liked Aunt Mary’s Butter Cake. The whipped cream and chocolate shaving sounds like a wonderful addition! Mom is doing fine. Thanks for asking!

  2. Peter, This is one of my favorite dishes. I love anchovies. This dish is a basic dish that everyone can enjoy, with or without the achovies.. In fact, I am going to have this dish tomorrow night because you reminded me of how great this is.

  3. diana collins says:

    Nice recipe. I didn’t learn to make it with breadcrumbs, but with parsley and other herbs. I don’t water down my oil/anchovy mix; I put the oil straight on the pasta. Even so, it’s a wonderful light dish anytime of year. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Marty says:

    My dad, Vito Joseph, second generation Italian born and raised in Brooklyn, was the cook in our
    family, although he did teach my mom and us kids how to make many of these wonderful comfort foods that you’ve resurrected for us. Before Pappa Joe passed away on his 97th birthday two years ago, I would spend my visits with him cooking a lot of my favorites, like Cici di pasta, pasta Piselli, eggplant parmigiano, pasta aglio olio with anchovies, spaghetti and meatballs, lentil soup…Yum!….I’ve been making many of these dishes lately for my husband, kids and extended family, but your recipients have really helped fill in the gaps in my memory, and just made my cooking better overall. Thank you for your wonderful website, and thanks for the memories. Marty.

    • Marty, I’m so glad you find my web site useful. The one legacy we do have is to pass this good cooking along to our friends and family. I’m happy to share it with you.

  5. Marty says:

    PS: not one of us has become overweight eating these dishes….in moderation, of course!

  6. Sal says:

    I just came across this blog…raised in East NY…(Brooklyn) across the street from a major Bocce yard… PASTA AGLIO OLIO E ALICE was one of many arguments of whose village made the most authentic dish. Now you would think as simple as this recipe is there was not much room for argument…”impossiiiibiile” …with Sicilians, Calabrians ,Sardinians, Neapolitans, Puglia, and Abruzzi, immigrants …not to mention the Italian American in-put…the subtleties the fresh (Alice) as opposed acciughe!!.. salted in the olive oil…or God forbid…. water….Linguine VS Spaghetti VS…Bucatini…bread crumbs sautéed in olio and red pepper flakes…no bread crumbs…never brown the garlic…light garlic almost transparent… forget the different cheeses… time eat it… late night after 10 Pm (my family) only on Friday…never on Sunday…on and on…yes great memories…!!!…thank You
    Salvatore D’abiero

    • Louise Calabrese says:

      Oh how you just made made my heart sing……….. my face light up…. and allowed me to have all those wonderful moments of my life come alive. The family … all sitting around the dinning room table………..for hours as one dish after another…. one weekend after another of all the family get-to-gethers. All of that is gone…. I’m the old one…. and our family doesn’t live near each other like in the old days. I try to keep the traditional recipes …. just like all you post for us Peter….and all those that leave comments… and share their moments. This blog of yours is what helps to keep alive the Italian family memories… we all have… and allows them to breath fresh air. The eggplant.. leaving on the skin…. oh how tasty it is that way…my favorite, the way I grew up. On and On… the chicken…… vinegar….. endless list …. and how can I ever thank you. Please keep sending us what only you can share… to open those doors of family love.
      Ciao…… Louise

      • Louise, we lived in a special time. A time when family lived withing blocks of each other. Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, all within a short walk or drive to your house. Sunday’s were a special time. People would visit, bring cookies, stay for dinner. My grandmother always put out another plate, or two or three. No one worked on Sundays, it was a family time. We lost that and I’m not sure if we will ever get that back. But it’s nice to remember.

      • Louise Calabrese says:

        Always looking for your emails…………. your recipes are a dairy of family love. Your description was such a hug in the heart. THANKS FOR ALL YOUR SHARING. Always enjoy seeing everything you share with us. Louise

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