HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Do you create unique foods? Tell us about it

What/Where -- Your favorite pasta dish?

owen_meany Nov 4, 2005 08:15 AM

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!!!


  1. j
    Jane Nov 4, 2005 08:26 AM

    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
      Joanie Nov 4, 2005 09:22 AM

      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
        chefkaska Jun 2, 2010 08:48 PM

        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
          Prav Jun 2, 2010 09:04 PM

          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
            chefkaska Jun 2, 2010 09:34 PM

            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
              lipoff Jun 3, 2010 12:19 AM

              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
                MC Slim JB Jun 3, 2010 07:48 AM

                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
              9lives Jun 3, 2010 07:13 AM

              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
              steinpilz Jun 6, 2010 11:20 AM

              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
                bear Jun 6, 2010 04:14 PM

                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. m
            MC Slim JB Nov 4, 2005 08:53 AM

            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
              Taralli Nov 4, 2005 09:00 AM

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

              1. re: Taralli
                HwyStar Nov 4, 2005 09:56 AM

                another one for Grotto's gnocchi & short rib

              2. re: MC Slim JB
                MB Nov 4, 2005 10:55 AM

                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
                  MC Slim JB Nov 4, 2005 11:22 AM

                  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
                    Limster Nov 4, 2005 08:25 PM

                    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
                      MC Slim JB Nov 4, 2005 09:24 PM

                      That's the one, thank you!

                2. h
                  hiddenboston Nov 4, 2005 08:55 AM

                  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. s
                    stan Nov 4, 2005 09:08 AM

                    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
                      MC Slim JB Nov 4, 2005 11:24 AM

                      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. l
                      lorarose Nov 4, 2005 10:46 AM

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

                      1. m
                        MB Nov 4, 2005 10:58 AM

                        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
                          yumyum Nov 4, 2005 12:24 PM

                          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
                            Paula(bear) Nov 8, 2005 04:17 AM

                            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. m
                          MC Slim JB Nov 4, 2005 11:32 AM

                          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. j
                            johnnymac Nov 4, 2005 01:10 PM

                            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 Nov 4, 2005 01:25 PM

                              now you will get them all started

                              1. re: johnnymac
                                MC Slim JB Nov 4, 2005 02:11 PM

                                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
                                  chris Nov 4, 2005 08:05 PM

                                  Short rib gnochi at grotto

                                2. l
                                  Limster Nov 4, 2005 08:26 PM

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

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Limster
                                    Limster Nov 4, 2005 08:27 PM

                                    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. b
                                    BK Nov 5, 2005 07:02 AM

                                    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
                                      Joanie Nov 7, 2005 06:14 AM

                                      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
                                        BK Nov 8, 2005 05:18 PM

                                        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
                                        hto44 Jun 3, 2010 05:24 AM

                                        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. r
                                        rxrfrx Nov 5, 2005 01:30 PM

                                        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
                                          9lives Nov 5, 2005 06:18 PM

                                          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
                                            MC Slim JB Nov 6, 2005 09:50 AM

                                            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.

                                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                                              rxrfrx Nov 7, 2005 08:52 AM

                                              Good point.

                                          2. e
                                            eating out Nov 7, 2005 10:30 AM

                                            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. p
                                              pollystyrene Jun 3, 2010 01:58 AM

                                              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. d
                                                Duster17 Jun 3, 2010 08:35 AM

                                                The ravioli with sweet pea cream at il Casale.

                                                il Casale
                                                50 Leonard Street, Belmont, MA 02478

                                                1. CocoDan Jun 3, 2010 08:55 AM

                                                  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. f
                                                    food_lubber Jun 3, 2010 09:16 AM

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

                                                    Lucca Restaurant
                                                    226 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113

                                                    1. yumyum Jun 4, 2010 08:26 AM

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

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: yumyum
                                                        heypielady Jun 4, 2010 08:40 AM

                                                        That literally just made me drool.

                                                        1. re: yumyum
                                                          makonna Jun 4, 2010 05:01 PM

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

                                                        2. j
                                                          jjbourgeois Jun 4, 2010 08:39 AM

                                                          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
                                                            teezeetoo Jun 4, 2010 07:10 PM

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

                                                            69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                                          2. p
                                                            phatchris Jun 5, 2010 06:49 AM

                                                            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. b
                                                              Blumie Jun 6, 2010 10:54 AM

                                                              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
                                                                MC Slim JB Jun 6, 2010 12:46 PM

                                                                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
                                                                  Blumie Jun 6, 2010 06:02 PM

                                                                  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
                                                                    MC Slim JB Jun 7, 2010 09:38 AM

                                                                    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
                                                                    phatchris Jun 8, 2010 03:25 PM

                                                                    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. j
                                                                  jamieeats Jun 6, 2010 06:15 PM

                                                                  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. yumyum Jun 7, 2010 10:44 AM

                                                                    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
                                                                      pollystyrene Jun 7, 2010 11:56 PM

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

                                                                    2. pocketgarden Jun 8, 2010 10:53 AM

                                                                      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

                                                                      Show Hidden Posts