The Best Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce Ever!

The Best Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce Ever! (La Devozione by Peppe Guida)

On a recent visit to Gragnano and Naples, I was very fortunate to have this best spaghetti with tomato sauce ever made for me twice! When I returned home, I just had to make it for myself! I now know I will never make this dish any other way!

best spaghetti with tomato sauce ever (La Devozione)

Spaghettini al pomodoro di Peppe Guida.

I first tried this fabulous spaghetti with tomato sauce during an unforgettable pasta dinner event at Pastificio dei Campi, pasta makers in Gragnano. The chef was Peppe Guida, the creator of this divine and now famous version of a Neapolitan classic.

The second time, it was a dish we ate at the Di Martino seafront pasta bar in Naples. There, La Devozione, as it is called, is a signature dish that can even be bought as a take away!

best spaghetti with tomato sauce ever (La Devozione)

A little tomato history.

Spaghetti with tomato sauce is an iconic Neapolitan recipe that dates back to the early 1800s and has been a symbol of Italian cuisine ever since!  According to food historians, the first tomatoes in Europe were transported here by the Spanish Conquistadors from South America in the 16th century. They called them ‘tomatl’ (actually an Aztec word).

At first, Italians thought tomatoes were poisonous

Unlike the Spanish, Italians didn’t take to tomatoes quickly. In fact, most people thought they were poisonous. Subsequently, tomatoes were only used as ornamental plants. It actually took about 200 more years for tomato sauce as we know it to become a popular ingredient in the Italian kitchen!

ingredients for best spaghetti with tomato sauce ever (La Devozione)

The first tomato sauce!

The first written reference to a tomato sauce dates back to 1692. However, this was a sauce made with ember roasted tomatoes chopped with onions, chili and thyme and eaten with meat! It was called ‘salsa di Pomadoro, alla Spagnuola’. (Spanish style tomato sauce). The Spanish were really the first Europeans to integrate tomatoes into their diet!

Fresh date tomatoes passed through a sieve

The Spanish ruled Naples and Sicily during the 16th and 17th century. So, it’s not surprising that the use of tomatoes in Italian cooking started there. But, it wasn’t until the 19th century that tomato sauce began to be eaten on pizza and with pasta! Pizza Margherita, named after Queen Margherita of Savoy, was invented in Naples in 1889 and the first written recipe for spaghetti with tomato sauce was published in 1837.

garlic cloves cooking in olive oil

The first written recipe for spaghetti with tomato sauce was published in 1837.

Just as these dishes were becoming popular in Naples and Southern Italy, the country began its unification. This helped to spread these tomato based recipes throughout the peninsula. And the rest as they say, is history! Or rather food history!

fresh tomato sauce with garlic in deep frying pan

Peppe Guida.

Peppe Guida is one of Italy’s celebrity chefs. He, his recipes and his restaurant have attracted a lot of media attention in recent years. Called the pasta whisperer by some, Peppe is famous for his dried pasta recipes, particularly this spaghetti with tomato sauce. Chef Guida has a talent for turning simple traditional recipes using local seasonal ingredients into gourmet dishes that would not be out of place in a Michelin star restaurant. In fact, his restaurant , Antica Osteria Nonna Rosa, has a Michelin star!

uncooked spaghetti in tomato sauce

La Devozione. (The devotion)

The old traditional Neapolitan tomato sauce is made with just 3 ingredients; tomatoes, of course, lard (nowadays olive oil) and garlic. Peppe Guida’s spaghetti with tomato sauce recipe (la devozione) uses the same ingredients. So what is the difference?  In short, the quality of the ingredients plus, the way the sauce is made and the pasta cooked!

Spaghetti and tomato sauce cook together in the same pan

The pasta.

When it comes to recipes with only a few ingredients, it makes sense that the food you use is the highest quality The pasta, the olive oil and the tomatoes all need to be the best you can find for the tastiest result.  I used spaghettini from Pastificio dei Campi, the company I was invited to dinner at. You can read more about this prestigious pasta maker and where their pasta is available on my post about my visit.

Whichever pasta you use I would strongly suggest a bronze extruded pasta, meaning the pasta dough has been passed through bronze dies (molds) to make the shape. This type of pasta has a rougher surface and absorbs sauce better. Most artisan pastas and Pasta di Gragnano is made this way.

