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Coppa
Coppa
Gary R Wise

10 Great Pasta Dishes to Eat Right Now

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Coppa
| Gary R Wise

Will Walsh is a food writer and cooking enthusiast who brought his passion for regional Italian cooking to Houston diners as part of the Ghetto Dinner series with Revival Market chef de cuisine Adam Dorris. Unlike most maps on this site, today's is definitely ranked; the top slot is Walsh's pick for Houston's best pasta dish. Take it away, Will.

We talk frequently, and rush hurriedly to try, the new "black" in this little food scene of ours. But what about the food items that we take for granted? The things that are so fantastically part of our culinary DNA that we forget to tweet their awesomeness or Instagram them with a cute dog just to brag that we have ingested it first? That food for me is pasta. Admittedly I am a bit, shall we say, picky about Italian food and was in full eye-roll mode about the plausibility of even being able to fill these spots, but I wanted to try anyway. So I set out with some chefs and fellow Italia-philes for a 10,000 calorie romp through the Houston pasta scene, initially hoping to galvanize our favorite haunts, but dish after dish finding new amazing things to chew on. Needless to say, I may be eating sushi for the next couple of weeks, but the face stuffing has proved its worth.

--Will Walsh

· Will Walsh [Twitter]
· All Eater Houston Maps [-EHOU-]

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Coppa Ristorante Italiano

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Corzetti with Confit Rabbit, Carrots, Green Beans and Carrot Top Pesto: Chef Brandi Key has been quietly rebelling against the notion that gluten-free pasta is inferior. Although the majority of the menu items are not, she has skillfully toyed with new concoctions to develop celiac friendly pastas such as this delicious homage to the bountiful Ligurian spring – enthusiastically answering yes to the question: shouldn’t we all get to enjoy the perfection that is pasta?

Hawthorn Restaurant

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Cavatelli with Rapini, House-made Sausage & Chilies: With only four ingredients making up this Pugliese classic, chef Riccardo Palazzo-Giorgio has nothing to hide behind except the quality of his products and craftsmanship of his pasta, both of which are impeccable. Refraining from excess dressing to showcase the true flavor and texture of the pasta shows the simplistically elegant mark of a bona fide Italian kitchen.

The Pass and Provisions

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Orecchiette with White Bolognese, Castelvetrano Olives and Cress: Chefs Seth Siegel-Garder and Terrence Gallivan’s hot spot has become omnipresent in the “best of” world, and their pasta is a big reason why the restaurant has received so much acclaim. The in-house extruded orecchiette dressed with creamy, tomato-less Bolognese gets Provision’s signature balancing act of flavor with their appropriate use of acidity along with the olive’s salinity and an herbal nose punch from the cress.

Ciao Bello

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Caramelli Zafferano: The Caramelli, stuffed pasta resembling the shape of a candy in its wrapper, is perfectly constructed with a supple center pocket and thick, toothsome twisted ends. Comprised only of crispy Prosciutto San Daniele, torn basil and a, for lack of a better word, beguiling saffron cream, it left our entire table cleaning the plate with our fingers.

Etoile Cuisine Et Bar

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Raviolis de Champignon: Although Etoile is undeniably an all-around French restaurant, that doesn’t keep chef Phillipe Verpiand from creating one of the most gorgeous pasta dishes in the city. Even if mushrooms conjure up rich memories of fall flavors, these ravioli are delicate enough to hold up to the warm months to come.

Da Marco

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Pappardelle with Rabbit Ragu: I would be remiss if I were not to include the daddy of Houston’s micro-regional Italian joints. Even though the sweet corn ravioli with lobster would be an obvious choice here, I must rank the perfectly braised rabbit ragu and dramatically fluted pappardelle noodles as one of my favorite pastas in town, as it has been for years.

Dolce Vita Pizzeria & Enoteca

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Spaghetti with Gulf Clams and Ceci: This humble bowl of spaghetti has been the dark horse on the Dolce menu for years. The light flavor of the ocean, nuttiness from the chickpea (ceci) and thin broth of clam liquor and white wine scream old-school Neapolitan Trattoria in spring.

Paulie's Restaurant

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Bucatini Amatriciana: The Paulie’s version of this Roman staple veers from the traditional preparation with its smoked bacon in lieu of guancialle; but what's in a name anyway? The scorched cherry tomatoes create a light sauce to accentuate the house-extruded bucatini noodles. Luckily, Paulie’s did not omit my favorite aspect of an Amatriciana, the searing chili-induced heat.

Brooklyn Athletic Club

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Pappardelle and Meatballs: If you are like me, it’s not uncommon that you find yourself with that hankering for some straight up spaghetti and meatballs. B.A.C. meets that demand with this insanely large bowl of pappardelle noodles and meatballs that have been braised all day in a rich ragu. If that’s not enough to satisfy your inner fifth-grader, the two huge chunks of garlic bread that accompany the pasta will be sure to do you in. It’s too bad that it’s not on the lunch menu, because it would make, dare I say it, excellent hang-over food.

