Top 5 Pasta Dishes
I love pasta! It’s one of the few things I love eating out as much as I love cooking at home. And the same rules apply: don’t overcook it (dried pasta should be al dente and fresh should be tender with a little ‘bite’), serve it fresh (never pre-cooked) and keep the sauce simple (3 or 4 ingredients). Particular shapes work best with specific sauces, so avoid anywhere that offers a mix-and-match selection of shapes and sauces. Short pasta, such as penne, traps the chunks of textured sauces like meaty ragùs, while long pasta is best with something like a simple smooth tomato sauce; and fresh pasta works best with mild creamy sauces while dried pasta stands up to punchier flavours. Here are five pasta dishes I can’t resist.
Black Handkerchief Pasta with Seafood & Chilli (Lucio’s Italian Restaurant)
Lucio’s fresh pasta is the finest and smoothest I know, and always has great bite. The fazzoletti neri ai frutti di mare, jet-black strips of pasta tossed with chunks of prawn and cuttlefish (they leave the mussels out for me) with a touch of garlic, chilli and chervil, is one of my benchmark pasta dishes!
Truffle Cacio e Pepe (Chester White Cured Diner)
This is the quintessential simple pasta dish (to add anything more would be a crime): hot spaghetti, black pepper and parsley, tossed in the hollow of a wheel of Sardinian truffled Pecorino cheese. It picks up all that cheesy, truffle flavour – and I love the theatre of it! Sister restaurant, Buffalo Dining, does it too.
Strozzapreti with Kale & Enoki (ACME)
Mitch Orr learnt from some of the best, including Giovanni Pilu, but having learnt the rules, he now knows how to break them with integrity. I love just about all the pasta dishes at ACME, but the strozzapretti with kale dust and flecks of enoki mushroom almost has me licking the plate.
Spaghetti Burrata & Colatura di Alici (Maybe Frank)
This cool pizzeria and bar, tucked away off Bourke Street, also has a short pasta menu. I love their punchy spaghetti with creamy burrata, colatura di alici (anchovy fish sauce modelled on Ancient Roman garum), confit tomatoes and fried breadcrumbs. Not pretty – but irresistibly good!
Truffled Egg Fettuccine (Buon Ricordo)
No list of Sydney pasta dishes can be complete without Armando Percuoco’s creamy fettuccine topped with a fried truffle-scented egg and deftly tossed together tableside, with freshly grated parmesan, by a white-coated waiter. Yes it’s rich … but you won’t regret it!
And if you’d rather try your hand cooking pasta at home, have a look at my recipe page for Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini ~ Orecchiette with Broccoli, Anchovies & Chilli ~ Gnocchi alla Sorrentina ~ Tagliatelle with Pesto ~ Fettucine with Black Truffles ~ Pasta e Fagioli ~ Rigatoni Puttanesca.