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Knickerbocker Hotel Spaghetti Alla Caruso

By on Tuesday, August 16th, 2022 at 9:06 am | 972 views

This spaghetti and red sauce is not spaghetti -- but rather its bucatini -- and its not Caruso sauce -- because who wants to eat sauce with liver in it

Italian opera singer Enrico Caruso helped make Italian food mainstream, so perhaps it is unsurprising a spaghetti dish was named in his honor. However, not everyone agrees what that dish should be.

Caruso loved chicken liver, and he believed it was essential to help him sing opera. Most spaghetti alla caruso recipes are similar to this one from 1939. In her cookbook, Where To Dine in Thirty-Nine, Diane Ahsley included a recipe from the Caruso chain of restaurants. That sauce contains= two essential ingredients: liver and mushrooms.

However, Knickerbocker Hotel chef Louis DeGouy claims the real spaghetti alla Caruso doesn’t have chicken livers.

Caruso literally lived at the Knickerbocker Hotel in Manhattan for many years while he was in residence at the Metropolitan Opera House. He premiered there back in 1903.

Hotels in that era usually provided meals to their guests, and Caruso was no exception. He livered there after all, in an apartment without a kitchen. However, he also ate at restaurants in the neighborhood. Those restaurants included spaghetti with livers, and for most of the 20th century Spaghetti Caruso meant just that.

Louis DeGouy published his famous hotel recipes in The Gold Cookbook in 1947, including a Spaghetti Caruso. DeGouy’s version skips the liver but does include mushrooms.

This recipe is adapted from Gold Cook Book by chef Louis DeGouy.

This recipe is for 2 pounds of spaghetti, which seems like a lot but Enrico Caruso loved food quite a bit.


1 cup tomato paste
½ cup Marsala wine
3 lbs lean beef
Veal knuckle
¼ lb ham
4 slices bacon
Bacon fat
1 leek
3 Celery stalks
2 Carrots
1 tablespoon Parsley
1 tablespoon Chervil
2 garlic cloves Garlic
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
Powdered sugar
½ lb fresh mushrooms


Fry bacon and ham.
Dredge beef in sugar.
Fry beef in bacon fat.
When it forms a crust, combine with bacon and ham in stew pot.
Add veal knuckle, leeks, celery, carrot, herbs, salt and pepper.
Cover with boiling water.
Simmer 3 to 4 hours.
Add tomato paste and wine.
Bring to boil.
Simmer and add sliced mushrooms.
Cook spaghetti.
Combine spaghetti and sauce.
Top with Parmesan cheese.