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The Martino Family’s Macaroni in Anchovy Sauce

Hailing from Youngstown, Ohio, Tom and Ryan Martino are Salt Life’s North Coast representatives. The Martinos are world champion drag racers and proudly pilot the Salt Life Top Dragster in the NHRA and PDRA Drag Racing Series.


We caught up with Tom and Ryan to hear about their family’s favorite holiday recipe, Macaroni in Anchovy Sauce. The recipe was brought over from Italy when their family emigrated from Italy’s Adriatic Coast to Youngstown, Ohio in the 1910s. Like so many Americans, the Martinos keep their heritage alive through food. 


This delicious pasta recipe is part of their family’s Feast of the Seven Fishes celebration on Christmas Eve, when they gather to celebrate their Catholic faith and share a grand meal of fish and other seafood. 


No matter where you’re from or what time of year it is, this simple pasta dish is sure to please. Brightened with zested lemon, the saltiness and umami of the anchovies really shine. Even if, like the Martinos, you’re not usually a fan of anchovies, this authentically Italian recipe is the perfect way to reintroduce your palate to these flavorful little fish. 

The Martinos’ Macaroni in Anchovy Sauce Recipe

This recipe is so authentic that, as Tom says, “there’s no official name. We came up with Macaroni Anchovy sauce as a family. Imagine all the Italian hand-waving and yelling trying to come up with the name!” He shares another important note: “Italians don’t really measure, they just go by a little bit of this, a dash of that, oh wait—it needs some of this!” 


Thankfully, the Martinos were kind enough to translate the recipe into measurable ingredients and easy-to-follow steps for the Salt Life family! So without further ado, here is the family’s famed Macaroni in Anchovy Sauce recipe.



Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 pound angel hair pasta
  • Salt
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon zest
  • 4 cans of anchovy filets in oil
  • 1 3.5 oz jar of capers, rinsed
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped



Cook the angel hair pasta according to package instructions. Angel hair cooks quickly, so be sure to keep an eye on it to ensure it’s al dente and not mushy. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce.


To make the sauce, cover the bottom of a large pot with extra virgin olive oil. Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir until it’s browned, being careful not to let it burn. Remove the garlic and dispose (or save in an airtight container for another dish).


Add the anchovy files into the garlic-infused oil, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. Cook the anchovy filets until they begin to break down.


Add two cups of water to the pot with the anchovy filets with the jar of capers and the lemon zest. Stir occasionally and let that mix come to a boil before bringing down to a simmer. Let the sauce reduce for a few minutes.


Drain the cooked pasta, reserving a half cup or so of the starchy pasta water. Add the pasta back to the pot.


Remove the anchovy sauce from the heat and pour it over the pasta, tossing to coat the noodles with the sauce. Add the reserved pasta water little-by-little to help thicken the sauce.


Pour the mixture into a large glass serving tray. Squeeze two lemon halves over top and garnish with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and parsley. Buon appetito!

Cooking with Salt Life

We’re thankful to the Martinos for sharing this special family recipe with us. For more recipes, check out the Daily Salt, where our team members share their favorite ways to prepare the catch of the day!