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What/Where -- Your favorite pasta dish?

  • o

I'm having some vague cravings for really, really good pasta. In my mind I'm thinking a thick pasta with a good, rich (but probably not creamy) sauce -- I'm not a huge meat eater but I'm not sure I'm going to get a hearty sauce with just veggies alone (point me in a different direction, though, if I'm wrong!)

What's your favorite restaurant pasta dish?

Help me refine my cravings!!!


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  1. The rosette pasta at Limoncello.

    ROSETTE AL MONTASIO ED OLIO Di TARTUFO - Rosette Pasta with Montasio Cheese and White Truffle Oil.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Jane

      I had this and it's quite good. But would definitely pick Via Matta's pasta with various mushrooms in this earthy sauce. Very good. Not sure if it's still on the menu tho, and while these sound good, the choice last month was better I think. At least they have a bunch under $20.

      Spaghetti aglio e olio con pomodoro  $16
      Orrechiette with fennel sausage, rabe and pecorino $19
      Tagliatelle alla bolognese  $19
      Linguine Puttanesca with crispy softshell crab  $21
      Asparagus Mezzalune with chanterelles and ricotta salata $20
      Ravioli Nudi: spinach and ricotta with brown butter, pancetta and sage $19

      1. re: Jane

        I just had this signature dish at Limoncello in Boston last week. It was probably the most innovative and delicious pasta I've had in a long time. It also has prociutto intertwined with the Montasio Cheese throughout the pasta with an aurora sauce topped off with the Truffle sauce. If someone has the recipe I'd love to have it or at least the recipe and method to make the delicate pasta.

        1. re: chefkaska

          That sounds amazing. Very rich, no?

          People will remind you that this thread is old, but I don't care, because your description of this dish has now got me intrigued.

          Is their pasta made in-house?

          1. re: Prav

            It was amazing....the pasta itself was actually very light. The pasta is similar to
            Pappardelle texture, only it's about 2 inches wide and probably 15 inches long.
            The pasta is made at the restaurant. When it is plated there are 4 of the 15" x 2 inch pasta noodles twirled to look like a rosette and somehow the the prosciutto and montacio cheese mixture is woven into the noodles with an incredible aurora sauce.

            It's amazing.....it really isn't heavy. That's probably due to lightness of the pasta.
            I'm going to try and replicate it. It's their signature dish and I' m pretty sure they're
            not sharing that recipe.

            1. re: chefkaska

              I love it when really old threads get resurrected like this and we get to re-read posts by Limster!

              I've been impressed with pastas at both Basta Pasta in Cambridge and Carlo's Cucina Italiana in Allston, as well as some wonderful pastas at Sportello recently.

              I know this is slightly off topic, but some of the best pasta I've had this year has been from Capone Foods in Cambridge and Somerville and cooked at home. I recently cooked their black pepper gnocchi and dressed it with a simple tomato basil sauce (Classico, from a jar!), to which I added dried red peppers, butter, olive oil, salt, pepper and some starchy water from the pasta. In less than ten minutes I had some seriously good gnocchi.

              Basta Pasta
              319 Western Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

              348 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02110

              1. re: lipoff

                Yes, I love these old posts, too: mem-oh-reeees!

                Nowadays I'd have to add the pastas that Chuck Draghi is doing at Erbaluce: consistently fabulous. I encourage people to get at least a half-order at every dinner there.


                69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

            2. re: Prav

              Ms 9 and i go to lunch at Limoncello pretty regularly and always order the rosette pasta; great dish and lunch is really a bargain.

              Haven't had it lately but Bina did a great carbonara.

              Grotto's gnocchi and short ribs..still a favorite after 5 years.

            3. re: chefkaska

              Here's what might be a similar recipe (I haven't had the Limoncello dish) that I saw after reading this thread:


              1. re: steinpilz

                A somewhat similar dish of Marcella Hazan's has been discussed on the Homecooking Board a few times. I haven't managed to get around to trying it yet, but it sounds lovely.



          2. Any kitchen that Marissa Iocco runs -- Bricco, Umbria, Mare -- turns out amazing pastas, but they're pricey.

            Trattoria Toscana does a beautiful number with a pesto-like sauce whose name escapes me but whose flavor I can recall vividly right now.

