Top Secret Recipes | Romano's Macaroni Grill Penne Rustica Recipe

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Romano's Macaroni Grill Penne Rustica Recipe
Romano's Macaroni Grill Penne Rustica
By Todd Wilbur

Recipe Type: Entree
Calories: 792
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Recipe Rating: 5.0 (73 reviews)

Menu Description: "Shrimp, grilled chicken & smoked prosciutto and Parmesan baked in a creamy cheese sauce."

Romano's top-requested item is so popular they've even trademarked the name. Grilled chicken, shrimp, prosciutto, and penne pasta bathed in a creamy gratinata sauce is topped with cheese and paprika, and baked until the top is a crispy brown. there's a distinct smoky flavor that comes from the smoked prosciutto used by the chain, and you might have a hard time finding such a unique item at your deli. No big deal. Just use regular prosciutto, and have the deli cut it pretty thick - 1/8-inch will do. The dish will still work since you'll get smoky hints from the grilled chicken and shrimp. The chain serves up the entree in a wide, shallow baking dish that comes to you straight from the salamander overhead oven/broiler. If you don't have any baking dishes like that, try using 9-inch glass pie dishes. These make for a great presentation, especially when served hot right to the table, garnished with a sprig of rosemary and a few sliced pimentos on top. Be sure to get the sliced pimentos, not diced. You want long pieces just like those they use at the restaurant.

For a live demonstration of this classic clone recipe, check out this video.

Source: "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2" by Todd Wilbur.

Gratinata Sauce
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons marsala wine
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1 pound penne rigate pasta, cooked
12 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 skinless chicken breast fillets
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) thick-sliced smoked prosciutto, chopped
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
12 sliced pimentos
4 sprigs rosemary

1. Preheat barbecue grill to high.

2. Prepare gratinata sauce by melting 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium/low heat. Add garlic and sweat it for about 5 minutes. Be sure the garlic doesn't brown. Add the marsala wine and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients for the sauce and whisk well until smooth. Bring mixture to a simmer and keep it there for 10 minutes or until it's thick. Cover sauce and remove it from the heat.

3. Cook pasta following directions on the package (7 to 9 minutes in boiling water). You want the pasta tender, but not mushy (al dente). Strain pasta and set it aside when it's done.

4. Pound the thick end of your chicken breasts a bit with a kitchen mallet to make them a uniform thickness. Rub chicken with olive oil, then sprinkle on a bit of salt and pepper. Spear the shrimp on skewers (6 per skewer should work fine), then rub them with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  

5. Grill chicken for 5 to 6 minutes per side. Grill shrimp for 2 minutes per side. When chicken is done, slice each breast into strips.

6. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Build each dish in a large, shallow baking dish. Or you can use a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate. Load 3 cups of pasta into each baking dish. Add one-quarter of the chicken, 3 shrimp and 2 tablespoons of prosciutto onto each serving. Spoon 3/4 of a cup of gratinata sauce on each serving and toss to coat. Combine 3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese with 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, then sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of this mixture over the top of each serving. Bake the dishes for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tops begin to brown. Arrange three pimentos on the top of each serving, then jab a sprig of rosemary into the center and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Really good
Made PR  
Submitted on: 02/21/14
My favorite recipe ... Really good taste
Love! love, love!
Submitted on: 12/28/13
Love, love, love! Just wondering if you can make this the day before And heat before serving?
Thank you, thank you, thank you
Tara S.  
Submitted on: 12/08/13
The closest Macaroni Grill to me is literally an hour away. I missed this dish so much I went searching for a copycat recipe. This came out so good I, quite frankly, couldn't believe I made it! LOL.
House Favorite
Submitted on: 11/18/13
This is a family favorite, I recommend doubling the sauce though...
PA from PA  
Submitted on: 10/10/13
Made this as a surprise for my adult daughter, it's her favorite Macaroni Grill entree. Could only locate regular prosciutto and she could tell, will use smokey bacon next time. Great clone and not all that difficult!
Texas Hottie  
Submitted on: 08/16/13
A-Mazing! For ease, I used John Soules Chicken Fajita breast strips, frozen cooked shrimp and regular prosciutto (couldn't find smoked) and it was delicious!
Iowa girl  
Submitted on: 06/11/13
Let me start off with saying I have never had the original. But I'm tired of making the same old thing and when i saw this recipe I just loved it! It's one I will make again and again. And very easy. I told all my friends about it.
Submitted on: 05/06/13
This has always been one of my favorite dishes at the Macaroni Grill. Wonderful!! This recipe is a keeper!
Submitted on: 03/31/13
I own an Italian restaurant so I know about pasta recipes. This one is my brother in law favorite. I make it at least once a month. Very good.
Submitted on: 03/23/13
I didn't Grill the Chicken & Shrimp, and I couldn't find Prosciutto; let alone Smoked I marinated the Chicken & Shrimp using Liquid Smoke Flavoring (Not too much), then I cooked in a WOK over the stove. I also used Smoke Flavored, thick sliced bacon .....Perfect! This is almost identical, even with my changes : )
Macaroni Grill Penne Rustica..
Submitted on: 09/21/12
I made this meal this evening, and was very impressed how good this was! I wish I would have made more sauce to go on it. It tasted just like the Macaroni Grill's recipe. I will still visit the restaurant, since I love other meals there and the bread of course, but all in all this was a very impressive dinner and everyone loved it!
Jennifer P  
Submitted on: 09/05/12
FABULOUS and SO TASTY! I made this dish last night and was so impressed at how incredibly tasty it was. I'm having company over this weekend (my Italian mother-in-law) just to impress her!
Mrs. Whitaker  
Submitted on: 02/05/12
OMG!!! My husband really enjoyed this dish, he went back for seconds! This is our favorite dish @ Macaroni Grill and I can say we no longer need to go to the restaurant to enjoy one of our favorite dishes. This recipe is amazing!! I am so excited that I was able to make this dish. It surprised me that it taste exactly like the original recipe. It was DELISH!! I doubled the sauce amount like other users suggessted and the left over sauce I left in the pan b/c my husband loves a lot of sauce on his serving
Better than the restaurants!!!
Angelia Chastain  
Submitted on: 04/21/11
My boyfriend and I have been ordering Penne Rustica from Mac Grill for almost 7 years now. We have always wanted to try and make it ourselves but it seemed to complicated to get all the flavors right. This recipe made it easy and hit the flavors perfectly! We liked it even better than the real deal. Same flavors but even better taste!!! Also, we didn't have any Marsala wine and it still tasted great without it.
Submitted on: 12/14/09
ABSOLUTELY TOP NOTCH! This is my husband's favorite dish. I made it for his birthday and he couldn't belive that it didn't come from Romano's. Thanks sooo much!
Submitted on: 09/25/09
This is absolutely the best recipe ever!!! And easy to make.
Submitted on: 05/26/09
...Instead of prosciutto I used smoked bacon, loved it.This was an excellent recipe! My family enjoyed very much! Thanks.
Submitted on: 04/20/09
WOW! this was the first time Ive made anything of one of your books, and it was WONDERFUL! just as good as the original, and I have to say, when he says it makes 4 servings, he's makes more like 6!!! My husband & daughter both loved it & I will definately make it again! Thanks Todd!
Michelle Ortega  
Submitted on: 11/26/08
This is a family favorite! We have it every Thanksgiving now and whenever we have guests over for dinner. Everyone seems to love it! I doubled the recipe and make a bit more sauce than the recipe calls for.
