Seriously Delicious Spaghetti Inspired by Delfina San Francisco

You know a meal is really good when you want to recreate it right after eating it.

painted ladies

Work took me to San Francisco last week, and I’m so glad because it led me to one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had in a long time (along with the opportunity to sip some of Northern California’s best wine, of course.)

I’ve been waiting for another Italian meal to sweep me off my feet since I was in NYC last year. There is truly nothing better than good Italian food. Delfina in San Francisco did not disappoint.

  • Venue: Delfina
  • Location: 3621 18th St., San Francisco, CA 94110
  • Dish: Spaghetti (simple and delicious!)

When ordering pasta, spaghetti typically isn’t my first choice. However, this is not your average spaghetti. Serious care is put into creating this dish. It was brilliantly simple and unforgettable. So of course, I immediately turned to Google on the way back to the hotel to find out if the recipe was available online. When I found it on Tastebook (source listed as Madre) I decided to recreate it and share with you all. PLUS the last recipe I posted involved a healthy zucchini “pasta” so I thought I’d treat you to the real thing.

Delfina spaghetti

Bon Appetit!

Bonus: this dish does not require many ingredients! Just try to use quality tomatoes. It makes a big difference!

You’ll Need:

  • Two cloves garlic
  • Two 28 oz. cans peeled whole plum tomatoes (check the can, from Italy = goal!)
  • Three cups water
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Chili flakes, to taste
  • Fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • One pound spaghetti
  • Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese


home spaghetti

The at-home version!


This recipe is a little more involved than what I typically attempt, but definitely worth trying. I adjusted the recipe to suit my preferences and kitchen equipment (I do not own a food mill, so I used a food processor. Guess I will need to add that one to the wedding registry!)

  1. Open the cans of tomatoes, and break each one open, pulling out the seeds. Work over the can, allowing juice and seeds to fall back in and dropping the tomatoes into separate bowl. This is an interesting process, so just figure out what works for you. I got squirted with tomato juice within a minute or so – handle with care!
  2. Squeeze the tomatoes to break them up and strain the remaining juice over them, discarding seeds.
  3. Smash the garlic and smear it with salt.
  4. Heat oil, add garlic and stew slowly until soft and cooked (not browned!)
  5. Add the tomatoes, their juice and the water.
  6. Season with salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste.
  7. Bring the sauce to a boil and skim the foam, but not the oil. Lower to quick simmer and cook uncovered until the oil has emulsified with rest of sauce and has reduced by 2/3.
  8. Remove the sauce from heat and pass 2/3 through a food mill (or food processor – it worked pretty well for me!)
  9. Combine with reserved sauce and stir in basil leaves.
  10. Cook spaghetti in lightly salted boiling water for six minutes.
  11. Add cooked spaghetti to the sauce along with a few tablespoons of cooking water and bring to boil.
  12. Continue to cook rapidly for five more minutes.
  13. Add additional salt, pepper and chili flakes if desired.
  14. Top with freshly grated cheese.

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!


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