A Timpano Recipe! Stanley Tucci And Tony Shaloub’s “Pasta Pie!” Here’s The Timpano Recipe From The “Big Night” Film! It’s “Dinner And A Movie!”

Want A Slice Of Pasta Pie?

I love food. I love Italian food. And I just might love this dish most of all! Imagine being served a beautifully prepared cake – but when you cut into it, you get this!

Or Is It A Pasta Cake?

This one looks like a giant frosted cake!

Look, however you want to describe it, it’s an amazing dish that I plan to make as part of my “dinner and a movie” series, because this incredible dish is featured in one of my favorite “food” movies!

Big Night – 1996

Many consider this to be the best movie ever devoted to food. This 1996 labor of love stars Minnie Driver, Tony Shaloub and Stanley Tucci – AND DIRECTED BY– Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott.

It’s the poignant story of two brothers who struggle to save their failing restaurant – and come up with an idea to get publicity – by putting on a “big night” for a celebrity guest.

While Tucci is smooth as silk at handling the “front of the house”, his more volatile brother Shaloub is a perfectionist in the kitchen – something that threatens to torpedo their “Big Night.”

Check out the trailer:

The signature dish of “Big Night” is the amazing “Timpano” – which I call a “pasta pie” and “pasta cake” interchangeably – but, the “Timpano” is defined as:

“A deep-dish Italian pie consisting of a pastry shell filled with layers of pasta, salami, cheese, meatballs, hardboiled eggs, tomato sauce, and other ingredients that is covered with a crust and baked.”

As you can see, it’s an amazing dish, and the film meticulously showcases the creation of this incredible meal!

Yes, Stanley Tucci is actually “listening” to this dish!

Here is the “Big Night Timpano” recipe – everything made from scratch, but you all know how to simplify with some pre-made ingredients if you want to!


2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil


1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 cup fine bread crumbs

Thanks to the terrific website “Kimchee Mom”, here is a picture of the various steps in the process, all nicely displayed in a single image:


1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, minced
1 medium rib celery, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 tablespoons chicken broth or white wine
2 28-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes, passed through the medium disk of a food mill to remove seeds
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1/2 pound penne or other short-shaped pasta, cooked al dente, drained and reserved
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 hard-boiled eggs, cut in quarters
1 pound mozzarella, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 pound thinly sliced Genoa salami


To make the pasta, mix the flour and the salt together, then stir the salted flour with the eggs and the oil. Continue to stir until the dough comes together in a ball. On a floured work surface, knead the dough for 10 minutes, or until silky smooth. Wrap with plastic and set aside at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
Combine all the meatball ingredients. Roll into about 65 balls, using 1 tablespoon of meat for each. In a large nonstick frying pan, cook as many meatballs as will fit in 1 layer over medium heat, turning occasionally, for 20 minutes. Repeat if necessary. Set aside in a bowl at room temperature.
In the same pan used to make the meatballs and utilizing the fat left in the pan, cook the onion, carrot, celery and garlic over medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Dissolve the tomato paste in the stock or wine and stir into the vegetables. Cook the mixture for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and basil. Simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
To make the timpano, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the penne with 2 cups of the sauce. Roll out the pasta on a lightly floured surface to make a 26-inch round. Grease a 8-quart stainless- steel bowl with 2 tablespoons of oil and gently mold the pasta sheet to the contours of the bowl; there should be enough hanging over the edge to fold over and cover the filling.
Spoon 1 cup of penne into the bowl. Top with 1/2 cup of the sauce, 12 pieces of egg, half of the meatballs and 1/3 of the mozzarella. Repeat the process, this time using 3 cups of penne, 1 1/2 cups of sauce, the remaining eggs, meatballs and cheese. Top with the remaining penne and sauce. Create a final layer with the salami. Fold the pasta over the filling and brush with 1 tablespoon of oil. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
Bake the timpano for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 45 more minutes. To check if it’s done make a small hole at the top using a knife blade. If steam comes out and the cheese is melted, it’s done. Otherwise, bake for 10 to 15 more minutes. To serve, remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Carefully turn upside down onto a large platter.
YIELD 6 to 8 servings
Originally published with FOOD; Eye Candy
By Molly O’Neill, November 16, 1997

There you have it, an incredible feast for you and friends to dig into before watching this great movie about the love of food!

Also…At the end of “Big Night”, there is a static 4 minute scene involving a single fried egg – the shot above captures the exact camera shot – a moment of simplicity that is full of unspoken emotion between the two brothers – it will make you cry and hungry at the same time.

So there is your “dinner and a movie” tonight – another Italian masterpiece!

I previously shared the meatball recipe from “Goodfellas”, which included the legendary “Goodfellas Garlic” process as shown here by the great character Actor Paul Sorvino – see it here:


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Let me know if you’ve made a Timpano!

Categories: Art, Books / Media, cookbooks, Cult Movies, Food, food blog, Food Review, Great Films, Hollywood, Independent Cinema, Movies, Pop Culture, Recipes, Restaurants, Talent/Celebrities, Wacky Food

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23 replies



  2. I have to ask..your recipe calls for a 3 quart pan? That seems pretty small given the amount of ingredients for the dish. Based on the size in the image I’m guessing that’s at least a 6-8 qt dish? Stanley’s recipe even calls for a 8qt bowl.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, that is some pie and I know that most of my family would love a slice..what an awesome pie…I will add that unless it was for a really special occasion I am likely to make it unless they were ALL at the dinner table and then it would be a great centrepiece 🙂 BM just in case 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Did you write the recipe down as you watched the film, John? It really does sound delicious. My son, Michael, loves pasta and will love this recipe.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. OMG! Throw me a piece of that pie!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can’t believe I’ve never seen this movie! Love the cast, and Italian is my favorite type of food (I can eat pasta every day!).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. LOVE that film! And I would love to eat the pie. But there’s no way I am going to try to make one. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am, Pete…I just have to take it on when I know there are happy friends to share it with! and the film is absolutely beautiful…Stanley Tucci has a new TV SERIES premiering on CNN next week and I will promote it because he’s a national treasure and I can’t wait to see him eat and drink his way through Italy!

      Liked by 1 person


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