Submitted on: 09/25/08
This is one of the best pasta dish I have ever made. I love this recipe! Definitely will be making this one again.
Submitted on: 04/26/08
WOW!!! i just started cooking and when i made this my boyfriend couldn't believe i actually made it! It was so easy and it was amazing!!!! WOW
Submitted on: 04/07/08
Can I just say..... TO DIE FOR!!!!!!!!! LOOOVVVEEDDD this!! My house smelled like an Italian restaurant and it tasted like it came from Romanos! I too would double the sauce. If you don't eat it when its hot, it tends to dry out a little and does not taste as good when you try reheating it. It was a lot of work for me but WELL WORTH IT! Hubby LOVED it! It will def. be one I make often. Thank you Todd!!!!
Submitted on: 03/09/08
I made this dish for some friends of mine. It is my favorite entree at Macaroni Grill. I made it in a 9 x 13 dish but I think next time I would also double the sauce recipe. It turned out just as good if not better than M.G. Great job and thanks for sharing Todd.
Lauren B  
Submitted on: 02/29/08
When I lived in north Jersey this was one of my favorite places to eat and my all time favorite meal. Now that I live in central Jersey there are no Macroni Grills to speak of. I actually bought the Secret Receipes 2 cookbook just for this recipe. I made it the day I got the book and my husband and I LOVED it, even my 4 year old daughter loved it. It is as one reviewer said better than the original. It was fast to make and very easy. Keep up the good work!!!
Submitted on: 02/27/08
This was good, but a little too rich. It also could use a small amount of red pepper or seasoning.
ken a  
Submitted on: 02/27/08
My 11 year old made this start to finish. WOW fantastic!
Submitted on: 02/26/08
I've made Todd's recipes for years and haven't ever been disappointed. This dish was superb. We had plenty for lunch the next day. This was an instant family favorite. Todd Rocks!!!
Submitted on: 02/25/08
WOW!! This is terrific and we will serve it often. Everyone gave it a thumbs up. Many thanks!!!
Submitted on: 02/24/08
This is amazing. I double the sauce ingredients but kept the meat and pasta the same. This was a good idea because leftovers were still amazing. I put it in a 9x12 to bake it and reheat the next day. I will make this over and over. Definitely time consuming, but well worth it!!!
Submitted on: 02/23/08
I have never been to the Macoroni Grill but I can say that this is an excellent meal. My husband LOVED it and I will definately add this to my permanant recipe file.
Submitted on: 02/21/08
Oh My Stars!! This is an excellent imitation of the original! My husband doubled the recipe and we served it for lunch after our daughter's baptism. It got rave reviews (and we got to enjoy the leftovers which, in my opinion, are even better!).
Sue J  
Submitted on: 02/20/08
I used smoked paprika WOW! makes the dish have that hickory taste of BBQ. Great clone! Keep up the great work, Todd - YOU ARE THE MAN!!!!!!!
Submitted on: 02/20/08
We got this recipe several years ago from TSR. It skyrocketed to our our family's top 3 favorites immediately! 3 Don't for you to remember: 1. Don't skip the grilling part 2. Don't make it unless you have the prosciutto. 3. Don't change a thing! It is perfect exactly the way it is!
Submitted on: 02/19/08
I threw it together for dinner tonight. I substituted the apple juice for the wine. Excellent! It was a big hit with everyone, even the picky eater.
Submitted on: 02/18/08
Unfreaknbelievable how yummy and easy this recipe it!! Keep em coming todderman!!
Beth Ann  
Submitted on: 02/18/08
Thank you for this great recipe! It's fabulous! Loved your Youtube video! Thanks for that also! You are soooo ready for having your own show on Food Network! I hope that's in the works! Also, I hope that you will clone my personal fave from Macaroni Grill: the mushroom ravioli! My nephew, who is a waiter there, says it's extremely popular. I also read that it has about 800 or so calories per dish, part of its appeal, no doubt. Anyway, thank you, thank you, thank you for all your work. I still make your Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookie clone! And I'm incredibly eager to try the Cheesecake FActory Thai Lettuce Wraps clone! I almost wrote you to request that one! Thanks again!!!
Submitted on: 11/12/07
This is my daughter's favorite recipe at Macaroni Grill and she says that this recipe actually tasks better than at the restaurant!
Barbara Vinson  
Submitted on: 11/07/06
Unbelievably awesome! It was so good and just like Macaroni Grill's! Don't let the length of the recipe scare you from trying this - it was pretty easy and didn't take long at all.
Submitted on: 10/24/06
This recipe is excellent. Tastes exactly like the real dish!
Submitted on: 06/05/06
DEAD ON!! AMAZING!! I can tell you from personal experience that this recipe is the best clone I have ever tasted! My husband and I get nothing but Penne Rustica when we go to Macaroni Grill and we just love it. I think it is my husbands favorite dish, ever. I bought this recipe and tried it the next day. Even without the smoked procuitto (which I couldn't find anywhere) it still tastes just like the Macaroni Grill original. My husband came home from work earlier than I had anticipated, I was going to plate the dish and act as if I had ordered carry out, but he spoiled my attempt!! He said had I done that, he would have completely believed it was carry oout, it was that perfect!! It was very very easy to make, although time consuming with all the steps and grilling... but so very well worth it and I cannot wait to make it again and have friends over. Amazing, and simply delicious, well worth the purchase of the recipe!! I wish I could give it more than 5 stars... it would get 10 1/2!!
