Mamma Agata’s tomato sauce recipe is our go-to pasta sauce, and the base for many of our easy weeknight dinners. This famous Italian grandmother taught us how to make her authentic Italian recipe on our first trip to Ravello, high in the mountains of the Amalfi Coast. It was a dream to cook in an Italian grandmother’s kitchen (read more our visit to her kitchen here), learning her “secret sauce recipe” that she would make glamorous 1960s figures including Humphrey Bogart, Elizabeth Taylor, and even Jackie Kennedy, who would holiday in Ravello. We can just imagine them sipping martinis or Aperol Spritzes on the sun-drenched terrace overlooking the Mediterranean, while Mamma was cooking up a storm in the kitchen.
Like most authentic Italian recipes, Mamma Agata’s tomato sauce is simple, and you only need 4-5 ingredients. It’s so easy, that we even made it for our small dinner party on first night in Sicily (read more about it here) after three planes and 24 hours of traveling from San Francisco.
It is very important to use good jarred tomatoes. We conducted our own blind taste test to find the best tomatoes available (see the results here).
Did you know that it’s important to match your pasta shape with the appropriate sauce? For this sauce, we typically use spaghetti, bucatini, or penne. You can learn more about pairing sauces with this guide — it’s a staple in our kitchen and we strongly suggest buying a copy if you have an interest in Italian food.
Mamma Agata also has her own cookbook filled with family recipes, including lemon chicken and lemon cake. If you live in the Amalfi Coast, of course you need lots of ways to use their famous lemons. You can visit Mamma Agata’s cooking school in Ravello or order her cookbook straight from Italy.
- Get Mamma’s complete famous sauce recipe, plus our most popular Italian summer recipes, by signing up for The Taste SF email list below.
As soon as you add the Roma tomato puree to the pan, add the 10 vine-ripened cherry tomatoes to the pan as well to further enhance the flavor of your sauce. This is an important step and you will be amazed how wonderful the sauce tastes in the end!
We salt to taste.