Food Hack: Cibo’s Penne al Telefono

Words: Rich Tuason/Photography: Mylene Chung/Styling and Recipe Development: Katherine Jao/July 4, 2012


The Italian language has this thing with making whatever words they put together sound like food. For example: Scarpe in pelle. Give yourself a few seconds to mentally salivate over the fresh produce and premium meat included in this genius home-grown recipe whisked up to satisfy your famiglia. Done? Great. Unfortunately, it means “leather shoes.” Luckily, we’re not going to trick you in today’s recipe. It is edible, but we will admit that the origin of the name can be… humorous. You see, any dish carrying ‘al telefono’ in its name contains mozzarella in reference to how the melted cheese strings out and curls, just like a telephone cord. Yes, ‘telefono’ = telephone.

So yes, this dish contains mozzarella and may actually be familiar because of Cibo. If you guessed that we’ve brought you their beloved Penne al Telefono, you guessed right! (But this isn’t a contest post, so the most we can give out are virtual hugs.) We at have managed to replicate the beloved dish’s deliciously warm and delectably cheesy, slightly spicy, tangy tomato-y, creamy-ness sent from ancient Roman deities themselves. Though the recipe says it serves up to 4, you could always be a complete hedonist and spend an entire afternoon alone in a one-man pasta party while having a marathon of Rome…or anything Italian-related, like The Godfather trilogy. (Just not Growing Up Gotti, for pity’s sake.) On the other hand, if you don’t want to feel comfortably alone, then you can always have this with your family. Of course, keep in mind that nobody’s gonna judge you if you do choose the selfish path to self-fulfilled happiness. We all deserve to be dirty, glutinous pigs once in a while.

Cibo’s Penne Al Telefono

Yield: 4 servings


  • 2 tbsp chopped onion
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 regular can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 pc chicken boullion cube
  • 1 cup all purpose cream
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 200 grams uncooked penne pasta
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


  1. Cook penne pasta aldente or as directed in package.
  2. Drain and toss with 1 tsp olive oil so it will not stick together. Set aside.
  3. Heat pan and sauté onion and garlic until soft.
  4. Add in crushed tomatoes and water.
  5. Season with sugar, salt, pepper and chicken cube.
  6. Add water and simmer for 20 minutes or until thick.
  7. Add in cream and simmer for another minute.
  8. Put pasta in the pan, mix and add in cheese.
  9. Mix for another 1-2 minutes and turn off fire.
  10. By this time the mozzarella cheese should be melted and stringy when pulled.
  11. Serve and enjoy!

1. Convert this recipe into Cibo’s Rigatoni Valentino by adding sautéed crabmeat and substituting penne with rigatoni pasta.


Rich Tuason

Rich Tuason is mainly a graphic designer and photographer who believes in magical creatures and the intangible. She probably is acataleptic (in reference to acatalepsy), but would prefer not to be labeled because she can be a hipster like that. She likes to write silly stories, which may or may not be real--depending on your perception. See More.

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  • This is amazing! I’m going to try this! Please try Cibo’s Rigatoni Alfonso! It’s the besstttt! :3

    • Let us know once you try it! 🙂 for the alfonso, just add sauteed crabmeat and substitute penne with rigatoni pasta. 🙂 good luck!

  • fooditive

    Nice! like your Food Hack series

    • Awww. Thanks for the love. :3 Stay tuned for more recipes!!!

  • Blas168

    Great! Love ur site. By any chance food hack can copy Cibo’s Artichoke Dip n Pumpkin Soup. 🙂

    • Interesting! We’ll look into it. 🙂

  • Such high hackurracy percentage is a sign that you guys will do Kitchen’s Under the Sun justice.  My kitchen’s  ready when you are!

    • Yum! That IS a great suggestion! Will take note of that, Tina. Thank you! 😉 

      • @7a4d7e0c88439d4e59361e14713f5046:disqus any update on this hack yet??? I haven’t forgotten, so looking forward to it! It’s been 2 years since I had it last and I’m sooooo craving for it… Make me do anything you like after this hack, I’ll serve you well 🙂

  • nix

     Made this yesterday… I added salmon though just so it has some kind of meat! 🙂 Yum!

    • Glad you liked it!:D Adding salmon sounds delicious!:D

  • sam

    Love this! I added bacon and different kinds of cheese and it worked as well. Thanks for posting! 🙂

    • Great!! Glad you liked it! Try some of our other recipes next time!:D

  • Will try this out. Thanks 😀 !
    Any chance of having a Rigatoni di Bruto hack 😀 ?

  • Thanks for sharing this!  Cibo’s version is the hubby’s fave, he’ll love it more so when it is this easy to do at home.

  • Jessica

    Going to try this out tomorrow! Just a question, how many grams os a regular can of tomatoes?

  • Not a big fan of the smell while cooking it but it tastes really, really good!

  • your website is a goldmine! Keep it up!

  • lara

    hi been willing to try this out. any suggestions for chicken boullion cube alternative? i’m not really a fan of broth cubes.

  • Erika

    Hello. What size can of crushed tomatoes (in ounces)? Do you drain juices or include as well? Do you simmer covered or uncovered? Thanks!

  • mrsblocko

    I made this and wrote a bout it here. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. It was amazing!

  • It tastes just like it… Ahhh, that was a good-one! ♡♡♡

  • Adlyn

    OMG! Thank you for the recipe! This was my absolute favorite dish in Cibo.

  • Jen

    This is just awesome. Hubby and I have been looking for this recipe for a very long time! By any chance, do you think you can try copying their Linguine Di Valentino as well?

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  • Mads

    I tried this last night. My boyfriend loved it. Thanks for sharing this easy to follow recipe. 🙂

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  • henrik

    Can you food hack Penne il Selvaggio… I tried and came close.. but not quite. (the measurements probably)

  • carbaddict

    I usually love Cibo but we had lunch there last Mother’s Day (at the Promenade branch) and the food was terribly disappointing. I had an olive oil based pasta and it was so dry, I had to have it re-tossed. Maybe I can try this recipe out. Thanks!

  • Carol

    Are you sure the sauce from this recipe is just for 200g of uncooked pasta?Is’t it too much?My pasta was practically floating in the sauce but it was wickedly good, I’m not complaining =)

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  • flyingwifey

    I always order this whenever i have the chance to go back philippines. I usually list food i miss days before my flight. They never fail to disappoint me.

  • Dang Hingco-Ong

    Super love Cibo since college. How about food hack of Sbarro’s baked zitti and meat lasagna 🙂 Thanks!

  • Tina A

    Used to love telefono until I tried ubriacco… very similar but it’s better *___*

  • ilovecibo

    In step 4, do you mean to include the all water in the can? Then the 1/2 cup water in step 6?

    Thank you!

  • Farryl Fuentes-Ecle

    Very good food hack! Cooked it today. Was not able to find crushed tomato so i just diced 6 tomatoes put some dried bas and water. Really taste like Cibo’s. Note that u really have to step 6. 🙂

  • sohm

    This one is so easy to try and also tastes really good. I added a can of sliced chicken breast instead of the stock and tried another cheese. It was really amazing tho. Thanks :^)

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  • AJ

    how many grams is a regular can of crushed tomatoes? I really want to try this for my family 🙂 thanks

  • cape

    No basil leaves? That is key ingredient in Cibo’s Telefono…

    • Beeea

      That’s what I was thinking too!!!

  • Catherine Tupas-Sison Redondo

    This was super easy to make! I have not tried Cibo’s version but this was delicious. My Italian-American brother in law swore it was very good 🙂

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