I went to college in New York in the 90’s. I worked in TriBeCa, lived in the Lower East Side, and went to school in Westchester County. it made for a lot of skipped meals, a few late night bodega buffets, and more than my share of Sbarros in Grand Central.
I always loved Sbarros pizza… floppy, hot, cheesy, gigantic. But what I loved even more was their baked ziti! I’d get a box of it to eat on the train or subway. I’d roll into Grand Central exhausted and starving then it would hit me. The smell was just intoxicating. Such a simple preparation – just noodles, marinara, garlic salt, pecorino/Asiago cheese, but truly comfort food at its very finest.
This isn’t exactly like theirs – I like more cheese so I added some ricotta! You can dial it back if you want the OG 😉 This is a large recipe, great for large last minute meals, but cut it in half if you are only feeding a few.
- 2 pounds ziti pasta, uncooked
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 3 ounces Romano (or Asiago) cheese, grated
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper, ground
- 3 cups tomato sauce, divided
- 1 1/2 pounds Mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Garlic salt, for sprinkling
- Flat leaf parsley, chopped (dried is fine too)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook Ziti according to package directions but use the “al dente” time if provided. I actually cook mine for 2 minutes LESS than what the box recommends for al dente – it will cook more in the oven and can get very soft in there. Before you drain the noodles, set aside 1/4 of the pasta water.
While the pasta is boiling, combine ricotta, Romano, 2 3/4 cups tomato sauce and pepper in large mixing bowl. Gently combine cooked ziti with cheese/sauce mixture.
In a 13x9x2 inch pan, spread the ¼ cup reserved sauce. Add the ziti. Top with mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with garlic salt.
Bake until mozzarella is thoroughly melted, about 12-15 minutes. Top with some chopped parsley and serve warm…
I serve with green beans and garlic bread usually. The more Romano or Asiago cheese you use the better on this one. Mozzarella is good, but it doesn’t have the same nutty flavor!