Culinary trends come and go, but pasta will never go out of style. That’s because there is something eternally satisfying and satiating about a well-executed plate of al dente tortellini, fettuccini, or fusilli. Here are eight top restaurants for pasta and the highlights you should indulge in.
Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles, California
More than a dozen pastas vie for your affections at this award winner from Mario Batali, Nancy Silverton, and Joe Bastianich. The star of the lot is bucatini all’amatriciana laced with a torrent of red pepper flakes to offset the richness of the guanciale that powers the sauce (pictured). Flat discs of corzetti stampati are lavished with eggplant, olives, and ricotta, while rich oxtail ragu clings to ribbons of tagliatelle. Cacio e pepe is served with linguini-like bavette, which is perfect for twirling on your fork into a bird’s nest of simple satisfaction. Make a reservation at Osteria Mozza.
Spiaggia, Chicago, Illinois
Boasting a Michelin star, Tony Mantuano’s flagship continues to reign as one of the country’s finest Italian restaurants. Wrapped up like a present, ravioletto conceal rabbit, egg, and robiola due latti (a buttery soft ripened mixed milk cheese with a deep savoriness and a slightly sweet finish), along with a dot of date puree on the side (pictured). Tender gnocchi in the shape of tiny torpedoes are coated with a sumptuous sauce boosted by black truffles. Perhaps the most charming of all are the petite cavetelli recalling a wintry forest. A snowfall of Parmesan dusts small sprigs of thyme and umbrella-like mushrooms scattered atop the pasta. Make a reservation at Spiaggia.
Lupo Verde, Washington, D.C.
The life of this D.C. Italian restaurant can be divided into two eras: BMV (Before Matteo Venini and WMV (With Matteo Venini). His appointment as executive chef in late 2016 was a bolstering boon, which resulted in massive menu overhaul. New standouts include butternut squash and amaretto cookies stuffed cappellacci lounging in brown butter sauce with crispy sage (pictured). Belly warming rabbit ragu punctuated with roasted baby carrots and plenty of thyme is nestled atop a tangle of fettuccine. Not to be forgotten is Venini’s signature: potato gnocchi graced with herbaceous muffato blue cheese sauce, roasted pears, and candied walnuts. Make a reservation at Lupo Verde.
Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, Colorado
For over a decade, chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson has been entrancing guests with his Northern Italian fare. Pumpkin pocketing agnolotti are finished with cracked hazelnuts and swoon-worthy brown butter sauce (pictured). The folds of crespelle – crepes-style manicotti – hide pistachios, artichokes, and black truffles. With inspiration sourced from Slovenia, ravioli-like žlikrofi are beyond indulgent, cradling foie gras and black truffles. Make a reservation at Frasca Food and Wine.
Vetri, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Marc Vetri’s flagship is closing in on its 30th anniversary but shows no sign of slowing down. Pastas are seemingly simple, yet yield sensational flavors that will linger long after the meal is done. Tortellini parcels camouflaging toasted almonds and a sweet ricotta are pampered with a truffle butter sauce (pictured), while plump gnocchi – a fetching green thanks to the addition of spinach – are simply sauced with brown butter. Or go a little farther afield and try lumache – which take their name from the Italian word for snails because of their shell shape – with duck ragu or fettuccine with braised monkfish. Make a reservation at Vetri.
Ristorante Morini, New York, New York
Pastas are an unparalleled pleasure here. Basil-ricotta tortelloni come pomodoro style with plenty of parmesan (pictured). Pork shoulder ragu and pecorino fonduta are ladled across corkscrews of fusilli. And jet-black tortelli getting a luxe lift from their lobster lavished interiors sit in a tide pool of crustacean brodetto punctuated by curlicues of cuttlefish. Make a reservation at Ristrorante Morini.