A quick and easy recreation of a classic Maggiano's Ziti
I have always been a huge fan of baked ziti, with the cheese, noodles, and meat sauce – it’s delicious. And despite having a great ziti recipe of my own, I order it pretty frequently at restaurants. One restaurant whose ziti I particularly enjoyed was Maggiano’s. They call it Taylor Street Baked Ziti, and as soon as I had it, I knew I had to make it.
Deconstructing the Recipe
Maggiano’s Taylor Street Baked Ziti has a few obvious ingredients just by looking at it. The ziti I ordered at Maggiano’s is below. Ziti noodles, a meaty tomato sauce, and broiled cheese. If you read the ingredients list, you’ll find it lists Italian sausage, tomato ragu, and mozzarella. This explains that the meat in the tomato sauce is Italian sausage, and you’ll notice fennel in the flavor of the meat which backs that up. Mozzarella looks great broiled, so its an obvious choice for the topping.
While deconstructing this recipe, you may think, this sounds too easy. Isn’t ziti supposed to be complicated and take hours of cooking? Ziti can be a difficult dish to make, but this one is relatively straight forward, and should come together in just about 30 minutes. So you can make Copycat Maggiano’s Taylor Street Baked Ziti whenever you want it.
How to closely replicate Taylor Street Baked Ziti
Now that we know what’s in Maggiano’s Taylor Street Baked Ziti, we can start replicating it. Let’s start with the sauce. To replicate the sauce, just fry 8oz of ground Italian sausage, then add 16 oz of tomato sauce and a few spices, simmer for 5-10 minutes, and you’re ready to go.
Once your sauce is ready, the rest will come together pretty quickly. In an oven-safe dish (I used a round 9” ceramic baking dish), combine the cooked ziti noodles and sauce. Top evenly with mozzarella cheese. If you’re using a bigger dish, use additional cheese to keep an even layer over all of the pasta. Now comes the important part for the perfect copycat appearance: the broiler.
Arrange an oven rack to be close to but not directly under the broiler. Set the broiler to high. Place your cheese covered ziti onto the rack closest to the broiler, and let it cook for 1-2 minutes, checking every 30 seconds. You’re looking for those beautiful brown bubbles to form all over the cheese, but make sure to pull the ziti as soon as it’s perfect to prevent burning.
Differences from other Ziti recipes
If you’ve made a classic ziti before, you may be wondering about some of the key differences between Copycat Maggiano’s Taylor Street Baked Ziti and a classic ziti.
- Difference 1: No layers. A classic baked ziti is a layered dish, with layers of sauce, noodles, ricotta, and mozzarella laid out until the very top is covered with a final layer of mozzarella. Maggiano’s specifically does not layer their ziti, and I suspect it has everything to do with the final broil on the cheese. While the ziti would need to bake for an extended time to properly cook in the cheese layers, simply topping the plate with cheese and broiling gets it to the table in no time.
- Difference 2: Broiling instead of baking. The pictures on Maggiano’s site say it all – the cheese is broiled to perfection and it’s delicious. Those browned cheese spots are a hallmark of broiled cheese. But isn’t baked ziti, well, baked? Most of the time, yes, as the sauce cooks the cheese layers and melds everything together, while also browning on top and around the edges. However, that baking takes a lot of time (I recommend 40 minutes in my recipe), and that’s far too long for a restaurant to bake each serving of ziti. For that reason, the final plate is broiled.
Optional changes to suit your preference
The best part about making Copycat Maggiano’s Taylor Street Baked Ziti at home is that you can change it to fit your specific taste.
Don’t like Italian sausage? Try these tips:
- Italian sausage is heavily flavored by fennel. Maggiano’s sauce is likely using a classic style Italian sausage with a lot of fennel flavor. If you don’t usually like Italian sausage but still want to replicate this dish, I recommend using a mild Italian sausage (it will be labeled as mild in the grocery store). The mild variety is much less heavy on the fennel, while still having the other flavors.
- If Italian sausage in any form is unappealing, you can also substitute it for ground beef. The flavor will be different from Maggiano’s, but still very good.
Don’t have ziti noodles? Try this:
- Any short, tubular pasta will be tasty in this recipe. Sure, it may not be a true ziti, but who’s going to know? Use penne, mostaccioli, or even rigatoni and you’ll have a delicious meal.
Don’t have (or trust) a broiler? Try this:
- If you don’t have a broiler, bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese starts to change color. It may not be the perfect dots from the broiler, but you’ll enjoy it just as much.
Other Maggiano Copycat Recipes to Try
How to make Copycat Maggiano's Taylor Street Baked Ziti
Copycat Maggiano's Taylor Street Baked Ziti
- 1 Oven safe baking dish I used 9" ceramic pie dish
- 8 oz Ziti Noodles
- 8 oz Italian Sausage (use ground sausage or raw cased sausage)
- 16 oz Tomato Sauce
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano
- 1/2 tbsp Minced Garlic
- 2/3 cup Shredded Mozzarella
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil for frying
- If using cased Italian sausages, break them open and remove the ground meat. If you bought just ground Italian sausage, proceed as is.
- Start a pot of water boiling, enough for 8oz of pasta.
- Heat the olive oil on medium high in a skillet large enough to hold 16 oz of sauce. Fry the Italian Sausage until almost completely browned, about 5 minutes. It will finish in the sauce. Break up the ground sausage into small bits as if it were ground beef.
- Add the tomato sauce, oregano, salt, and garlic, stir to combine. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. You can probably start your noodles now. Follow the box instructions.
- Combine the cooked noodles and sauce in a greased oven safe dish. I used a 9” ceramic pie dish.
- Cover ziti with the shredded mozzarella.
- Broil on high for 1-2 minutes. Mine was perfect at about 1:30. I put my dish on the second rack from the top, which was the perfect distance to get that browning pattern on top. Your oven may perform differently.