18 Pasta Dishes in Chicago You Must Eat Before You Die
Please meet the Beyoncé of spaghetti Carbonaras
Pasta is patient, pasta is kind. It’s the perfect canvas for your red sauces, your alfredos, your frutti di mare. There’s nothing it can’t do, as far as we’re concerned. Here, our 18 favorite places in Chicago to practice the fork and twirl (not to be mistaken with the bend and snap).
18. Rotini Santa Lucia at Via Carducci
Mushrooms, peas, crumbled sausage, and a noodle that expertly soaks up all that sauce--what’s not to love?
1928 W. Division St.; 773-252-2244 or viacarduccichicago.com
16. Meat Lasagna from Sapori Trattoria
When the mood for lasagna strikes, there’s only one place to go: Sapori Trattoria. The casual, cool Italian restaurant does it up right with all the classic fixings.
2701 N. Halsted St.; 773-832-999 or saporitrattoria.net
15. Risotto de Mare at Ceres’ Table
Hats off to Ceres’ Table for mastering the oh-so-indulgent risotto de mare. A hefty portion of seafood is the perfect mate for their just-right risotto.
3124 N. Broadway St.; 773-922-4020 or cerestable.com
14. Breakfast Spaghetti at Little Goat
Make all your childhood dreams come true by slurping up this mass of clam, crispy pasta, and eggs all before 11 A.M. Follow it up with a Little Goat milkshake to really go rogue.
820 W. Randolph St.; 312-888-3455 or littlegoatchicago.com
13. Ravioli at Boka
Boka’s menu changes frequently, but their homemade ravioli is always an exciting, modern twist on the beloved stuffed pouch. Chef Boyardee this is not. (No offence, Chef Boyardee.
1729 N. Halsted St.; 312-337-6070 or bokachicago.com
12. Gnocchi at A Tavola
Any menu item with the words “brown sage butter” catches our eye, but A Tavola gives buttery goodness a whole new depth in this simple, elegant dish.
2148 W. Chicago Ave.; 773-276-7567 or atavolachi.com
11. Cuttlefish Ink Pasta at Publican
Yes, Publican is a mecca for all things meat, but consider this your public service announcement to not sleep on Publican’s pasta dishes. The cuttlefish ink pasta is umami heaven.
837 W. Fulton Market; 312-733-9555 or thepublicanrestaurant.com
10. Lobster Spaghetti at Nico Osteria
No one would blame you for licking your plate of Nico Osteria’s Lobster Spaghetti. With lobster, guanicale and fava beans, this dish is the definition of treat yo’ self.
1015 N. Rush St.; 312-994-7100 or nicoosteria.com
9. Gnocchi at Osteria Langhe
Crispy lamb on top of pillowy, perfectly cooked gnocchi--when is it too soon to come back again?
2824 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-661-1582 or osterialanghe.com
8. Spaghetti di Mare at Nando Milano Trattoria
We love, love, love Nando Milano Trattoria’s take on the classic Spaghetti di Mare. Mussels, clams, langoustine and cherry tomatoes are all right at home in their flawless imperial sauce.
2114 W. Division St. or 773-486-2636
7. Conchigle alla Sarda at Topo Gigio
It doesn’t get any more classic than Old Town’s Topo Gigio. There’s not a weak link on the entire menu, but the Conchigle alla Sada--a dish of seashell pasta in a tomato-cream sauce with ground sausage--is something special.
1516 N. Wells St.; 312-266-9355 or topogigiochicago.com
6. Cacio e Pepe at Davanti Enoteca
Cacio e Pepe is like the sexier, older cousin of macaroni and cheese and we are so here for it. No one does it better than Davanti Enoteca.
Locations at davantienoteca.com
5. Rigatoni at Francesco’s Hole In The Wall
The beloved Francesco’s Hole In The Wall may be out in Northbrook, but the old-school Italian spot is worth the drive. Go classic with this rigatoni in a fresh and vibrant tomato sauce. Add eggplant if you’re feeling special.
254 Skokie Blvd.; 847-272-0155 or francescosholeinthewall.com
4. Wild Boar Gnocchi at Café Spiaggia
Helmed by Chef Tony Mantuano, Café Spiaggia is the ideal place to cap off a day on Michigan Avenue. Wild boar ragu and expertly cooked gnocchi is everything you want in a hearty pasta dish…hey, it’s everything you want in life.
Level 2, 980 N. Michigan Ave., 312-280-2750 or spiaggiarestaurant.com/cafe
3. Baked Cavatelli from Gio’s Café
This is the ultimate in old-school. Gio’s gets right to the point with al dente cavatelli baked with homemade marinara, ricotta and a whole lot of mozzarella.
2724 S. Lowe Ave.; 312-225-6368 or gioscafe.com
2. Tagliolini Nero at Balena
All the pastas at Balena are going to sate your carb craving, but there’s nothing quite like the Tagliolini Nero--a mixture of crab meat, uni butter sauce, serrano chile and lime so beautiful it just might bring a tear to your eye.
1633 N. Halsted St.; 312-867-3888 or balenachicago.com
1. Ragu Alla Napoletana at Monteverde
This is the star of the show, the pasta dish you’ll tell your kids about. Superstar CThef Sarah Grueneberg calls this dish “a big bowl of love,” placing a pork shank, three house-made sausages, and soppressata meatballs atop a bed of fusilli.
1020 W. Madison St.; 312-888-3041 or monteverdechicago.com