8 Must-Try Pasta Dishes Around Boston

By Scott Kearnan
February 14, 2014

A heaping bowl of pasta does an appetite good in the cold New England winter. But you're not looking for basic spaghetti-and-meatballs stuff; you want some creative, chef-driven dishes with a sense of style and whimsy. We've found a wide variety of new pasta dishes, from down-South spicy to European-elegant, to satisfy your carb cravings.

  • Mesquite Tortellini at Alden & Harlow

    There is no shortage of superb shareable plates at chef Michael Scelfo's just-opened (but long-awaited) new-meets-old American in Harvard Square (in fact, here's a whole "Cheat Sheet" that should guide your first visit). But we're in love with these supple tortellini, which have a pleasant mesquite smokiness and are topped with bianco sardo (a rustic sheep's milk cheese) and the slightest hint of colatura, an Italian fish sauce that is the essence of Mediterranean anchovies.

  • Garganelli at Cinquecento

    Chef Justin Winters has a gorgeous plate of egg-based garganelli pasta at this South End trattoria. It's served with a red wine-octopus ragu and guanciale, cured pork jowl. Ancient Romans would have warred over this dish.

  • Rigatoni Bolognese at Rialto

    This full-portion plate from the bar menu is simple, done-right and delicious: superb noodles with veal, beef, tomato and oregano. It's so famous, we hear that Neil Patrick Harris requested "the best bolo in town" as an addition to his dinner menu last week when in town to accept his Man of the Year honors from Hasty Pudding.

  • Pasta Bolognese at Common Ground

    On the other hand, sometimes refinement is overrated. You can't beat the price ($12) for the size of this bolognese dish, a deeply flavorful one that doesn't hold back: expect big chunks of braised brisket and ground beef. Hearty comfort food, well done without restraint. We dig (into) it.

  • Lasagna at M.C. Spiedo

    If you haven't already, check out our detailed look at M.C. Spiedo, which opened this week in the Seaport as an upscale Italian inspired by historic recipes of the Renaissance. Then get over there, and dig deep into the lasagna: handmade egg pasta layered with ricotta, parmigiano reggiano, toasted pinenuts, golden raisins, a rich slow-cooked ragù of beef and pork. It's baked in the pizza oven for a little extra amazing.

  • Veal Ravioli at Prezza

    Chef Anthony Caturano can do no wrong with his pasta. Here's another he gets right: veal ravioli with mascarpone and a brown-butter-and-sage sauce, available as entree- and appetizer-sized portions. To spread the love, opt for the former and round it out with another half-portion of his ricotta and escarole ravioli (with pancetta, pistachios and honey), another new standout.

  • Photo by: Michael Young

    Memphis BBQ Spaghetti at State Park

    We could drown and die happy in this bowl, a flavor-packed explosion of smoked pork shoulder, pasta and a 50/50 mix of housemade marinara and barbecue sauce. Like many of the plates, it was inspired by chef-owner Barry Maiden's Southern roots and travels - in this case, a similar dish served at Interstate Barbecue in Memphis.

  • Saffron & Squid Ink Tagliatelle at Bistro du Midi

    There's almost a hint of the exotic in this dish from chef Robert Sisca, featuring a red-wine-braised Spanish octopus with prosciutto and basil, swimming on a plate of tagliatelle made with saffron and squid ink.


Places Mentioned

Bistro du Midi

French • Park Square

Food26 Decor25 Service25 Cost$53

Italian • North End

Food27 Decor22 Service24 Cost$55
Common Ground Bar and Grill

Bar And Grill • Allston

Atmo.20 Decor17 Service19 CostM
Cinquecento Roman Trattoria

Italian • South End

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
Rialto Restaurant

Italian • Cambridge

Food25 Decor24 Service24 Cost$58
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