Although carbohydrates are no longer one of the four dietary categories, pasta remains a global favorite. Here are the 98 finest pasta in America, from Italian-American red sauce to Roman carbonara and cacao e pepe.
1. Tomato & Basil Spaghetti at Scarpetta by Scott Conant
One of the most well-known and appreciated tomato sauce recipes in the country comes from celebrity chef Scott Conant. Slowly simmering perfectly ripe tomatoes in olive oil with garlic, crushed red pepper, and basil until the flavors blend together like a symphony is the key to his simple yet magnificent sauce. Homemade pasta, cooked in well-salted water until just shy of al dente, is the conductor, bringing the starch and tomato sauce together in perfect harmony. The sauce is like a flowing variety of instruments. The Food Network celebrity finishes the dish with basil, parmesan cheese, virgin olive oil, and butter at his Fontainebleau Miami Beach restaurant.
2. Lasagna at Nightshade
Nightshade, which was opened by Top Chef season 14 winner Mei Lin in late 2018, is still one of the most competitively sought-after reservations in the city of Los Angeles. While Lin’s Nantucket Bay scallops in spicy coconut vinaigrette are sure to please even the most jaded of guests, the Mapo tofu lasagna is a clear winner in the popularity stakes. Egg noodle slices are stacked with an unrivaled Sichuan pepper pork ragu, tofu cream strands, and plenty of grated parmesan. It’s without a doubt one of the most innovative uses of pasta in a variety of contexts.
3. Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe at Felix
Evan Funke, the chef at Felix, is a pasta master. He is well-versed in the various forms of pasta and how various sauces adhere to them, allowing him to combine seemingly disparate elements into a unified whole. Since launching, this Italian eatery, which categorizes its pasta by region of origin within Italy, has been a hotspot for Angelenos. Although all of the pasta dishes seem delicious, the tonnarelli cacao e pepe seems to be the crowd favorite. You’ll wonder what sort of sorcery happened to the fresh, squared spaghetti that’s combined with simply black pepper and Pecorino Romano, yet turns up delicate and light with such delicacy and depth.
4. Caramelle at Juniper
This beautiful pasta is a tribute to the abundance of summer, made in the form of candy and loaded with the concentrated sweetness of sun gold tomatoes. Those small sun-ripened fruit rounds are used in every part of the system. In addition to the caramel pasta (a form originally from the Lombardy area of Northern Italy) and smoked ricotta (which contributes both cream and Texas-style smoke), the sauce is dotted with sun golds. Chef de cuisine Zach Riddle of Juniper uses Tex-Mex spices like serrano chiles, lime zest, and oregano to give the Italian dish a more Texan feel. These spices, he adds, “are much-beloved, familiar, and nostalgic to the people of Austin.”
5. Sheep’s Milk Agnolotti at Lilia
When it comes to preparing pasta, Chef Missy Robbins has some of the most dexterous hands in the country. The Obamas, among her many devoted followers, were among those who were devastated by her 2013 departure from A Voce. However, she eventually opened a restaurant across the East River in North Brooklyn called Lilia, where her now-famous sheep’s milk agnolotti became a draw for foodies. Soft dough is encased in a bright yellow shell of ricotta and feta cheese made from sheep’s milk. Sun-dried tomatoes provide a fresh counterpoint to the richness of the butter, honey, and saffron threads used in rolling each one. Robbins’ other pasta is just as good and deserving of a carbohydrate extravaganza as that meal is.
6. Pappardelle al Ragu d’Anatra at Ristorante Bartolotta
Pappardelle al Ragu d’Anatra is just one example of the authentic pasta dishes that Ristorante Bartolotta has been serving up since 1993. With its broad ribbons that seem to absorb slow-braised duck ragu and Grana Padano, this dish is a perfect representation of the restaurant’s cozy atmosphere. The restaurant, located in a former brewery in the heart of Wauwatosa, is welcoming and unpretentious.
7. Mandilli al Vero Pesto Genovese at Solo Italiano
The greatest pesto in the United States can be found in Maine, so go there if you’re interested. Paolo Laboa, the executive chef of Solo Italiano and a native of Genoa, is a pesto world champion. That’s not hyperbole; in 2008, he took first place in a competition of one hundred cooks in the historic district of Genova for his mandible di seta (handkerchief pasta). His Portland eatery features it. The sauce is made from his family’s secret recipe and features Genovese basil, imported pine nuts, Ligurian olive oil, and a combination of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Fiore Sardo, a salty and slightly smoky Sardinian sheep’s milk cheese, served with delicate, paper-thin sheets of handkerchief pasta.
8. Chili Spaghetti at Skyline Chili
Greek-born Nicholas Lambrinides founded Skyline Chili in Cincinnati in 1949, using a proprietary combination of Mediterranean spices to enhance traditional American chili. A “3-way,” or standard, chili dish, consists of chili, spaghetti, and cheese. Customers can build up by adding additional toppings, such as beans or onions, or both.
9. Fusilli at Marea
It’s not out of the question that Marea’s famed fusilli with red wine-braised octopus and bone marrow has inspired love ballads. This meal is an homage to two American classics: surf and turf and Italian-American Sunday gravy. In order to make the sauce for this Spanish baby octopus, Sangiovese wine, San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, and basil are simmered together. When an order comes in, the octopus and handmade fusilli are warmed with seasoned, sautéed bone marrow, which thickens the whole thing and helps the sauce cling to the octopus and fusilli. The dish’s al dente texture is enhanced by the crunch of toasted breadcrumbs.
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