Pasta alla Puttanesca comes to us from around Naples, famous for its “Gabinetto Segreto” inside the archaeological museum which puts the Roman penchant for enjoying erotic art on display for giggling tourists. Thus, you might be lead think it is the best place for a pasta with origins in the cooking pots of the prostitutes.
There are a variety of ideas of where this recipe originated, but it is thought to date to the mid-twentieth century. Some say a restaurant in Ischia created the first puttanesca, while the more romantic story is that ladies of the evening in Naples created it because they needed something cheap, quick, that used readily available ingredients. ~ Deborah Mele, Italian Food Forever: Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
It is a lively dish. Black olives, no garlic (who’d want that on a “romantic” night out?) capers, spicy peperoncini, and (sometimes) anchovies.
Try it in a little osteria. It’s basic. It’s got bite. It’s sexy.