Penne alla Vodka is one of my Aunt Toni's favorite pastas so I though that I would honor her with this recipe and a bit of history that I learned about this popular pasta dish!
According to Pasquale Bruno, Jr., From Chicago, author of "The Ultimate Pasta Cookbook," Penne alla Vodka was invented at Dante, a restaurant in Bologna, Italy.
Others credit James Doty, a graduate of Columbia University, as the inventor of Penne a la Vodka.
Paula Franzese, a law professor, claims that her father Luigi Franzese, born in Naples, Italy in 1931, devised the first incarnation of Penne alla Vodka, which he called Penne alla Russia because of the addition of the vodka to his tomato and cream sauce.
He first prepared the dish table side for patrons at New York City's Orsini's restaurant in the early 1970s.
Orsini's, owned by Armando and Elio Orsini, was one of the most acclaimed restaurants of its time, hosting regulars that included Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Sammy Davis, Jr, Mick Jagger and scores of literary, entertainment and business icons.
Word of Penne alla Russia quickly spread, and soon it began appearing on other menus throughout the New York region.
The Williams Sonoma Essentials of Italian cookbook says that it was invented in the 1980s by a Roman chef for a vodka company that wanted to popularize its product in Italy. So the debate is on on who created it!
I looked at the recipe and it is basically a rosa sauce with vodka. Here is my version.