            Zafferano does a gorgeous, small-bore, very simply done (barely-cooked fresh tomatoes, basil, oil) fresh gnocchi.

            But my nod for pasta of the year so far goes to the Grotto for its short-rib gnocchi with Gorgonzola and mushrooms: amazingly rich, eye-rolling, decadent goodness. How anyone eats more than a half-order is beyond me, though I've tried.

            6 Replies
            1. re: MC Slim JB

              Absolutely concur on Grotto's gnocchi & short ribs. Unbelievably rich.

              1. re: Taralli

                another one for Grotto's gnocchi & short rib

              2. re: MC Slim JB

                Sorry MC, especially since I regularly concur with the vast majority of your rec's, but the food I had at Umbria over the summer was hands-down the absolute most disappointing dining experience I've had in YEARS. A waste of money for flavorless schwag. No thanks. How does G-Dubya say it? Fool me once...

                I tried a couple of dishes at Trattoria Toscana in the past month, though not the dish you mention. Though good, a cute little place and a great value, I wouldn't go there for a pasta fix. The two pastas I tried were a bit boring.

                1. re: MB

                  On my last visit to Umbria, I had an amazing cinghiale ragu on wide, superfresh spinach noodles that I just loved. But I haven't been back in a while. That ugly, cramped afterthought of a space makes its high prices a bit tough to swallow.

                  1. re: MB

                    The pasta itself at Trattoria Toscana is somewhat ordinary, but the sauces are simple, pure and with plenty of soul. It sounds like the the pasta described in question is the penne di modo mio (aka "in my style".

                    1. re: Limster

                      That's the one, thank you!

                2. h

                  Two of my favorite pasta dishes are:

                  1) The lasagna at Abbondanza in Everett

                  2) The homemade cannolini (rolled pasta with ground sirloin, ham, cheese in bechamel sauce) at Al Dente in the North End

                  There's such a huge difference between fresh pasta and the kind out of the box. The fresh pasta at places like Monica's and Cibo in the North End, as well as Al Dente, are well worth the extra couple of bucks over places that don't do fresh pasta (like the chains).

                  1. i am not sure if Taranta offers it anymore but i wish that they would return it to their menu!
                    Speghetti with sea urchin and bottarga.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: stan

                      The sea urchin/bottarga spaghetti was not on the menu on my two visits over the past six months, bummer. But the recipe is available on their website!

                    2. Daily Catch--calamari and linguini (red), right out of the pan.

                      1. I think you cannot go wrong with the pasta offerings at La Morra and Via Matta.

                        Additionally, for a cheap eats quick fix, the Il Panino Express on Mass Ave in Cambridge does a fabulous, bright-tomato-y flavored lasagne for lunch on Thursdays. IIRC it is not a meat sauce.

                        And for quick fixes - it's been a while, but believe it or not, Papparazi (sp?) at the Cambridgeside Galleria does a respectable bolognese.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: MB

                          Thank you. I *always* recommend the bolognese at Paparazzi and friends look at me like I've got two heads. It's good, maybe even great!

                          1. re: yumyum

                            Lurker here...

                            When I ate meat, this was probably my fave bolognese EVER. I didn't mind their food in general, even though it was a chain, but this was amazing... really rich and warming, sure it had veal in it too (do they always?).

                        2. There's another one that I got at Rialto once: a giant single raviolo with a barely-poached, still gooey egg yolk inside, in brown butter sauce, with white truffles on top. That is an amazing piece of cheffery. It's a doozey, but I haven't seen it for some time. (I had it for the first time at San Domenico in NYC.)

                          1. ok i know it's a chain, but i just got back from the Cheesecake Factory in Cambridge and had a great serving of the Spicy Chicken Chipotle Pasta - Honey Glazed Chicken, Asparagus, Red and Yellow Peppers, Peas, Garlic and Onions in a Spicy Chipotle Parmesan Cream Sauce.

                            i was very happy with it.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: johnnymac
                              anon for this

                              now you will get them all started

                              1. re: johnnymac

                                Well, chain-restaurant discussions get moved to other boards. I guess my question is: that's your *favorite* pasta dish? Or just the best one you had today?

