Spaghetti allo Scoglio | Italian Seafood Pasta Recipe

Spaghetti allo Scoglio, it’s a classic seafood recipe famous throughout Italy like Spaghetti with Clams.

Italian Seafood Pasta is just a type of pasta such as spaghetti or linguine seasoned with a seafood sauce made with mussels, clams, shrimp, squid and fresh cherry tomatoes.

You can use spaghetti – as we did – or, alternatively, use linguine. The long format is better suited to this delicious sauce. In the Neapolitan tradition, however, they often use Paccheri as well.

This is an easy recipe, it just takes a little time and some patience to clean the seafood and be ready with all the ingredients.

Italian seafood pasta- spaghetti allo scoglio

First of all, purge the clams and mussels and then cook them. Then clean the shrimps and squids. Once the sauce is ready, the secret for a perfect result is to finish cooking the pasta in the saucepan with the seafood sauce. In this way the pasta takes in all the flavors and aromas!

Italian Seafood Pasta is perfect for all seasons, from a summer dinner with friends, to a family dinner on Christmas Eve!

Spaghetti allo Scoglio is a simple dish to make and always very welcome. It’s perfect for those who love fish and the flavors of the sea!

Italian seafood pasta- spaghetti allo scoglio

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How to Make Spaghetti allo Scoglio from Scratch

  • Prep Time: 30 Min + about 1 hours to purge the clams
  • Cook Time: 20 Min
  • Servings: 4


  • 350 g (12 oz) of spaghetti
  • 1 kg (2 pound) of clams with shells
  • 1 kg (2 pound) of mussels with shells
  • 300 grams (2/3 pound) of squid
  • 300 g (2/3 pound) of shrimps
  • 200 g (1/2 pound) of ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 1 fresh hot chilli pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil 
  • 150 ml (1/2 cup ) of dry white wine
  • a bunch (1/3 cup) of fresh parsley
  • salt to taste

Kitchen Tools and Equipment

A very fine mesh strainer is essential to filter the water of the clams and mussels. We opted for this professional super fine mesh strainer with strengthened non slip handles.

Even a large and low pot is important because it must contain both the sauce and spaghetti, that will have to finish cooking in the seafood sauce. So have a look to this stainless steel dutch oven casserole with lid.

Very useful to drain spaghetti directly into the pan to continue cooking, is this silicone spaghetti strainer.

Finally, another useful tool in the preparation of this recipe is an electric chopper to chop fresh parsley which is the final touch of your Spaghetti allo Scoglio.

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To prepare this Italian seafood pasta recipe, start by cleaning the clams and mussels. Then clean squids and shrimps. Here’s how you need to do it:

Clean and Cook the Clams

How to clean and cook the clams step 1 (1)

Step 1) – Rinse clams under running water and then let them soak in plenty of cold water with a handful of coarse salt.

The clams should remain in the cold water for at least an hour, preferably two, to purge. Keep this time in mind when you decide to make this recipe.

Place the clams in a pan and cook over high heat covered with a lid. Wait for them to open, this will take about 3 minutes.

How to clean and cook the clams step 2b (1)

Step 2) – Now strain the clam sauce with a fine strainer but DO NOT throw away their water, keep it aside.

Finally shell the clams, keeping some clams with their shells that you will use for the final decoration of the dish.

How to clean and cook the mussels step 1 (1)

Clean and Cook the Mussels

Step 1) – Clean the mussels by scraping off any impurities with the blade of a small knife. Tear off the byssus, that is the bearded part that comes out of the shell. Then, with the help of a stainless steel sponge, clean well their shells.

Place the mussels in a pan and cook over high heat covered with a lid. Wait for them to open, this will take about 3 minutes.

We prefer to cook clams and mussels separately in case the clams release a lot of sand.

How to clean and cook the mussels step 2 (1)

Step 2) – Now strain the mussels sauce with a fine strainer. Finally shell the mussels, keeping some of them with their shells: you will use them for the final decoration of the dish.

Clean the Squid

how to clean calamari step 1

Step 1) – Wash the squid under running water, then remove the entrails, the eyes, the central beak and the internal bone.

How to clean calamari step 2 (1)

Step 2) – Finally remove the skin and cut them into rings. Set aside.

Clean the Shrimps

How to clean shrimps (1)

Clean the shrimps, taking care to remove the dark filament, all the shell and the heads. Set aside.

Now that you have prepared and cleaned all the seafood, let’s see how to make the sauce for the spaghetti allo scoglio.

How to Make Italian Red Seafood Sauce for Spaghetti allo Scoglio

Italian seafood pasta_spaghetti allo scoglio step 1 (1)

Step 1) – Wash and chop the cherry tomatoes then chop the parsley. Set aside.

Italian seafood pasta_spaghetti allo scoglio step 2 (1)

Step 2) – In a large saucepan, sauté the peeled garlic cloves in the extra virgin olive oil. Add the red hot chili pepper and the squid. Cook for about 2 minutes over medium heat.