Submitted on: 02/28/06
Totally yummy! Dead on! I believe it needs about 50% more sauce, buy I like it saucy!
Submitted on: 02/25/06
I have never had this at the Macaroni Grill, but it was DELICIOUS!!My husband, who is a "Food Snob", absolutely loved it.
Katrina Nordland  
Submitted on: 02/12/06
This recipe is so great. Tastes just like the original. I halfed it and it was still the best.
Submitted on: 01/30/06
This is my standard company dinner now. I went to the restaurant recently and ordered this just to see how close your recipe really was (because I'd never had it before trying yours). I was amazed at how they truly tasted the same. SO DELICIOUS!
M. Tucker  
Submitted on: 12/19/05
Oh so good! Loved it! So close to the original and wow, made it at home! The kids loved it also! (4.5)
Submitted on: 12/19/05
This is my all time favorite, the only dish I order at Macaroni Grill. It tastes EXACTLY LIKE the original. My family and friends LOVED it too. It's now a regular pasta dish at our house! Delicious...
Submitted on: 12/11/05
Awsome I couldn't believe you had this I order this every time I go to Macaroni Grill now I can try something else..Thanks.
Submitted on: 12/05/05
Wow! I felt like a gourmet chef serving this dish to my family. It was incredible. I could'nt find the smoked meat or the fresh herbs and it still was fantastic. I used italian seasoning and it turned out delicious. By far one of the best clones out there. My family thanks you.
Submitted on: 11/29/05
WONDERFUL! So easy and fun to make!
Lisa Kim  
Submitted on: 11/29/05
This crowd-pleasing recipe will become a standard in your dining repertoire. Easy to prepare despite the many ingredients. Your guests will think you're a star chef! Thanks Top Secret Recipes!
Submitted on: 11/29/05
Bravo! Thank goodness the portions were big so we could have leftovers the next day. My son just raved about it!
Submitted on: 11/28/05
This was fantastic. Living on the southern coast I had to add more shrimp. Many, many raves at dinner that night.
Submitted on: 11/21/05
Excellent, Excellent, Excellent!!! I added more chicken as I can't eat shrimp and used fat free cream to cut calories. I was afraid that would alter the recipe too much but it was absolutely delicious!!!
Submitted on: 11/21/05
Excellent dish!! I used fat free half and half in place of the heavy cream.
Submitted on: 11/17/05
Tastes like the real thing! Perfect. Couldn't find smoked prociutto but it didn't matter. It still tastes great.
Submitted on: 11/15/05
The perfect comfort food. This recipe was easy to make and tasted great.
Submitted on: 11/14/05
This is my favorite dish at Romano's Macaroni Grill. The recipe did not disappoint. I was surprised to see how much it made. Not complaining, but I would love to see the 4 people who could eat the whole thing!!! :)
Kris M  
Submitted on: 11/14/05
This is my daughter's favorite dish at Romano's. I made it as a surprise for her and she said it tasted exactly the same. The whole family loved it. We plan to add it to our list of favorites from Top Secret Recipes.
Uncle Wigging  
Submitted on: 11/13/05
This was a very nice dish. Everybody loved it. Didn't add a thing extra and it rocked.
Submitted on: 11/12/05
My family raved about this recipe. My husband especially liked the gratinata sauce. Five stars all the way!
Submitted on: 11/11/05
Fabulous!! I've never been to this restaurant (I don't think we have them around my area) so have never tried this. My husband really loved it as did I, it is definitely a keeper and I will make it again. I added alot more chicken than called for and used skinless, boneless thighs instead of breasts and it was wonderful!
Submitted on: 11/10/05
Wow! This dish is just fantastic, the whole family loved it. I added more shrimp for my husband. The whole dish works so well together, a keeper!!
Submitted on: 11/09/05
Awesome. Family is Italian so we know its right on.
Carolyn Beasley  
Submitted on: 11/08/05
Excellent!!!!! You have to try this one.
helga bronsfermayer  
Submitted on: 11/08/05
Just great!!!!!!
Submitted on: 11/08/05
Excellent!!! The cream sauce is so delicious. Tastes just like the Macroni Grill.
Mary Jo  
Submitted on: 11/08/05
Kudos!!! This is my favorite Macaroni Grill Dish. I love to cook so the ingredient list is everthing I had on hand. They skimp on the shrimp so I added more per serving. This is a KEEPER!!
Submitted on: 11/08/05
Excellent as is.
Submitted on: 11/08/05
WONDERFUL!!!!!!!! This is a great dish we all love. My daughter and son-in law LOVE IT!!!!!
Submitted on: 11/07/05
Magnificent. Aaaaahhhhhhh! Superb.
Submitted on: 11/07/05
Awesome dish! The sauce was fairly easy despite the large list of ingredients. My family loved it. This one is a keeper.
Jeannie B  
Submitted on: 11/07/05
Awesome! I substituted roasted sweet red pepper for the pimento, but otherwise this is easy to prepare and a great "company" dish. This has always been one of my favorite dishes from Romano's.
Submitted on: 11/07/05
Unique taste and presentation. Great.