How to Make Food out of a Telephone Reference: Cibo’s Penne al Telefono Food Hack

September 24, 2019

This food hack was originally posted on July 4, 2012, but was re-published with a video.

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.

Get me the telefono!

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.

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

Cibo Penne al Telefono

  • Serves: 4 people
  • Active time: 30 mins
  • Total time: 45 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy


  • 2 tbsp chopped onion
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 regular can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp fine salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ pc chicken boullion cube
  • 1 cup all purpose cream
  • ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 200 g 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!​
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