Peppe Guida cooking his La Devozione best spaghetti with tomato sauce ever
Peppe Guida cooking his La Devozione at Pastificio dei Campi.

The tomatoes.

Peppe Guida’s recipe calls for organic date tomatoes called lampadina from tomato growers PomoDama. These are also the tomatoes they use to make this dish at the Di Martino seafront pasta bar in Naples and at the Pastificio dei Campi dinner. Sadly I didn’t think to bring some of those tomatoes home with me. Instead, I used another type of date tomato from Sicily, as I really wanted to use fresh tomatoes for my best spaghetti with tomato sauce ever!

best spaghetti with tomato sauce ever (La Devozione)

The important thing is that the tomatoes are ripe, have a deep red colour and are very flavourful. This sauce is made using pureed fresh tomatoes and it isn’t cooked for very long before adding the pasta. Plus, apart from a bit of garlic and salt, there isn’t any other seasoning. So, the quality of the tomatoes is essential! You could also use San Marzano.

Making this best spaghetti with tomato sauce ever.

There are actually 2 ways to make this recipe. One is to cook the spaghetti entirely in the sauce. The other is to half cook it in boiling water and half in the sauce. I did it the first way. However, at Pastificio dei Campi and The Di Martino seafront pasta bar they use the half and half method.

best spaghetti with tomato sauce ever (La Devozione)

Whichever way you decide to make this recipe, I’m sure you’ll agree with me it’s the best spaghetti with tomato sauce ever!! They call it ‘La Devozione’ and it’s not difficult to understand how a simple plate of pasta can inspire so much passion! 

If you make this pasta recipe, I’d love to hear how it turns out and if you liked it. Please leave a comment here on the blog or on The Pasta Project Facebook page.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Buon appetito!  

Disclaimer: Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions expressed are my own.

Other recipes by Peppe Guida on The Pasta Project

Lemon water spaghetti.

Read about my visit to Gragnano and Naples

The best pasta ever; Pastificio dei Campi.

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If you want to save this recipe for later, you can print it, bookmark this page or save it to Pinterest.

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best spaghetti with tomato sauce

5 from 29 votes
best spaghetti with tomato sauce ever (La Devozione)
Best Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce Ever
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
20 mins

Once you try this recipe for spaghetti with tomato sauce by Michelin star Neapolitan chef Peppe Guida, you will never want to make this classic Italian pasta dish any other way!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Campania, Italian, Southern Italian
Keyword: Italian food, Italian recipe, Neapolitan recipe, spaghetti, tomato sauce
Servings: 4
Author: Peppe Guida
  • 360 g spaghetti (12-13 oz) I used spaghettini from Pastificio dei Campi
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled
  • 600-700 g ripe date tomatoes (21-24 oz) You can also use canned whole date tomatoes or San Marzano tomatoes
  • salt to taste
  • fresh basil as required
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Parmigiano grated (as required)
  1. Blend half of the whole tomatoes and pass through a sieve to remove the skin and seeds. Then crush the other half using a fork and pass through the sieve as well. You will obtain a fairly watery tomato sauce but it will thicken while cooking.

  2. Peel the garlic and cook in the olive oil until it starts to soften. Add the tomato sauce and cook for about 5-10 minutes over a medium heat.

  3. Add the uncooked spaghetti to the sauce. Be careful not to try to stir too roughly as the spaghetti may break. Once it softens you can then cook like risotto stirring frequently.

  4. The starch from the pasta will thicken the sauce. If it gets too dry add a little water. Cook until the spaghetti is al dente. Add salt to taste and serve immediately with some fresh basil leaves and grated cheese if required.

Parboiling the spaghetti first
  1. You can cook the spaghetti for 4-5 minutes in a pot of boiling salted water and then drain and add it too the tomato sauce. Finish cooking the pasta in the sauce. Keep a bit of the pasta cooking water to use if you need more liquid.

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best spaghetti with tomato sauce ever!

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  • Avatar
    January 13, 2020 8:52 am

    Thank you for this beatiful recipe! I just want to add a bit of info for your little tomato history. Tomatoes are actually from México, they origin is Mesoamerica, a region in the south of Northamerica (I know it sounds confusing, sorry!). Thats why, as you mentioned, they name is an aztec (nahua) word: “tomatl”.

