Italy’s 5 Best Pasta Dishes (And Where To Get Them)
This is surely Rome’s, if not Italy’s, finest pasta dish: the rich, creamy, alchemical deliciousness of eggs, pecorino cheese, black pepper and guanciale mixed with perfectly toothsome spaghetti or rigatoni. It’s beautiful in the simplicity of its ingredients, and yet elegant in the complexity of its creation. A good Roman carbonara is a fine thing indeed. Try it at Da Cesare al Casaletto in Rome.
2. Alle Vongole
Is there any dish so evocative of a balmy summer evening as spaghetti alle vongole, the simple mix of pasta with fresh clams, garlic, parsley and white wine? This is everything that is great about an Italian coastal interlude: the briny sweetness of the clams and their juices, the zip of wine, the freshness of parsley. Perfection. Vongole is from Campania, in Italy’s south – try it at Pizzeria e Trattoria Vigliena in Naples.
3. Alla Bolognese
Ragu alla Bolognese is Italy’s most internationally popular and yet criminally misunderstood dish. Don’t order this outside of the Emilia-Romagna region. Don’t expect a bulky, tomato-rich sauce. And don’t expect it to be served with spaghetti. In its home town of Bologna, ragu is served with tagliatelle, with far more pasta than meat, and it’s braised in white wine and with a few tomatoes. It’s also delicious, especially at Trattoria Annamaria in Bologna.
4. Alla Genovese
Here’s another sauce that’s beautiful in its simplicity. You’ll find different styles of pesto across Italy, but the most famous is alla Genovese, the unctuous, umami-rich sauce from Genoa. Basil is the key ingredient, though there’s also pinenuts, garlic, parmigiano-reggiano and olive oil. The pesto is blended and stirred through fat little curls of trofie pasta, or thin trenette. Eat it at Trattoria Cavour 21 in Genoa.
5. Al Tartufo Bianco
Though plenty of Italy’s best dishes are modest and inexpensive, this one is neither. Tagliolini al tartufo bianco is long, flat egg pasta served with a butter and cheese sauce, topped with freshly shaved white truffle. It’s a Piedmontese dish that is seriously decadent and it doesn’t come cheap – white truffles from Alba can cost anywhere up to $10,000 a kilo. Savour it at Ristorante Larossa in Alba.