Giacomo's cibo e vino

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Tagiatelle Bolognese: This quaint neighborhood eatery serves the best bowl of Bolognese in town. Being such a common find in Emilia Romagna, and an inherently informal one at that, makes this often butchered classic right at home in this uber-casual trattoria. The wine list has a quite impressive collection of obscure Italian grapes such as Calabrian Gaglioppo as well. [Photo credit: Joanne Witt/flickr]

Coppa Ristorante Italiano

Corzetti with Confit Rabbit, Carrots, Green Beans and Carrot Top Pesto: Chef Brandi Key has been quietly rebelling against the notion that gluten-free pasta is inferior. Although the majority of the menu items are not, she has skillfully toyed with new concoctions to develop celiac friendly pastas such as this delicious homage to the bountiful Ligurian spring – enthusiastically answering yes to the question: shouldn’t we all get to enjoy the perfection that is pasta?

Hawthorn Restaurant

Cavatelli with Rapini, House-made Sausage & Chilies: With only four ingredients making up this Pugliese classic, chef Riccardo Palazzo-Giorgio has nothing to hide behind except the quality of his products and craftsmanship of his pasta, both of which are impeccable. Refraining from excess dressing to showcase the true flavor and texture of the pasta shows the simplistically elegant mark of a bona fide Italian kitchen.

The Pass and Provisions

Orecchiette with White Bolognese, Castelvetrano Olives and Cress: Chefs Seth Siegel-Garder and Terrence Gallivan’s hot spot has become omnipresent in the “best of” world, and their pasta is a big reason why the restaurant has received so much acclaim. The in-house extruded orecchiette dressed with creamy, tomato-less Bolognese gets Provision’s signature balancing act of flavor with their appropriate use of acidity along with the olive’s salinity and an herbal nose punch from the cress.

Ciao Bello

Caramelli Zafferano: The Caramelli, stuffed pasta resembling the shape of a candy in its wrapper, is perfectly constructed with a supple center pocket and thick, toothsome twisted ends. Comprised only of crispy Prosciutto San Daniele, torn basil and a, for lack of a better word, beguiling saffron cream, it left our entire table cleaning the plate with our fingers.

Etoile Cuisine Et Bar

Raviolis de Champignon: Although Etoile is undeniably an all-around French restaurant, that doesn’t keep chef Phillipe Verpiand from creating one of the most gorgeous pasta dishes in the city. Even if mushrooms conjure up rich memories of fall flavors, these ravioli are delicate enough to hold up to the warm months to come.

Da Marco

Pappardelle with Rabbit Ragu: I would be remiss if I were not to include the daddy of Houston’s micro-regional Italian joints. Even though the sweet corn ravioli with lobster would be an obvious choice here, I must rank the perfectly braised rabbit ragu and dramatically fluted pappardelle noodles as one of my favorite pastas in town, as it has been for years.

Dolce Vita Pizzeria & Enoteca

Spaghetti with Gulf Clams and Ceci: This humble bowl of spaghetti has been the dark horse on the Dolce menu for years. The light flavor of the ocean, nuttiness from the chickpea (ceci) and thin broth of clam liquor and white wine scream old-school Neapolitan Trattoria in spring.

Paulie's Restaurant

Bucatini Amatriciana: The Paulie’s version of this Roman staple veers from the traditional preparation with its smoked bacon in lieu of guancialle; but what's in a name anyway? The scorched cherry tomatoes create a light sauce to accentuate the house-extruded bucatini noodles. Luckily, Paulie’s did not omit my favorite aspect of an Amatriciana, the searing chili-induced heat.

Brooklyn Athletic Club

Pappardelle and Meatballs: If you are like me, it’s not uncommon that you find yourself with that hankering for some straight up spaghetti and meatballs. B.A.C. meets that demand with this insanely large bowl of pappardelle noodles and meatballs that have been braised all day in a rich ragu. If that’s not enough to satisfy your inner fifth-grader, the two huge chunks of garlic bread that accompany the pasta will be sure to do you in. It’s too bad that it’s not on the lunch menu, because it would make, dare I say it, excellent hang-over food.

Giacomo's cibo e vino

Tagiatelle Bolognese: This quaint neighborhood eatery serves the best bowl of Bolognese in town. Being such a common find in Emilia Romagna, and an inherently informal one at that, makes this often butchered classic right at home in this uber-casual trattoria. The wine list has a quite impressive collection of obscure Italian grapes such as Calabrian Gaglioppo as well. [Photo credit: Joanne Witt/flickr]

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