Carbone’s New Jarred Vodka Sauce Is Missing One Key Ingredient — Which Is How It Rivals the Stuff You’d Find in Italy

published Jul 5, 2023
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Rigatoni in spicy vodka carbone sauce in paper bowl with plastic fork
Credit: Mara Weinraub

When you hear (or see) the name Carbone, one of two things is probably true: You’re listening to the pop culture and celebrity gossip podcast, Deuxmoi, or googling how to make the restaurant’s famous recipe for Spicy Rigatoni Pasta. (You know the one supermodel Gigi Hadid posted an Instagram Story about in 2020, which quickly took the internet by storm.) 

After much anticipation, the celebrity hotspot founded by Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi, and Jeff Zalaznick (and powered by Major Food Group), finally launched its sought-after sauce in jarred form. I got a sneak taste at the Fancy Food Show held in New York earlier last week. Here’s everything you need to know and my honest review.

Credit: Mara Weinraub

What You Should Know About Carbone Spicy Vodka Sauce

Inspired by the tasty rigatoni pasta dish, which is believed to have both Italian and Italian-American roots, Carbone’s Spicy Vodka Sauce is made from handpicked Italian tomatoes “grown in volcanic ash” mixed with Calabrian chilis and onions, according to the brand. One thing I noticed about this jarred sauce is the absence of cream from the list of ingredients. Cream is an essential when making vodka sauce and something you’ll find in most jarred sauces on shelves today. Carbone’s jarred sauce leaves it out and, instead, instructs us to add cream (plus rigatoni and a couple tablespoons of butter) before heating and serving.

The Spicy Vodka Sauce will be available on July 11 (aka the start of Prime Day, which is actually two days). Starting at $9.99 for the 24-ounce jar, fans of the restaurant (and really really good sauce) can purchase jars at Amazon or directly from Carbone’s website, along with the restaurant’s other jarred sauces, including marinara, arrabiata, mushroom, roasted garlic, and tomato basil. 

My Honest Review of Carbone Spicy Vodka Sauce

I tried Carbone’s Spicy Vodka Sauce firsthand, mixed together with perfectly al dente rigatoni pasta. It had the bright tomato flavor you’d expect with a good vodka sauce and it wasn’t overpowered by any other ingredients. The texture was also incredibly smooth and creamy, thanks to the addition of the fresh cream. And it’s is largely why I believe that the sauce is so good: Most shelf-stable vodka sauces with cream are a bit mediocre, but adding fresh cream to the already-made sauce gives the dish something extra special. While it does require the purchase of an additional ingredient, I believe it is totally worth it (and still way cheaper than the $34 dish at the restaurant, not including plane ticket).

Credit: Carbone

Something else I noticed, which is likely a good thing, is that the pasta sauce really isn’t that spicy. That means you can amp up the heat, according to your preferences, by adding a pinch (or two!) of the usual red pepper flakes. Either way, it’s easy to prepare a homemade batch of Carbone’s Spicy Rigatoni Pasta that is both tasty and quick — without having to pack a bag or even put your shoes on.

Find it in stores: Carbone Spicy Vodka Sauce, starting at $9.99 for 24 ounces at Amazon (available on July 11)