The Simple Italian Pasta Dish That Stanley Tucci Swears By

Stanley Tucci is known for his roles in movies such as "The Devil Wears Prada," "Spotlight," and the 1996 foodie classic "Big Night," per Vulture, but it's the actor's CNN travel series, "Searching for Italy," that's garnered attention over the past couple of years — especially from food lovers. The first season of the show aired last year and featured Tucci sampling some of the country's most storied dishes, from pasta pizzoccheri in Milan to rigatoni all'amatriciana in Rome. Season 2 premiered in early May 2022, and according to the show's official website featured a search for white truffles in the northwestern region of Piedmont; the history of Venice and the difficulties faced by the "Floating City;" hunting for wild boar in the rural region of Umbria; and exploring the Italian food scene in London, where Tucci lives (per GQ).

If you've been with Tucci since the very beginning of his Italian adventures for CNN, then you might remember the show's debut episode, which partially takes place on Italy's Amalfi Coast. In that episode, the star visits Lo Scoglio, an iconic hotel and restaurant built in the seaside village of Nerano in 1958 (via its official website). There, Tucci tucks into a simple-looking spaghetti dish which he admits he had first tried when visiting the town years ago — and had been trying to recreate at home for years (via The New Yorker). So what is spaghetti alla Nerano, anyway, and why has it beguiled Stanley Tucci?

Each ingredient in spaghetti alla Nerano must be prepared perfectly

According to La Cucina Italiana, spaghetti alla Nerano was created at the Mariagrazia restaurant in Nerano, Italy in 1952. Still in operation, the restaurant claims ownership of the four-ingredient dish, which features just spaghetti, zucchini (fried in oil), butter, and Parmesan cheese, according to The New Yorker. The recipe, which has been adapted throughout the town, calls for deep-fried rounds of zucchini that are then placed on paper towels for several hours (or overnight) to absorb the excess oil. Then, they're reheated, tossed with al dente spaghetti, pasta cooking water, a generous pat of butter, and plenty of grated Parmesan.

If you want to make the dish at home, there's really nothing to it. But don't make the same mistake that Tucci did: The New Yorker relates that on the Amalfi Coast episode of "Searching for Italy," the actor tells Lo Scoglio chef Tommaso De Simone that after falling in love with the pasta in Nerano, he could never evoke the dish's deliciousness when trying to recreate it at home. As revealed in the episode, that's because Tucci had been pan-frying the zucchini and, as it turns out, the summertime vegetable, which can be bland, really needs to be deep-fried to bring out its nuttiness. So if you want to evoke seaside Italy — and Stanley Tucci — make sure your oil supply is flowing before making this tasty pasta.