Italian seafood pasta_spaghetti allo scoglio step 3 (1)

Step 3) – Then raise the heat and add the white wine. Stir and allow the alcohol to evaporate. Finally add the mussels and clams and lower the heat.

Italian seafood pasta_spaghetti allo scoglio step 4 (1)

Step 4) – Add a ladle of clams water and then the chopped tomatoes. Mix and cook over high heat for about 10 minutes.

Italian seafood pasta_spaghetti allo scoglio step 5 (1)

Step 5) – Finally, add the shrimp and chopped parsley. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes (shrimp have very short cooking times).

Italian seafood sauce is ready. Remove the garlic cloves and chili pepper (see note below).

Italian seafood pasta_spaghetti allo scoglio step 6 (1)

Step 6) – Now cook the pasta. Bring plenty of salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti according to the cooking times described on their packaging. Using a slotted spoon, drain the spaghetti 3 minutes before the end of cooking time.

Italian seafood pasta_spaghetti allo scoglio step 7 (1)

Step 7) – Place them directly in the pan with the seafood sauce. Stir and finish cooking the spaghetti in the pan for another 3 minutes over high heat. This way they will better absorb the flavor of the seafood sauce.

Stir well and transfer the best Spaghetti allo Scoglio you have ever eaten to a serving dish. Garnish with the shells kept aside and serve.

NOTE ABOUT GARLIC AND HOT CHILI PEPPER: We chose to leave the garlic and hot chili pepper whole. This way you can easily remove them from the sauce. If you prefer, though, you can chop them up and leave them in the sauce, depending on your taste.

Italian seafood pasta- spaghetti allo scoglio


Enjoy your spaghetti allo scoglio immediately and if there is any left over, it can be stored in the refrigerator in a food container for up to a day.

We do not recommend freezing. However, you can freeze the seafood sauce if you have used fresh ingredients.

What Type of Tomato for Authentic Pasta allo Scoglio?

We used cherry tomatoes, but if you can’t find them because it’s not the season, you can use other qualities of very ripe tomatoes, such as grape or vine tomatoes.

If you just can’t find fresh tomatoes of any kind, don’t worry. You can make pasta allo scoglio with canned peeled tomatoes or even with tomato passata.

So, sauté the garlic and add the peeled tomatoes, crushed with a fork or your hands or add the tomato passata. Cook the sauce and THEN add the fish. This is because, unlike fresh tomatoes, canned or pureed tomatoes need to cook a little longer.

Italian seafood pasta- spaghetti allo scoglio

Spaghetti allo Scoglio in Bianco (Without Tomatoes)

Spaghetti allo scoglio “in bianco” – that is without tomato – is a very popular variant in Italy.

The recipe is exactly the same as the one we described without the addition of cherry tomatoes or tomato sauce.

This variation maximizes the flavor of the seafood, so fresh fish is a must for a more intense flavor.

We recommend slightly increasing the amounts of oil, parsley and clam water to get a little more sauce in which to finish cooking the pasta.

Variety of Seafood

If you want, you can add some scampi and octopus. Or substitute shrimp for the scampi and squid for the octopus. It depends on your taste.

The important thing is that the three main varieties are present in the seafood sauce: molluscs, crustaceans and shells.

Italian seafood pasta- spaghetti allo scoglio

Italian Seafood Pasta with Frozen Fish

To make spaghetti allo scoglio you can use either fresh fish, which is certainly tastier, or good quality frozen fish.

If you have opted for frozen fish, you must first defrost it. Then proceed as indicated in the recipe.

A Tip for a More Intense Flavor

If you are using whole shrimp and not just the tails, you may want to use the heads to add more flavor to the sauce.

Add the heads immediately at the beginning of the preparation along with the garlic cloves so they have time to release all their flavor into the sauce. Remove them before serving the pasta.

Italian seafood pasta- spaghetti allo scoglio

Pasta “allo Scoglio” Vs Pasta “alla Pescatora”

In the menus of Italian restaurants or in recipes there are many names for pasta with fish and they are often considered synonyms: “Pasta allo Scoglio”, “Pasta alla Pescatora”, “Pasta ai frutti di mare”.

The latter name is very generic and is good for any recipe with mixed fish.

But there is a difference between “Scoglio” and “Pescatora”.

The main difference is the type of fish used: in “Scoglio” there are no fish (such as sea bass, swordfish, sole for example) as in Fish Ragu recipe. In “pasta allo Scoglio” there are only molluscs, crustaceans, mussels and clams.

In “Pescatora”, instead, there are no molluscs with shell.

In both recipes, the essential thing is that the sauce is made with mixed fish/seafood, not just one type.

As we said, tomato is optional, the choice of the type of pasta as well, even though in the most common version they use spaghetti or linguine.

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