A plate of pasta has more power than your favorite blanket, a tumbler of brown liquor, and Chocolat (yes, the filmic masterpiece from the year 2000), combined. That is, the right plate of pasta. Overcooked spaghetti covered with half a can of store-bought ragu will have decidedly different effects. So be sure to do pasta night the right way, and order from any of the 10 spots on this guide.
Frankies (457) Spuntino
Despite a menu full of fantastic pastas and Italian entrees, just the mention of this Carroll Gardens spot’s name acts like a snow plow, clearing everything from our minds but the snap of housemade ricotta cavatelli, and the chunks of hot sausage luxuriating in brown butter and sage on the plate below. In other words, the cavatelli with sausage needs to be part of your order.
Look up Park Slope on most real estate websites, and proximity to Prospect Park is usually the first perk you’ll see. We’d have no problem with that, assuming we could find housemade ravioli filled with corn and mascarpone in the Botanical Gardens, or spicy spaghetti with octopus confit in the zoo. Until that day comes, we suggest Al Di La move to the top of the list.
We’re not discouraging you from ordering Clay’s perfectly crispy black bass, nor are we suggesting that picking up their confit duck leg like you’re at Medieval Times is in any way a bad idea. We are simply saying that you’re reading this guide for a reason, and we don’t want to take your eye off the prize. At this Harlem spot, your prize is pillowy-soft gnocchi with heirloom tomatoes, and bucatini doused in short rib ragu.
Granted, the closest we’ve gotten to Italy recently was a podcast about Julius Caesar in Gaul, but we still contend that the pasta from Sandro’s is as good as anything we’ve had in Rome. And the furthest you need to travel to get your hands on this bucatini all’amatriciana or cacio e pepe is your front door.
Choosing a pasta from Fiaschetteria Pistoia is like choosing how to break the ice with someone who’s clearly into you - it’ll be tough in the moment, but in the end, you’ll realize there was no way you could’ve gone wrong. Order dishes like cacio e pepe with hand rolled spaghetti, pappardelle al ragu, or housemade tagliatelle topped with a mound of black truffle from either of their two locations in the West Village, or the original spot in the East Village.
If it’s not broke, then don’t fix it. That’s one strategy, but we prefer a different one: if it’s not broke, then combine it with something else that’s not broke, and make something awesome. That’s what Footprints Cafe does with their “rasta pasta.” At all three of this Caribbean spot’s Brooklyn locations, you can get their jerk chicken, curry goat, or braised oxtail served over a huge plate of penne, which soaks up the juices and sauces from the meat.
Zero Otto Nove is best known for their pizza like Madison Square Garden is best known for basketball. It’s by no means their only claim to fame, and in the case of this Italian spot on Arthur Ave in the Bronx, another one very much worth mentioning is their baked pasta. Whether you order the baked rigatoni with meatballs and soppressata, or mafalde and pancetta buried under pecorino and toasted breadcrumbs, you’ll forget they even serve pizza (though you should feel free to order a pie as well).
Rezdora serves the kind of pastas that you probably can’t make at home. You can see that for yourself by ordering tender anolini in parmigiano cream sauce, or spinach cappelletti stuffed with leeks and roasted mushroom puree for delivery. You could also order fresh pasta, sauce, and a brick of parmigiano reggiano from this Flatiron spot, and tell us never to doubt your skills again after making their eggless radiatore with duck ragu for two in your own kitchen.
If you’re ordering from Ammazzacaffe, you’re ordering pasta. That would be good advice no matter what, but at the moment, it’s just a fact. For delivery, this Williamsburg spot is offering a $30 three-course meal in which you choose an appetizer, a pasta, and a dessert. In between sunchokes with hazelnut pesto and housemade gelato with espresso foam, enjoy torcia with pork bolognese or spinach gamelli with mushrooms. Consider adding one of their fresh pastas and red sauces for your pantry as well.
Just because most delicious pasta has gluten, it doesn’t mean gluten-free versions need to compete on the JV courts. For proof, order from Pastai in Chelsea, which offers all of its housemade pastas as gluten-free versions, like lemon tagliatelle with lobster, or paccheri with an eight-hour flank steak ragu.