Last update: August 23, 2016
Just a quick note that some of these pastas are seasonal and arent on the menu the entire year, but worth mentioning anyway
Trenette Al Pesto Trapanese at Mercato.
From the port of Genoa sailors brought Trenette al Pesto to Trapani, Sicily where the dish was perfected even further with the addition of almonds. Homemade chewy dried Trenette cooked to al dente perfection, with almonds, garlic, tomato and basil. Its fresh, simple, and quite tasty. I havent seen this dish anywhere else, and at $12, I feel like I negotiated something at the shuk with a simple stare
Fusilli with Octopus and Bone Marrow at Marea
One of two NYC classics on the list, and perhaps the most celebrated pasta in
NYC America. Articles, blog posts, children books (Goodnight Fusilli with Octopus!) have been written about this clasic. The twisted homemade Fusilli is tossed with the most addictive fresh red sauce you will ever taste, with Sangiovese braised octopus, and bone marrow being the culprits. A no brainer on this list
Strozzapreti Con Aragosta at Lincoln (top)
One of the best pastas I ever had is on, off, on in the seasonal Lincoln menu. Calling it simply Strozzapreti with lobster should be punishable by Italian law. The beautiful Strozzapreti, which most likely were invented when someone envisioned a pasta shape while witnessing a priest being strangled to death (Strozzapreti means priest chokers) are made with lobster coral hence giving them the orange look. They are mixed with not only sweet chunks of lobster but also lobster and scallop sausages (my favorite part) which is like eating the most glorious chicken skin you can imagine. The sauce is zesty, light, and the perfect compliment to this delicate dish. A classic in the making. Not always on the menu, and preparation may differ based on season.
Black Spaghetti at Babbo
A menu staple at a NYC staple. How can one go wrong. I’ve seen Babbo post a picture of this dish on Twitter one day, and the rest as they say, is history. Squid ink Spaghetti, Rock Shrimp, Spicy Salami Calabrese and Green Chilies. Its another good example of a fairly dry pasta, that is packed with wonderful flavor and texture. The Spaghetti has that wonderful sweet inky richness, with that crunchy salami, shrimp, and occasional garlic, like the gift that keeps on giving. This is one of those dishes that makes you Google recipes when you get home. Until your mind get intercepted by more Kardashian news. Apparently Kim already lost 80% of her baby fat.
Malfadini at Lilia
Choosing a favorite pasta at Lilia is like choosing your favorite current presidential candidate. But for opposite reasons. The ‘imperfect’ conveyor belt-like Malfadini is essentially Cacio e Pepe on crack. Take your average Cacio e Pepe, change the pasta to something with more texture, add sharper cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano, and pink peppercorns, and you essentially got Cacio e Perfect
Agnolotti del Plin at Pasquale Jones
I dont care if this wintery delicatessen is not on the menu as of this writing. You should be eating pastas here regardless. They do have a lovely sounding Tajarin with summer truffles which just adds to the impression that Tim Caspare just knows how to handle those Piedmontese classics. This is the only del Plin in NYC that stays true to its origin, and would make any Piedmont nonna blush. Buttery, pillowy, explosive little dumplings, packed with Guinea hen, sage and Pancetta. PANCETTA!
Uni Mushroom Ramen at Jun-men Ramen
Calling this one Ramen is like calling Maialino’s Cacio e Pepe, Ramen. Its essentially a nicely crafted, rich, and gorgeous looking pasta. Mushrooms, salty Pancetta, Porcini butter, truffle oil, noodles, and Uni that gets better and better in quality. I keep returning to Jun-men for this.
Pasta with Crab at Ulivo
If you are scoring at home, or if you are alone (stupid old Baseball joke) we have more than 10 pastas this time. Which is why I had to remove the “10” from the title. And while you are alone, you should try this messy beauty by Mercato’s baby sister, otherwise you will find yourself alone in a hurry. The sauce featuring spicy slow braised stone crab is worth the price alone. Add an entire meaty stone crab to play with, and its party time. No one that I know, makes this.
Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Basil at Scarpetta
Simple isnt it? Well, why dont you try it, and invite me for a tasting. Recipes are all over the internet. Chances are unless you are Scott Conant reading this (sup man) you will not succeed in matching the flavors of this classic. Its fresh, bright, and utilizes the highest quality raw material. Scarpetta’s signature dish and the most celebrated Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce and Basil this side of wherever they make the best Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Basil. Pure awesomeness on every bite. The smell alone will cause shaky hands, and blurry pictures. See?
Clams Grand Lisboa at Nishi
While polishing up on their policies, and any identity issues, one thing remains constant at Nishi. Executive chef, Joshua Pinsky dishing out some of the most unique pastas in NYC. The clams are dressed with Oregano based sauce, sitting on top fried Chow Mein noodles and cabbage. Calling this Cho Mein almost sounds like an insult to this dish. Its cooked with apple sauce which gives it this sweet deliciousness you wont find anywhere. This is David Chang’s favorite dish here and I can see why
Agnolotti at All’onda
As of this latest update, not on the menu, but All’onda continues to make killa pastas. This is a tricky one since its not even the most popular pasta at All’onda (that honor goes to the Bucatini or Garganelli), nor the second or third most popular actually. But in this town, its more unique and interesting to me than the others. Not your average Agnolotti, nor “Plin”. They are Mortadella filled with pistachios, and a crazy tasting homemade XO sauce made with dried shrimp, scallops and soppressata. XO is a sauce that Cognac laden Hong Kong chefs invented in the 80’s, except they forgot to add the key ingredient, Cognac. This version of the sauce adds a funky aroma, and plenty of depth to otherwise just fine Agnolotti
Open the drawer in the kitchen where you keep the pens, ribbons and paper clips (just in case that paper clip emergency comes), take a pen and write the ingredients for Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe… Tonnarelli, Cacio, Pepe! The Romans like to keep it simple (Carbonara, Gricia). And when I was in Rome, in a way I was disappointed that I wasnt exactly blown away by all the wonderful Carbonaras and Cacio e Pepes because Maialino quite frankly spoiled it for me. If you’ve never had this dish before perhaps because “pasta with cheese and pepper” doesnt sound very enticing, now is a good time to have it.
Stracci at Osteria Morini
From the one who knocks I bring to you the one dish that you will not find in Emilia Romagna out of that splendid ER inspired menu. Wonderfully chewy wide ribbon pasta inherits the juices of the succulent braised mushrooms. I would be happy with just the mushrooms. It was love at first Stracci at one of my favorite Italians in town
Pasta with White Truffles At ??
Ok for this one you need to do a little bi of homework. Its white truffle season at the (original) time of this writing and you can enjoy your Tagliatelle, risotto, scrambled eggs, pizza, car keys or anything else you desire with White Truffles from Alba, Tuscany or Umbria. I know Lincoln, Maialino, Marta have it currently and last year The NoMad (below) offered it at cost. Its a feast for all senses, especially the nose. Me? I’m not touching the stuff this season in this town, as I’m heading to the source, Alba white Truffle festival. Buon Appetito! Ciao, Ziggy