How to Make Spaghetti Pomodoro (the Pasta from ‘The Bear’)

Updated: Jan. 04, 2024

Learn how to make classic spaghetti pomodoro as seen on Hulu's 'The Bear' with just a few simple ingredients.

If you’ve ever worked in the restaurant industry, you may be familiar with what’s known as the family meal (and you might know these chef secrets, too). This long-standing tradition is a free staff meal shared by the kitchen and waitstaff ahead of a busy shift.

More common in fine dining establishments, it’s also seen on Hulu’s hit TV show, The Bear, where Chef Carmen ‘Carmy’ prepares his take on his late brother’s spaghetti pomodoro recipe (aka a list of three ingredients written on an index card) for the team at The Original Beef of Chicagoland.

While most of the cooking action happens off-camera, the end result looks so heavenly we couldn’t resist creating our own version (like we did for Remy’s ratatouille). Keep reading for this simple, family-friendly pasta recipe.

What Is Spaghetti Pomodoro?

Spaghetti pomodoro is a classic Italian recipe comprised of pasta tossed in a light yet flavorful tomato sauce. Pomodoro, which literally translates to tomato in Italian, typically contains little more than fresh tomatoes, olive oil, fresh herbs and garlic. It is also often referred to as spaghetti alla Napoletana or pasta al pomodoro.

Unlike other popular tomato-based pasta sauces that are richly flavored and loaded with slowly cooked sausage or meatballs (e.g., classic Sunday gravy), pomodoro sauce typically contains no meat and truly lets the flavor of the tomatoes shine, similar to marinara sauce.

Also, know what to add to spaghetti sauce make it taste homemade.

Spaghetti Pomodoro Recipe from ‘The Bear’

This recipe yields four servings.


  • 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped (about 4-1/2 cups)
  • 15 fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated


Step 1: Cook the pasta

Bring a large pot of water to boil over medium-high heat. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. When al dente, drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Set the cooked spaghetti aside and keep warm.

Editor’s Tip: Don’t skip the pasta water. This starchy water is pure gold when making pomodoro and countless other pasta sauces. The starch in the water not only thickens the sauce slightly but helps the sauce cling to the cooked pasta once tossed together.

Step 2: Saute the onions

While the pasta cooks, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until tender, about four or five minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for one additional minute until fragrant.

Step 3: Simmer

To the skillet, add the chopped tomatoes and the reserved pasta water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Continue to cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the sauce begins to thicken, about six to eight minutes.

Step 4: Combine spaghetti and sauce

When the sauce reaches the desired consistency, add the cooked spaghetti and toss to coat. Remove the dressed pasta from the heat and stir in the basil, salt and pepper.

Editor’s Tip: Basil is a delicate herb whose flavor can be easily diminished if cooked for too long or exposed to extreme heat. For best results, we recommend adding the basil just before serving after you’ve removed the pasta from the stovetop.

Step 5: Serve

To serve, top with Parmesan cheese (or Parmigiano Reggiano) and additional fresh basil. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes, if desired.

Look no further than this TikTok spaghetti when you need a quick and easy dinner.

Tips for Making Spaghetti Pomodoro

How To Make Spaghetti PomodoroTMB Studio

Can I use canned tomatoes for spaghetti pomodoro?

Sure! While fresh tomatoes are commonly used to make classic pomodoro, an equal amount of canned tomatoes may also be used. If using canned tomatoes, splurging on a few cans of San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy will yield the best spaghetti pomodoro sauce.

Can I freeze homemade spaghetti pomodoro?

If you intend to have leftovers, we suggest freezing only the sauce (but you could also freeze cooked spaghetti noodles separately). While some pasta dishes can be frozen, the simple ingredients of pomodoro sauce taste best when tossed with freshly cooked pasta. To freeze the sauce, store it in an airtight container for up to three months. Defrost in the fridge overnight before reheating.

How do you reheat spaghetti pomodoro?

Store the cooked pasta separately from the sauce. To reheat, combine the pasta and sauce in a skillet over medium heat and warm until heated through. You may also microwave the leftover pasta until steaming in a covered container. For more tips, check out how to reheat pasta, so it’s as good as day one.