Sunday, April 5, 2009

Quattro Formaggi Pasta

For years now, my favourite restaurant dish has been Quattro Formaggi Rigatoni at Spago in Windsor, Ontario. It's rigatoni, cooked al dente, covered in the richest sauce you've ever tasted. When I'm visiting my hometown, every few months I make sure to stop in at Spago. While I'd like to try something else on the menu, this dish is so packed with flavour that I just can't.

The first bite of this pasta always tastes so good that I can practically feel the endorphins being released in my brain. It's one of those dishes that is so delicious that you have an involuntary verbal reaction. Does that ever happen to you? Where something tastes so amazing that you can't help but moan, "Mmmm, this is so good!"

So my mission lately has been to find a recipe that would compare to Spago's quattro formaggi pasta. I found a recipe that seemed to have the right foundation, and then adapted it to make its flavour match as closely as possible to the original inspiration. I was so thrilled with the results that I actually ate it for dinner twice last week, much to the chagrin of my waistline, I'm sure. This recipe is definitely not for dieters, but the best food often isn't.

The four cheeses in question, in the original, were fontina, gorgonzola, Parmiggiano Reggiano, and Pecorino Romano. In place of the fontina, I used a half-and-half mixture of asiago and mozzarella - technically bringing this recipe's total to five cheeses, but the flavour is that of the quintessential four cheese pasta, so the title stays. The cheese is melted into a bit of heavy cream and, within minutes, you have a cheesy, velvety-smooth sauce.

Quattro Formaggi Pasta
Serves 2 people - multiply accordingly
1/2 a 454 gram (1 pound) box of rigatoni
1 ounce asiago cheese, shredded
1 ounce mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (if you're using regular blue cheese, use less - about 1 oz.)
2/3 ounce Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
2/3 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
1/3 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Milk (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta to boiling water. Cook according to package directions.

About halfway through pasta's cook time, pour heavy cream into a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cheeses and simmer until they are melted. Add milk to thin if necessary. Set aside.

Drain pasta. Immediately add hot pasta to skillet and mix well.

Transfer to a serving platter or bowl. Add black pepper to taste and serve.


Steph April 9, 2009 at 8:37:00 AM EDT  

Yum! I've never had homemade cheese sauce before.

Donna April 10, 2009 at 11:48:00 PM EDT  

This looks delicious!!

MaryBeth April 12, 2009 at 6:45:00 PM EDT  

Your pasta looks simply perfect!

Mindy Walz April 21, 2009 at 5:04:00 AM EDT  

Nice article! I think so many people could use to read this. You should look at posting it on They have really good searching capabilities and you can link your page to their website. It's really easy to find similar articles and they have graphs so you can track how many people are reading and using your info.

Abbey Adams January 14, 2010 at 5:01:00 PM EST  

hello! i stumbled upon your site after googling "quattro formaggi" for the exact reason you made this post. spago's in windsor's pasta dish of the same name. it's my favorite pasta of all time. i am from detroit so it used to be easier to go have it but now am in rhode island and crave it all the time. thank you for the recipe, i'm going to make it tonight :)

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