Dining: Pasta Perfect

January 30, 2013

Allison Austin Scheff

Lifestyle_pasta_0

Sometimes, you just need a plate of pasta. Our favorite dishes run the gamut, from understated elegance to decadent and over the top. Try them all and see what we mean.

Tajarin at Spinasse

If we had to make a bucket list of Seattles must-try pastas, these impossibly elegant noodles made on Capitol Hill easily make the cut. We prefer the fine egg-yellow strands dressed only in sage butter, but you can choose to have them dressed in the restaurants classic ragu. Whats most important is that you close your eyes and really taste them. And that you go back often. ($17; 1531 14th Ave., Seattle; spinasse.com)

Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe at Rione XIII

When a dish is a simple as thisonly pasta, pecorino, black pepper and butterevery element must be just right. At this Ethan Stowell spot on Capitol Hill, long, thick, chewy noodles arrive as if individually rolled in the sharp, sheeps milk cheese and pepper, bathing in a buttery sauce. As you eat them, theres a dryness in the mouth, and a peppery bite that begs for a sip of good red wine. ($14; 401 15th Ave. E, Seattle; ethanstowellrestaurants.com/rionexiii)

Pretty Much Anything at Il Corvo Pasta

Chef and pasta whiz Mike Easton often makes up his menu the morning before the lunch service at his new Pioneer Square location. Weve tasted Eastons cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) pasta, which uses Beechers Flagship; his strozzapreti (priest strangler) pasta, rolled by hand into thumb-length noodles and served with with hearty brined lamb and black olives; and his gnocchi with blue cheese and walnuts, and it has all been very, very good. Did we mention its cheap? (On average, $9$10; 217 James St., Seattle; ilcorvopasta.com)

Maltagliati with Pork Sugo at Cafe Juanita

At the marvelous, refined Cafe Juanita in Kirkland, chef/owner Holly Smith has a reputation for serving sublime house-made pastas. Here, the tissue-like sheets of noodles fold and bend around a seductive sauce of braised ground pork from Jones Family Farms. Gilding the lily: pools of honey-lemon ricotta, for lift. Simple but sublime. ($16; 9702 NE 120th Place, Kirkland; cafejuanita.com)

Clam Linguine at Bizzarro Italian Cafe

At this cozy, wacky Wallingford restaurant, you wont believe how many sweet clams arrive on top of house-made linguine in a jalapeno-and-pancetta-laced white wine butter sauce. Hot, salty, of sea and hog, the stuff is downright good. ($10.95; 1307 N 46th St., Seattle; bizzarroitaliancafe.com)

Spaghetti with Meatballs at La Medusa

Making the simple taste sublime is a trick best left to the pros and the grandmas. The chefs at Columbia Citys La Medusa are the former, but this dishwith supple meatballs amid al dente spaghetti dressed in a bright, herby tomato sauceproves theres some grandma influence, too. ($18; 4857 Rainier Ave. S, Seattle; lamedusarestaurant.com)

Lasagna at Cafe Lago

Could this Montlake restaurant be home to Seattles most iconic pasta dish? Revel in sheets of pasta so thin theyre pierced by the slightest pressure of the fork, ricotta and a house-made bechamel sauce in dreamy layers, and that sweet, bright tomato sauce that seems impossible to achieve in deep winter. ($22; 2305 24th Ave. E, Seattle; cafelago.com)

Allison Austin Scheff