A Whole Wheat Pasta Recipe You’ll Love

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Onions & Anchovies
Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Onions & Anchovies

A northern Jersey friend enjoyed this yellow onion and anchovy whole wheat pasta dish several years ago at da Flora, one of my favorite North Beach restaurants. The food memory haunted her ever since.

She hasn’t been to San Francisco since that dinner at da Flora so I made my version of the dish when 10 of us gathered at the table back East last week.

Two of my Jersey friends picked 3 of us up in Manhattan and we headed to Arthur Avenue, NYC’s Little Italy in the Bronx to finalize our menu and buy what we needed for our 4-course meal from our favorite purveyors.

Then it was off to Clifton NJ for a day of cooking and eating together. 8 hours of conversation, laughter and fun fueled by fantastic food and wine.

The chance to be with family and friends around the table is what drives my cooking passion and warms my heart.

This is a simple recipe with few ingredients. Start making the sauce when you put on a large pot of salted water over high-heat to boil and the sauce will be done by the time the pasta is cooked.

The nutty toothsome whole wheat pasta is coated with the onion-anchovy sauce. The sweet onions play off the salty anchovies and the sweet acidic sherry vinegar adds a piquant finish to each bite. Savor a full-flavored pasta made from a few simple ingredients.

Flora is somewhat of a technophobe. I’m so happy that she finally decided to create a da Flora website. Take a look at this unique place. Meet the 3 remarkable women who prepare your meal with local seasonal ingredients, the best imported products and lots of love.

Book a table for your next dinner in North Beach. God bless Flora. She’ll only go so far on the web. You’ll have to call to make a reservation. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Buon appetito!

Whole Wheat Spaghetti in an Onion-Anchovy Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A quick zesty sauce that's ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta. Sweet onions play off the anchovy-garlic sauce and nutty whole wheat pasta for a full-flavored pasta dish perked up by a bit of sherry vinegar.
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 pound or 500 grams, imported Italian whole wheat spaghetti or other long pasta
  • 2 yellow onions, halved and then slivered
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  • 10 anchovy filets, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, slivered
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups pasta cooking water
  • 3 tablespoons chopped Italian flat parsley
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • drizzle of good finishing extra virgin olive oil
  1. Put on 4 quarts of water with 3 tablespoons of sea salt over high heat to boil.
  2. When the water is at a rapid boil add the pasta and stir so the spaghetti strands don't stick together. Cook until very al dente.
  3. In the meantime, place a sauté pan large enough to hold the cooked spaghetti over medium-high heat and add the extra virgin olive oil.
  4. When the oil ripples add the thinly sliced onions, sprinkle the onions with sea salt and cook until translucent and slightly browned.
  5. Add the sherry vinegar and cook until the sauce is slightly reduced.
  6. Remove the onions and sauce to a bowl and set aside.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium-low and melt the butter in the pan.
  8. Add the anchovies and thinly sliced garlic to the pan and cook until the anchovies dissolve and the thinly sliced garlic starts to give off its aroma, about a minute or 2.
  9. Return the carmelized onions and sauce to the pan.
  10. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the pasta water and rapidly simmer until the sauce reduces by about half.
  11. When the pasta is cooked to al dente, using tongs or a spider, add the pasta to the pan. (If you drain the pasta in a colander reserve a cup of the cooking water.)
  12. Add the chopped parsley, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  13. Toss the spaghetti in the sauce. The pasta will absorb some of the sauce as it finishes cooking. (If the spaghetti is too dry add a bit more pasta water and toss again.)
  14. Serve the pasta in warm bowls and lightly drizzle each bowl with a good finishing olive oil.





NYC’s Real Little Italy


Waiting in Line Just to Get In to Shop

I’m interested in the health of Italian-American communities across the country so I travelled from Manhattan to the outer borough of the Bronx to check out a neighborhood I’ve heard about for a long time but never visited.

Arthur Avenue is a vibrant Italian community in the Belmont section of the Bronx. While lower Manhattan’s Little Italy has shrunk to a 2 1/2 block stage-set, Arthur Avenue is booming and as true to its Italian immigrant roots as ever.

The Italian population has dwindled and Belmont is much more diverse, but the core around Arthur Avenue and 187th Street is vibrant with dozens of delis, butcher shops, cheese stores, pasta places and bakeries galore.

There are still some long-time residents and their kids living here. Those who have moved away to the suburbs come back to shop. I was amazed to see long lines outside of the markets and bakeries waiting to get in to do their shopping.

If you’re hungry before you shop you can choose one of old-fashioned restaurants like Dominick’s where you sit at communal tables or Umberto’s Clam Bar, a transplant from lower Manhattan’s Little Italy. Roberto’s is more upscale and modern and it’s offshoot Zero Otto Nove, a new pizzeria/trattoria has been getting rave reviews in the New York City press, no minor accomplishment.

Now that you belly is full, grab an espresso at the bustling Caffe De Lillo and hit the markets and bakeries so you make a great meal at home.

Strong traditions abound in Belmont. Ask 5 people where to get the best bread or Italian pastries and you’ll get 5 different answers. Every family has their favorite. Want fresh mozzarella or burrata? You must go to Casa di Mozzarella. Need fresh pasta?  Only Borgotti’s Ravioli and Egg Noodles will do. Don’t miss the indoor Retail Market, a bunch of different food stalls all under one roof that was spear-headed by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. We bought great salumi and cheeses at Mike’s Deli to take back to Manhattan for dinner.

These places wrap your purchases in paper and tie it up with string. They total your order with a pencil on a brown paper bag. The merchants have been doing it this way for a hundred years.

Thank God things change slowly on Arthur Avenue — truly The Real Little Italy in New York City. Be sure you visit when you’re in the Big Apple. You won’t be disappointed.