                                1. re: johnnymac

                                  Short rib gnochi at grotto

                                2. I'll add the squid ink pasta aglio olio at The Daily Catch in the North End.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Limster

                                    Oh, and the Crespelle Bolognese at Carmen. Perhaps not really pasta in some minds, but while we're on the topic of rich meaty sauces...

                                  2. I'll second (third? tenth?) the Grotto short-rib gnocchi rec. More traditional favorites:

                                    Vinny's Pork & Vinegar Peppers with Home-made pasta
                                    Pomodoro's Carbonara & their Chicken Marsala
                                    Maurizio's Bolognese
                                    Antico Forno's Brick Oven Baked Gnocchi

                                    This is making me hungry.


                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: BK

                                      Maybe I hit Pomodoro on an off nite or the Brookline location isn't as good, but my carbonara there was the pastiest pasta dish I ever remember having. Altho the pancetta in it was good.

                                      1. re: Joanie

                                        Can't speak for the Brookline carbonara, but the Hanover Street carbonara is excellent. I must admit that all the ranting about Siobahn's attitude is hard for me to defend. I've gotten both very warm, hospitable, lovely treatment from her, including appetizers on the house, and have alternately been so unhappy with the treatment there that I posted a very lengthy description of my lousy night in Brookline about a year ago. But I still go back for the fried squid, the amazing marinara, the carbonara and the marsala.


                                      2. re: BK

                                        Have not had the Carbonaro at Pomodoro's but I love the Bolognese.

                                        I know the OP talked about thick pasta but the frutti di' mare at Delfino's is amazing. You can get it with your choice of sauce but I prefer the fra diablo or garlic&oil.

                                        319 Hanover Street, Boston, MA 02113

                                        Delfino Restaurant
                                        754 South St, Roslindale, MA 02131

                                      3. It's interesting that most of the responses on this thread are from the hardcore restaurant-goers - the regulars on this board who eat out more than a couple dinners a week, it seems. Personally, I avoid ever ordering pasta when I'm eating out, as it seems like a big waste of money. Other items with similarly low ingredient costs, like pizza, make more sense since they're hard to make correctly using one's own kitchen.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: rxrfrx

                                          I'm not sure I see the point that you're trying to make. Many restaurant dishes are easy to make at home.

                                          That said, I would hardly consider Grotto's gnocchi with shortribs easy to prepare "in my own kitchen."

                                          1. re: rxrfrx

                                            I think I see your point: why get pasta at some red sauce palace when you can do something comparable at home? I agree: it's one reason why I vehemently disrespect most of the North End's restaurants, and think most casual-dining chains are beneath contempt. I don't see extraordinary craft or ingredients in their fare. They're targeting a diner that puts a premium on the doggie-bag factor.

                                            My appetite and desire not to weight 300 pounds is such that I can't order a lot of pasta when I go out. Even at Italian places, I at most share one or get a half-order as a mid-course.

                                            Regardless, most of fhe dishes that I cite as extraordinary would be very difficult for me to recreate at home, where I have no pasta machine or convenient retail source of fresh pasta and exotic ingredients like white truffles, wild boar, and bottarga. I don't even have a crock pot to simply the slow-cooking of short ribs. And I doubt I'll ever have the kitchen chops to do that giant raviolo with the egg yolk inside.

                                            So you're right, most restaurant pasta isn't worth the carbs or cost. But there are a handful of don't-try-this-at-home pasta dishes that I still remember fondly months or years later, which I suspect is what the OP was looking for.

                                          2. Oh how I miss this dish:

                                            The Lobster Linguini (linguini a l'aragosta?) at Trattoria Il Panino at the corner of Paramenter and Hanover- across the street from the Express. This is my most favorite dish in Boston, and now being in DC, I miss it terribly.

                                            In fact, I miss all the pasta dishes at Trattoria Il Panino, including the amazing Salmon Ravioli, Lobster and Mushroom Raviolis as well. Yummmmmmmmmm. Eat an extra helping for me, please :)

                                            1. The spinach ravioli with white truffle sauce at Da Vinci (have not been a fan of the other pastas there, though).
                                              The wild mushroom ravioli at Mamma Maria.

