Rita Sodi’s Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

One secret ingredient makes all the difference in this classic Neapolitan pasta with garlic and olive oil.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    20 minutes


By Rita Sodi

Updated on October 17, 2023

Rita Sodi, a native Florentine, is the chef-owner of the beloved New York City restaurants Via Carota and I Sodi, where she cooks rustic Italian food including heaping bowls of pasta. Her rendition of the beloved spaghetti aglio e olio is surprisingly full-flavored, thanks to the unorthodox but welcome addition of salty Pecorino Romano cheese.


  • Kosher salt
  • 14 oz. spaghetti
  • ¼ cup plus 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped (¼ cup)
  • 1 Tbsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • 1½ cups (5 oz.) coarsely grated Pecorino Romano, plus more


Step 1

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil, then add the spaghetti and cook, stirring frequently, until al dente, 8–10 minutes. 

Step 2

Meanwhile, to a large skillet over medium heat, add ¼ cup of the oil, the garlic, and chile flakes. Cook, stirring continuously, until the garlic is softened but not yet browned, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Step 3

Using tongs, transfer the spaghetti to the skillet and turn the heat to low. Add ¼ cup of the pasta water and cook, tossing frequently, until the spaghetti is coated in a thin pan sauce, about 1 minute (add a few more tablespoons of pasta water if the spaghetti seems dry). Add half of the pecorino and the remaining oil, tossing well.

Step 4

Transfer the spaghetti to a large platter, or divide among wide pasta bowls, and top with the remaining pecorino. Serve immediately, with additional pecorino on the side if desired. 

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