  • Avatar
    July 1, 2019 6:40 am

    The simplest recipes always make the best go-tos, and this amazing sauce is no exception! Such a great one to keep on hand for busy nights!

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    Analida Braeger
    July 1, 2019 5:18 am

    I have never seen this method used before to make pasta ! This was a very interesting recipe article too . thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Avatar
    July 1, 2019 3:30 am

    The spaghetti sauce in Naples is simply the best! I went there a few years ago and I haven’t been able to find a recipe… until now! I am going to make this week.

  • Avatar
    June 30, 2019 7:34 pm

    I was totally in mood for making spaghetti for dinner tonight and this recipe looks awesome. Thanks for posting it in the right time! 😉

  • Avatar
    Veronika’s Kitchen
    June 30, 2019 7:08 pm

    I am the biggest pasta fan and love good tomato sauce! I also love that you are making it from scratch, yet the recipe looks really simple to make! Definitely saving it for later!

  • Avatar
    June 30, 2019 3:33 pm

    I love how simple this recipe is. You can’t go wrong when you add the pasta to the sauce!!

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    Marisa F. Stewart
    June 30, 2019 1:52 pm

    Yes, we Italians can be a bit stubborn about trying new things. I know my papà had to be convinced several times, by me, to try something new. Loved your history and your method of cooking the sauce was my mamma’s way. I like the idea of putting the spaghetti in the sauce and letting it cook. I’ve done that with shorter pasta with great success. I’ll have to give the spaghetti a try.

  • Avatar
    June 29, 2019 6:09 pm

    Now making the best tomato sauce at home is so easy with the recipe. Great when I’m looking for some classic comfort food right at home.

  • Avatar
    June 28, 2019 8:44 pm

    I love it that you’ve kept this recipe simple with minimal ingredients.. It’s simply the classic version

  • Avatar
    June 28, 2019 3:45 pm

    Such a great idea to cook the pasta in the sauce! It’s so great for absorbing all these delicious flavors and ingredients! Can’t go wrong with such timeless classic!

  • Avatar
    Kari Heron
    June 28, 2019 1:09 am

    This is my son’s favourite classic pasta sauce. He always gets it at one of the hotels my husband works at as an Executive Chef, this summer, I may just use your recipe and create it at home!

  • Avatar
    June 27, 2019 5:32 am

    This is absolute perfection! One of my all time favorite ways to have pasta. So, simple yet so delicious. Using fresh tomatoes gives it so much amazing flavor.

    • Jacqui
      June 27, 2019 8:53 am

      Thank you Michelle! Yes fresh ripe tomatoes make so much difference! But so too does the quality of the pasta!

  • Avatar
    June 26, 2019 10:29 pm

    Simplicity does indeed go a long way. You don’t need more than 4 ingredeints to make an unforgettable meal. I think I wouldn’t dare to cook raw spaghetti in the sauce and I’d prefer to also “scottarli” in salted water first 😉

    • Jacqui
      June 27, 2019 9:00 am

      Thanks for your comment Eva! I have cooked spaghetti a couple of times in the sauce and I loved it, but this recipe is just as good with the pasta cooked half in water and half in the sauce! I hope you’ll try it!

  • Avatar
    June 26, 2019 4:25 pm

    This sauce looks gorgeous and I love the idea of cooking the pasta this way too!

    • Jacqui
      June 27, 2019 9:04 am

      Thanks Amanda! This pasta dish is incredibly good. I hope you’ll give it a try!

  • Avatar
    June 24, 2019 8:47 pm

    What a tasty homemade tomato sauce. I love how much flavor is in this one. Can’t wait to try.

    • Jacqui
      June 27, 2019 9:08 am

      I am sure you’ll love this way of making spaghetti with tomato sauce Julie! So simple and yet so full of flavour!

  • Avatar
    June 24, 2019 6:19 pm

    I have never seen the pasta cooked in the sauce before! It is such a great idea, when you think about it! It has to flavor the pasta brilliantly! Can’t wait to try that!!

    • Jacqui
      June 27, 2019 9:10 am

      You are so right Beth! Cooking the pasta in the sauce makes such a difference to the flavour! The important thing is that the pasta is a good quality artisan pasta, like the one I used. This type absorbs the sauce better!