                                              1. The ravioli with sweet pea cream at il Casale.

                                                il Casale
                                                50 Leonard Street, Belmont, MA 02478

                                                1. Singing my old song, I still love the lobster ravioli w/ light shrimp cream sauce at "villa Francesca". If I'm going to clog my arteries this is how I'm going to do it. What a way to go.

                                                  1. Lucca in the North End: baked orrichette with brocoli rabe and sausage...to die for!

                                                    Lucca Restaurant
                                                    226 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113

                                                    1. Dante's Chitara spaghetti alla Carbonara, guanciale, organic egg, parmiggiano reggiano.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: yumyum

                                                        That literally just made me drool.

                                                        1. re: yumyum

                                                          I was going to say any of Dante's homemade pastas. I think they are my favorite part of their menu.

                                                        2. Osteria La Cevita in Falmouth. Love all their pasta, but the spaghetti carbonara does it for me. One of the few pasta dishes where I do not leave left overs.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: jjbourgeois

                                                            the ignudi at Il Casale, any pasta at Erbaluce, and the fusilli at basta pasta - gems all.

                                                            69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                                          2. Rigatoni with wild boar at Lucca.
                                                            Raviloi di Ouvo and sweet corn raviolini at Prezza.
                                                            Bolognese at Marco.

                                                            24 Fleet St., Boston, MA 02113

                                                            Lucca Restaurant
                                                            226 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113

                                                            1. This thread has been around for five years, yet you all missed the right answer: the lobster spaghettini at Neptune Oyster.

                                                              Thank you all for playing. We have some nice parting gifts for you.

                                                              Neptune Oyster
                                                              63 Salem St Ste 1, Boston, MA 02113

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: Blumie

                                                                I like that dish, but it's far from my favorite at Neptune. It's too big for a sensible eater, for one thing, and the fra diavolo approach kind of clobbers the lobster flavor, in my book. Neptune's lobster stroganoff is a much better pasta showcase for lobster, I think.


                                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                  Yes, it's huge -- big enough for two to share comfortably. But for those of us who like a lot of spice, I think the contrast of the sweet lobster and the spicy red pepper is pretty awesome! I imagine that for more sensitive palates (sorry, this is not meant to be some sort of macho showboating, just an objective observation), I imagine that the taste of the lobster could be overwhelmed by the pepper.

                                                                  I haven't tried their lobster stroganoff, which sounds heavy and creamy and more likely to overwhelm the lobster than the spaghettini. Convince me otherwise!

                                                                  1. re: Blumie

                                                                    Neptune just reached out to me, says their current version of lobster spaghetttini has no hot pepper in it, which surprised me, as I remember my last bowl of it as having some heat. It's possible my last order of this dish preceded Serpa's tenure in the kitchen, which would mean I have not tried the current chili-free version of the dish.

                                                                    In any event, while you could argue that a dairy/lobster combination might be too rich for you, I think the flavors have a complementary / simpatico quality that is missing from the hot-chili / tomato / lobster combination. Obviously just a personal preference, but I think dairy is less likely to overwhelm the delicacy and sweetness of lobster vs. the acidity of tomatoes and capsicum heat.


                                                                  2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                    I really liked the stroganoff, but would definitely share it next time round, extremely rich with the creme fraiche and mushrooms. The last few times I've had the spaghettini there wasn't any chili that I could detect.

                                                                2. Joseph's Trattoria in Ward Hill is amazing, they have the best ravioli and tortellini among other things. If you can make it up there,definitely try it!


                                                                  1. I can tell you what NOT to get. Surprisingly poor spaghetti pomodoro at Scampo last week. Their vongole is delicious, the spag with cracklings and red pepper is delightful. But this bowl of pasta was the very definition of insipid.

                                                                    215 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: yumyum

                                                                      Couldn't agree more, yumyum. It's yuckyuck! Chef Boyardee!

                                                                    2. i've had some really tasty pastas at pizzeria posto. a braised rabbit tagliatelle, and crab tortellini in a fresh pea sauce. both were outstanding. I usually feel suckered for paying 3x the cost for something i could make better at home when it comes to restuarant pasta, but so far not at posto! Also tried a few bites of the bucatini with guanciale which my DC happily devoured. you really can't go wrong there