Chicken Riggies: Ultimate Recipe, Top Restaurants, and Health Tips for a Delicious Experience

Chicken Riggies: Ultimate Recipe, Top Restaurants, and Health Tips for a Delicious Experience

Chicken Riggies originate from Utica, New York, in the 1980s. Local Italian-American restaurants created this distinctive pasta dish, blending influences from traditional Italian cuisine and American flavors. The name “riggies” comes from rigatoni, the pasta used in the recipe, and “chicken” refers to the primary protein. Now, it’s a staple in Central New York and celebrated at various food festivals.

Key Ingredients and Variations

Chicken Riggies feature several key ingredients, yet variations are common to suit different tastes. The primary components include:

  • Chicken: Typically, boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • Rigatoni: A type of tubular pasta that holds the sauce well.
  • Hot Peppers: Cherry peppers or other spicy varieties add heat and flavor.
  • Bell Peppers: These provide sweetness and color contrast.
  • Tomato Sauce: The base sauce, often creamy, combines tomatoes with cream or heavy cream.
  • Onions & Garlic: Aromatics that enhance the dish’s flavor profile.

Variations may incorporate mushrooms, olives, or different types of cheese like Parmesan or Romano. Some versions replace chicken with Italian sausage for a different twist.

How to Make Chicken Riggies

Preparing the Chicken

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until it’s browned on all sides, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set it aside.

Making the Signature Sauce

In the same skillet, add chopped onions and sauté until they’re translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for an additional minute. Incorporate sliced hot and bell peppers, cooking until they’re softened, around 5 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes or marinara sauce, followed by heavy cream. Return the chicken to the skillet and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. If you prefer a richer sauce, add grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Best Practices for Cooking Pasta

Boil rigatoni pasta in salted water according to the package instructions, typically 10-12 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of pasta water. Toss the pasta with the sauce, adding a bit of pasta water if needed to reach desired consistency. Serve immediately, garnished with chopped parsley or additional cheese.

Pairing Suggestions

Ideal Side Dishes

Complement Chicken Riggies with side dishes that enhance its rich flavors. Consider serving garlic bread, which can soak up the creamy tomato sauce. Steamed vegetables like broccoli or asparagus add a healthy balance to the meal. A fresh garden salad with a light vinaigrette cuts through the richness of the sauce, offering a refreshing contrast. Roasted potatoes, seasoned with rosemary and olive oil, provide a hearty and flavorful side option.

Pair Chicken Riggies with wines that enhance the dish’s Italian-American flavors. Try a medium-bodied red wine like Chianti or Barbera; these wines’ acidity balances the creamy sauce and peppers. For white wine enthusiasts, an Italian Pinot Grigio works well, offering a crisp and refreshing complement to the rich flavors. Non-alcoholic options include sparkling water with a slice of lemon or a classic Italian soda. Both of these drinks cleanse the palate between bites, ensuring each mouthful remains delightful.

Where to Find the Best Chicken Riggies

Famous Restaurants and Locations

Several renowned restaurants serve exceptional Chicken Riggies in Utica, NY. Ancora!, located on Genesee Street, is famous for its rich, creamy sauce and tender chicken. Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse, with multiple locations, offers a mouthwatering variant featuring their signature hot peppers. Vescio’s Franklin Hotel in Rome, NY, provides an authentic experience with its robust and spicy rendition of the dish. These restaurants are well-known for their consistency and authenticity, making them top spots to savor Chicken Riggies.

Restaurant Location Notable Feature
Ancora! Genesee Street, Utica Rich, creamy sauce and tender chicken
Delmonico’s Steakhouse Multiple Locations Signature hot peppers
Vescio’s Franklin Hotel Rome, NY Robust and spicy rendition

Making Chicken Riggies at Home vs. Restaurant

Preparing Chicken Riggies at home allows customization of ingredients and spice levels. While dining out at a restaurant like Ancora! or Delmonico’s provides the benefit of professional expertise and a consistent culinary experience, making them at home offers flexibility in terms of portion size and flavor adjustments. Home-cooked versions can incorporate preferred ingredients, such as different cheeses or additional vegetables. Cooking at home also allows for experimenting with various sauce consistencies and pasta types.

Health Considerations

Nutritional Information

Chicken Riggies combines protein, carbohydrates, and fats in one dish. A typical serving includes 500-700 calories, with around 30 grams of protein, 60 grams of carbohydrates, and 20 grams of fat. The creamy tomato sauce contributes to its richness, adding saturated fats and sodium, which can impact heart health if consumed in excess. Monitoring portion sizes helps manage calorie intake and maintain balanced nutrition.

  • Whole Wheat or Gluten-Free Pasta: Replace standard rigatoni with whole wheat or gluten-free alternatives to increase fiber intake and cater to gluten sensitivities.
  • Low-Fat Dairy Products: Use low-fat or fat-free cream and cheese to reduce saturated fat content.
  • Lean Chicken Cuts: Opt for skinless chicken breasts instead of thighs to decrease fat levels.
  • Vegetable Additions: Add bell peppers, spinach, or mushrooms for extra nutrients and fiber.


Chicken Riggies offers a delightful fusion of flavors that’s sure to impress your taste buds. Whether you choose to make it at home with healthier alternatives or enjoy it at renowned restaurants, this dish provides a versatile and satisfying meal option. Embrace the rich culinary heritage of Utica by trying out different variations and making Chicken Riggies a staple in your recipe collection. With its unique blend of ingredients and flavors, it’s a dish that promises both comfort and excitement in every bite.

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