Lobster Spaghetti is Messy Fun

Lobster Spaghetti

Spicy Lobster Spaghetti is what you might call the American cousin to Lobster Fra Diavolo. That assumes that Lobster Fra Diavolo (devilish brother) is indeed an authentic Italian pasta dish. That seems to be debatable. I will say the idea of Lobster Spaghetti seems more like an East Coast, first-generation Italian-American version of the spicy seafood and tomato-sauced pasta that have roots along Italy’s Amalfi coast. But I’m not here to discuss semantics. I’m in the mood for lobster. The idea of a big messy plate of Lobster Spaghetti appeals to me more than the difficult to pronounce Fra Diavolo.

Speaking of messes – at its very best lobster can be messy too. In fact, it’s often served with a bib. Still (ironically), lobster is usually reserved for white tablecloth celebrations. We pull out the bone china, the sterling silver lobster forks, and get the butter melting for an impressive, but thoroughly predictable presentation.

Well, I’ve got something messier in mind.

Wine Pairing

La Caudrina “La Selvatica” Asti 

La Caudrina "La Selvatica" Asti
You blew your wad on a couple of lobster tails, yet you still want to serve an impressive nuanced bubbly alongside the meal. Champagne’s out. A quality Prosecco or Cava could work, but they don’t quite have the je ne sais quoi elegance you’re looking for. I’d like to propose a delicate, lightly sweet Moscato d’Asti. Specifically, the […]
Ken Eskenazi

Price $19

Pairs well with shellfish, grilled salmon, soft cheeses, prosciutto & melon, figs, peach shortcake, or on its own as an aperitif.

Lobster Spaghetti

My version of Lobster Spaghetti is made spicy with habanero and is garnished with an unexpected fistful of fresh mint. It’s inspired by Dave Pasternack, the chef, and owner of Esca in New York City. However, mine is messier. Pasternack chops a whole lobster into 8 pieces, but I prefer to keep the lobster tails whole and let the diner break the shells open with their hands before twirling the lobster hunks into forkfuls of spicy noodles.

Which leaves diners with a dilemma. How much mess do they want to endure?

There are two ways to eat messy spaghetti. Both of them make rational adults feel like boisterous children (which is why spaghetti is considered fun food). First, there’s the Italian Grandpa method of holding a fork in one hand, a spoon in the other, and twirling the pasta into a little ball that can be slipped into your mouth. I call this the “Sunday Supper” style because it helps control the mess a big a pile of noodles promises. The other way to eat spaghetti is to simply get in there face-first and suck down some sauce and slurp up some noodles. I think this is the preferred method for Lobster Spaghetti. Once you’ve got your face in the plate, it just makes sense to crack open a lobster tail with both hands. Go ahead and use your fingers to coax the sweet meat from the shell. You may as well lick the spicy red sauce from your fingers – because nobody’s watching. They’ve got a big (messy) plate of Lobster Spaghetti in front of them too. GREG

Habanero MintLobster Tails Pasta/AstiLobster Spaghetti

Spicy Lobster Spaghetti 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Inspired by Dave PasternackPublished
Spicy Lobster Spaghetti


  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • kosher salt (as needed)
  • 4 whole, raw lobster tails
  • 3 tablespoon canola oil (or other high smoke point oil)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 clove garlic (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 1 habanero chile (seeded and minced, or to taste)
  • 2 cup tomato sauce
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • freshly cracked black pepper (as needed)


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add spaghetti, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain but do not rinse, reserving ½ cup cooking water.

Meanwhile, use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to carefully cut top side of lobster shells lengthwise all the way to, but not through, the tail.

Heat 3 tbsp oil in large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add tails shell side down. Wrap your hand in a towel and use tongs to hold the lobster in contact with the pan and to move the tails around with different areas in contact with the pan until the shells begin to turn red, about 4 minutes. 

Add wine to the pan, cover with lid, and lower the heat to medium-low; cook about 2 minutes more, or until the meat begins to look opaque. Remove lid, add garlic and chiles and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add reserved pasta water and tomato sauce. Cook until slightly thickened.

Add pasta to sauce with tails, tossing to coat then transfer to a large serving plate. Garnish with mint, season with salt and pepper; serve immediately.

I used local spiny lobsters for this recipe. Maine lobsters will get more red in cooking.