Frankies Spuntino’s Cavatelli with Brown Butter, Sage, and Faicco’s Hot Sausage


Frank Bruni outed our favorite restaurant last week in the New York Times. It was hard enough to get into Frankies Spuntino on Clinton Street before the article. Now, good luck!

Still, I urge you to get there soon. Walk over and put your name in (they won’t take reservations, and won’t take your name over the phone—they have to “see the whites of your eyes,” they once told us), grab a drink at the cheap bar down the block, and bide your time until you can taste this pasta. Go ahead and order the antipasto plate with its delicately sliced prosciutto, nutty cheeses, and vegetables roasted caramel-black, but don’t skip this cavatelli. It’s hot and spicy and rich, perfectly al dente and wrapped in a blanket of rich brown butter. We devoured it (for the umpteenth time) the night we got engaged, late after calling our families to spread the news and tipsy with champagne and the sparkle of Matt’s great-grandmother’s ring.

Today, walking around in the cold winter sun after a stop at the Strand, I steered myself westward. Faicco’s Pork Store, the source of Frankies’ sausage, is a worthy destination, even in 28-degree weather. Not only do they make terrific sausage, but they sell a variety of fresh and cured meats as well as imported canned goods and pasta. I picked up a braciole (pre-rolled!) for Sunday Ragu along with the cravable spicy sausage. I harvested the last of our balcony sage for the sauce.


The elements of the recipe are simple: stubby cavatelli (ideally fresh, though I substituted another short dried pasta), browned butter, sage, and sausage, with a little garlic and some red pepper flakes if your sausage isn’t truly hot. I’ll continue to tweak when I try this again, but here’s the gist:

Cavatelli with Brown Butter, Sage, and Hot Sausage
Inspired by Frankies Spuntino (if only they would give me their recipe!)
Serves Two

1/2 pound cavatelli or short pasta
3 links hot sausage (I heartily recommend Faicco’s if you’re in New York.)
3-4 T butter
1 cup sage leaves. Don’t be stingy.
3 cloves garlic, chopped
pinch red pepper flakes, optional
parmesan, salt, pepper for serving

Bring water to a boil. Brown whole sausage in a dutch oven, until mostly cooked. Remove the sausage from pan and slice into coins. Cook pasta according to package directions—be sure not to overcook it; the pasta should be quite al dente. Meanwhile, add butter to the dutch oven and cook over moderate heat about 5 minutes until beginning to color and separate. It should get quite nutty, but don’t let it burn! Add sage leaves and garlic to the butter and cook for a minute to infuse flavors. Return sausage to pan, toss until warm and add red pepper flakes if desired. When pasta is cooked, drain and add (along with a few tablespoons of pasta water), stir over low heat for one minute. Add salt and pepper to taste, serve with parmesan and red wine.

In New York Times, budget, meat, pasta

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