Bigoli in salsa

‘Messer Abbondanza’, as Bartolomio Veronese was called, was a pasta producer from Padua and he is famous for having invented, in the first years of the 17th century, a special machine, called ‘bigolaro’, able to easily produce different varieties of long pasta. Among them, there were some rough big spaghetti, which immediately became very popular. These ‘bigoli’ look like thick spaghetti and they are an egg pasta, which still today is produced with a press. Besides soft wheat flour, they can be made with wholemeal flour, with or without eggs.

Bigoli have always been a part of the Venetian tradition, to the extent that ‘andare a bigoli’ (literally. ‘To go to have bigoli’) means ‘it’s time to have lunch’.

However, some people say that the word ‘bigolo’ derives from the typical curved stick that was used in the past to carry water or flour, and therefore was very common among those who helped the pasta artisans.

According to the tradition, the ‘bigoli in salsa’ were eaten as a light meal the day before a major celebration, for example on Christmas Eve, Good Friday or Ash Wednesday. They are delicious when served hot, but also eaten after a few hours at room temperature.  They are a traditional meal also for the Redentore celebration in Venice, when the tradition is to have dinner on a boat.

As often happens with traditional regional dishes, the recipe’s strength and taste depend on the quality of the simple ingredients, which in this case are the Chioggia white onions and the sardines.


  • Put a little oil in a pan and stir-fry one minced onion, adding a little water in order to prevent the onion from becoming dark.
  • Clean the sardines and cut them into pieces, adding them to the cooked onions.
  • Continue cooking the sardines stirring them with a wooden spoon until they melt into a cream with the onions.
  • Cook the bigoli until ‘al dente’ and drain them.
  • Add the sauce and some freshly grinded black pepper.

INGREDIENTS for four people

  • Bigoli (400 grams)
  • 6 salted sardines
  • 1 white onion
  • salt
  • pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil

Reserve a table