  • Avatar
    Cheese Curd In Paradise
    June 22, 2019 11:16 pm

    Oh that beautiful sauce! I can’t wait to make this when the tomatoes are ripe. I love that the pasta is cooked in the sauce and everything is so simple and fresh!

    • Jacqui
      June 23, 2019 10:01 am

      Thanks so much for your comment! Yes this is a beautiful tomato sauce. I’m sure you’ll love it!

  • Avatar
    June 22, 2019 3:28 pm

    Every time I visit your website, I feel I am in a little Italy. Your pasta recipes reminds me of Giadia’s shows who always makes some rustic pastas from some part of Italy. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Jacqui
      June 23, 2019 11:40 am

      Thank you Sophie! I’m happy you like my blog and recipes! I’m sure you’ll love this version of spaghetti with tomato sauce if you try it!

  • Avatar
    June 22, 2019 2:51 pm

    I’ve never cooked pasta directly in the sauce. Definitely a time saver. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jacqui
      June 23, 2019 12:46 pm

      Pasta cooked in sauce can be so much more flavourful than cooking it in water Tynia. However, it’s best to use a bronze extruded artisan pasta like Pastifio dei Campi or other pasta di Gragnano. The rough surface of this pasta ensures it absorbs the sauce better!

  • Avatar
    June 22, 2019 2:16 pm

    Wow loved learned the history of this dish. It looks amazing!

    • Jacqui
      June 23, 2019 12:48 pm

      Thanks so much Demeter! I love food history! Yes, this is an amazing dish. Very simple to make too!

  • Avatar
    June 22, 2019 2:02 pm

    This really does sound like the BEST!

    • Jacqui
      June 23, 2019 12:49 pm

      Thank you Jordan! This really is the best spaghetti with tomato sauce I have ever tasted!

  • Avatar
    June 22, 2019 1:46 pm

    I love tomato sauce pasta! Looks so delicious and comforting!

    • Jacqui
      June 23, 2019 12:49 pm

      Thanks so much Natalie! This is a very delicious way to cook a classic comfort food!

  • Avatar
    June 22, 2019 1:45 pm

    delicious! I love making pasta and various sauces, so the tips and background on tomatoes in Italian cooking are very interesting.

    • Jacqui
      June 23, 2019 1:03 pm

      Grazie David! I’m happy you liked the background info. I love food with history! I’m sure you’ll love this way of making spaghetti with tomato sauce if you try it!

  • Avatar
    Katie Crenshaw | A Fork’s Tale
    June 22, 2019 12:53 pm

    This looks delicious. It is perfect for our summer tomatoes. I will be making this for dinner soon! YUM!

    • Jacqui
      June 23, 2019 1:04 pm

      Making this with your own tomatoes is sure to be super tasty! Do let me know how it turns out Katie!

  • Avatar
    Stine Mari
    June 22, 2019 12:02 pm

    I would never have thought of adding uncooked spaghetti to the sauce, but that it such a clever way of thickening it up. And fun to read about the history of tomatoes and tomato sauce in Europe!

    • Jacqui
      June 27, 2019 9:39 am

      You are so right Stine, cooking the pasta in the sauce really thickens it because the pasta releases starch into the sauce. It’s amazing! Glad you like the history! I’m a big fan of food history! So interesting!

  • Avatar
    June 22, 2019 12:11 am

    I so love, love love the simplicity of this recipe- oh , all the flavours from these tomatoes!! I cannot wait to make this recipe with my own grown toamtoes this summer – yummm, delicuiousness!

    • Jacqui
      June 27, 2019 9:41 am

      Thank you dear Ramona! You’ll love this dish made with your own tomatoes! Nothing beats homegrown produce! Just make sure you use a good quality artisan pasta which will absorb the sauce better!

  • Avatar
    Kelly Anthony
    June 21, 2019 10:34 pm

    I love simple yet full of flavor pasta recipes like this one. I crave fresh tomato dishes all summer long so this is a perfect one to try.

    • Jacqui
      June 27, 2019 9:42 am

      Fresh tomato recipes really are the best Kelly! And a homemade tomato sauce is so so good! I’m sure you’ll love this dish!

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