I enjoy Big Night more each time I see it. After years of seeing the film over and over on cable, I decided to make the fabled timpano, a drumlike pastry filled with “all the good things in life,” per the film. It’s so impressive in the movie that you can’t help but salivate over the thing.

Here is the (five-page) recipe I followed.

Here is what the end product looked like:

And here are the (substantial) changes to the recipe I made; if done “the right way” the estimated time expense is about 10-12 hours. I spent 2 in preparation, and 2 in the baking (not really working). The end result: very delicious, but far too much food for two people! I highly recommend trying it out when you have a lot of free time. I wonder how the remaining half will keep ’til tomorrow…


– First off, I don’t have a “timpano bowl,” so I used a smaller, deep, round casserole — a real timpano serves 12. Mine (thank God!) only serves 5-6.

– I didn’t make my own dough. I rolled out frozen Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets, which gave it an interesting crunchiness and, well, a little “puffiness” too. A Godsend vs. rolling your own!

– My “little meatballs” were not so little. Do you know how long it would take to fry that many 1/2-teaspoon meatballs!? Mine ended up being 1- to 2-tablespoon sized out of laziness. They were fine.

– I used sweet Italian sausage in the meatballs instead of ground beef.

– I (sad to say) did not make my own ragu. I used various Barilla jarred sauces, added red wine, fresh basil, and fresh oregano. It was fine.

– Did not need nearly the 3 pounds of ziti (I used rigatoni) called for. My half-size timpano needed maybe half a pound. Why waste all the room on pasta!?

– Skipped the hard-boiled eggs.

– Could not find a non-sliced salami, so I used sliced salami.

– Oddly, could not find provolone cheese of any kind. Used Sonoma Jack, which turned out very well I think.

– Otherwise, followed the recipe pretty much exactly, halving all the ingredients and cooking it for the same amount of time as a regular timpano. (Only cooled it half an hour.)

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Christopher Null

Christopher Null is a veteran technology journalist and the owner of Null Media, a custom blogging company.