How to Make Penne ai Quattro Formaggi

Replacing the gluten in your favorite restaurant dishes can be tricky, but this cheesy pasta is a dead ringer for the old-school favorite.

This Penne ai Quattro Formaggi recipe is a perfect replica of the Italian restaurant favorite. Four Cheese Pasta, now gluten-free.

I was chatting with a few gluten-free friends the other day, and we were talking about how much better we feel after going GF. Then one said she missed Chef Art Smith’s Cheesy Biscuits. (Art Smith was Oprah’s chef, and owns a restaurant called Table 52, where you can acquire Cheesy Biscuits: but not GF ones.) We started making a list of the gluten-full things we missed.

The treats + dishes we’re missing:

The conversation turned to the restaurant dishes or grocery store items we hadn’t been able to replace: Spinach Gorgonzola Pasta from Gayle’s Bakery in Santa Cruz, CA, Lou Malnati’s Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza, proper Armenian Souborag (if you find good GF Phyllo Dough, light the GF Bat Signal, I will respond), Chocodiles, the icing from Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cakes, real red licorice, and a few others.

Two of us brought up the pinky-red Penne ai Quattro Formaggi at a local Italian restaurant called Ovidio’s. I knew I could probably nail that recipe from taste memory – it’s been over 6 years since I’ve eaten the dish, but the flavors are burned in my brain.

After three attempts, I’ve got a recipe that’s right on the cheesy money – I know you’ll love it too.

I called Ovidio’s to ask about the cheeses, because I wanted to make a truly authentic Quattro Formaggi recipe. You can swap the cheeses if you like – but this blend has the tang, sharpness and salt of the the restaurant’s recipe.

ridges on gluten-free penne pasta

Choosing Gluten-Free Pasta: It’s serious business.

You definitely want to use the right pasta shape for this recipe. A shorter tube pasta is best. Penne is cut with pointed ends and has ridges for the sauce to cling to, and penne is my first choice. Mostaccioli has the same shape with a smooth texture. Or rigatoni (square ends, wider tube) or ziti (smooth exterior, slightly shorter than penne) will work.

There are tons of gluten-free pastas on the market. My current favorites are: fresh GF pasta from Manini’s (find it in the cold case at premium grocers) or dried pasta from Pamela’s, Schar or Jovial.

Build the meal around the Penne ai Quattro Formaggi:

Serve with a crisp salad and a glass of wine or my Single Serving Sangria. For a truly authentic Italian meal, finish with a slice of Chocolate Hazelnut Cake called Torta Gianduia.

Now on to the cheesy biscuits and deep dish!

Quattro Formaggi recipe
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The Perfect Quattro Formaggi Recipe | Four Cheese Pasta

This Penne ai Quattro Formaggi recipe is a perfect replica of the Italian restaurant favorite. Four Cheese Pasta, now gluten-free.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: gluten-free cheesy recipes, gluten-free pasta, gluten-free penne
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 995kcal
Author: K.C. Cornwell


  • 1 pound Gluten-Free Penne Pasta cooked al dente
  • 1/2 cup Fontina cheese grated
  • 1/2 cup Sharp Cheddar cheese grated
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 1/4 cup Goat Cheese, chevre
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 cup Tomato Puree
  • 1 cole Garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt or more to taste
  • 1/3 cup Fresh Parsley minced


  • Warm the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, and add in the garlic to soften for about 2 minutes. Add in the tomato puree, cream and salt and whisk to combine.
    Once the tomato mixture begins to bubble, whisk in the goat cheese and half of the parsley until smooth.
  • Turn the heat off, and leave the pan over the warm burner. Whisk in the Cheddar thoroughly, and then do the same for the Fontina and the Parmesan. Taste the sauce, and stir in more salt if needed.
  • Toss the cooked pasta in the warm sauce, and spoon into bowls to enjoy immediately, topped with remaining parsley.



Serve with a glass of red wine and enjoy!


Calories: 995kcal | Carbohydrates: 142g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 786mg | Potassium: 235mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1562IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 393mg | Iron: 1mg

Photos: Meg van der Kruik

bowl of Penne ai Quattro Formaggi recipe

Frequently Asked Questions about this Quattro Formaggi recipe:

Can I change the cheeses in this recipe?

Yes! Change up the cheeses however you please. However, the sharp Cheddar, goat cheese & Parmesan all bring important flavors to the table.

Can I make this with regular pasta/not gluten-free?

Absolutely. The sauce is naturally gluten-free, so you can put it on any pasta you choose.

Is this Quattro Formaggi recipe authentic?

I got it from Italians running an Italian restaurant who close for 3 weeks a year to go back to Italy. Probably? I think so. My grandfather loved it – so I think it’s legit.

What are the four cheeses in Quattro Formaggi?

The four cheeses in in Quattro Formaggi can change with individual recipes, but the pasta includes Fontina cheese, Sharp Cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, and Goat Cheese (chevre).

What does Quattro Formaggi mean?

Quattro Formaggi means four cheeses.

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