La Vera Cucina

Pasta Puttanesca

At his Greenport, NY, trattoria, Emilio’s, Emilio Trotta keeps regulars coming back with flavorful specialties, including traditional house made pastries still warm from the oven! But even at 58 years old, it is the aroma of freshly made pasta puttanesca which takes Emilio back to childhood memories of learning to cook from his grandfather!

Here, Emilio shares his grandfather’s recipe for pasta puttanesca. His grandfather’s secret to making it especially flavorful is to not toss in the capers, artichoke, olives, and cheese until just before serving. This keeps each of their sharply distinct flavors from comingling with the sauce and each other so that each bite can surprise your taste buds with a vivid new flavor combination.



  • 8 ounces of spaghetti, freshly cooked al dente
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fresh Greek oregano, finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon coarsely cracked
  • black pepper 1 cup of canned plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 6 flat filet anchovies, chopped
  • 1 ½teaspoon capers
  • ½ cup sliced black olives
  • ¼ cup quartered artichoke hearts, cut into small bite sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon of shaved Parmigiano Reggiano


Heat olive oil in a skillet over low medium flame; add garlic, fresh oregano, and pepper. Sauté until garlic begins turning golden. Stir in tomatoes and anchovies; simmer over low flame for seven minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Add cooked pasta to sauce in skillet and toss briefly until pasta is coated. Evenly scatter capers, olives, and artichoke hearts throughout pasta. Plate gently, using tongs. Sprinkle shaved Parmigiano Reggiano evenly over the top. Garnish with a sprig of fresh oregano and serve!

About Capperi (cah-Perry)

Preserved in salt or vinegar, capperi (capers) are unopened flower buds of a wild shrub which clings to stone walls throughout Italy. Featured in many of the same rustic sauces as olives, capers can add a piquant “bite” to the sauce. In some areas of Italy, wild capers are encouraged by placing their seeds into ripe figs (moisture source) which are then planted between stones in retaining walls!