Sugo Al Pomodoro is the quintessential Italian tomato sauce. With a list of only 3 ingredients, its flavor is largely dependent on their quality. Fortunately, it has become easier and easier to find good quality ingredients in American super markets! Obviously, tomatoes are the focal ingredient, so the most care should be made in selecting them. Sometimes supermarkets will stock different brands of tomatoes in their ethnic foods aisle. Often, the better tasting tomatoes are cheaper than the core American brands!

Sugo al Pomodoro

This will make enough sauce for 1 pound of (dry) pasta. The sauce is best used for dry pasta, such as Barilla or De Cecco, versus fresh egg pasta.


  • 1/4 c (approx) extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the back of a knife
  • 1 28 oz (800 gr, or 1 lb 12 oz) can of whole, peeled Roma tomatoes, preferably San Marzano tomatoes.

1 lb of your favorite dry pasta– penne work well.
(For the finished pasta– freshly grated parmigiano cheese, to taste)


In a wide, deep-bottomed sauce pan, heat up most of the olive oil. Add the garlic and gently heat for 3-4 minutes until slightly golden, being very careful not to brown. Add the canned tomatoes and bring, stirring gently, to a gentle boil. After 5-8 minutes, break up the whole tomatoes into small chunks with a spoon or stiff spatula.  Salt to taste.

If the sauce is too acidic you can correct by carefully adding [i]small[/i] quantities of sugar which will mask the acid,  or baking soda to neutralize it.  Continue to cook at a low simmer until the oil separates from the tomato sauce, about 30 additional minutes.

Spoon the entire quantity over al dente pasta that was cooked in a generous amount of generously salted water.  Lots of water helps keep the pasta from sticking, and the salt gives the pasta itself flavor.  The rule of thumb is that the water should be “almost as salty as the sea”.

Optional: Add 1/4-1/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano cheese. Serve hot and enjoy!

This sauce can be made ahead of time, or made in double quantities and frozen.

If possible, you want to find San Marzano tomatoes. San Marzanos are a low-acid variety of Roma tomatoes. You also want to find a brand that has as few extra ingredients as possible. The ingredients list should ideally list just tomatoes and water. Citric acid is occasionally added as a color fixative, but anything more than that and you’re working with an inferior product that someone is trying to doctor for you! Since the ingredient list is short and cheap, try different brands until you find the one that you like the best.

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