Seven Pasta Dishes to Try in Boston Right Now
As a foodstuff, pasta is old—impossibly old. So old, that its ancientness is hard to pin down. Though, as Boston magazine food critic Corby Kummer pointed out in an Atlantic article, “no one disputes that the Chinese have made pasta, from many more kinds of flour than Europeans have, since at least 1100 B.C.,” the first recorded evidence of pasta in Italy doesn’t show up until the 12th century (well before Marco Polo’s voyages, we might add).
But while its origin is murky, one aspect of pasta is indisputable: When prepared perfectly, there are few dining experiences more transcendent. So it’s no surprise that someone dreamt up National Pasta Day, observed on October 17. We recommend you celebrate by trying some of the city’s most sought-after pasta dishes. Here are seven of our favorites at the moment.
Bucatini All’amatriciana at Giulia
We hadn’t awarded a Best of Boston award for pasta since 1998, but then Giulia showed up and changed everything. To behold the menu at Giulia—a Porter Square eatery with truly impressive bona fides in authentic Italian cuisine—is to be paralyzed with indecision: Should you order the wild boar pappardelle, the porcini tagliatelle, or the giant veal ravioli? You really can’t go wrong here, but we have a special fondness for their Bucatini all’amatriciana, which boasts house-cured pancetta instead of the traditional guanciale.
1682 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-441-2800, giuliarestaurant.com.
Linguine con Vongole at Antico Forno
In a neighborhood whose cup overfloweth with red sauce and excellent pasta joints, Antico Forno stands out. Their pizzas are divine, as are the hearty pasta dishes—go for the linguine con vongole, pasta with a generous helping of sautéed clams and fresh cherry tomatoes in a garlic white wine sauce baked in parchment paper and finished in the brick oven.
93 Salem St., Boston, 617-723-6733, anticofornoboston.com.
Bucatini at Centre Street Cafe
Last year, chef Brian Rae transformed JP neighborhood favorite Centre Street cafe into a haven for modern Italian–New American cuisine. Having worked with Jody Adams at Rialto, Rae won our hearts with heavenly platters of buckwheat lasagna with sage pesto, chestnut-and-goat-cheese ravioli with squash and brioche crumbs, and meatballs with ricotta salata. But the real showstopper is the amatriciana-style bucatini with mozzarella, guanciale, and “a killer tomato sauce that I fought friends for every time we ordered it,” wrote Kummer in his review. No need to fight, though—there’s plenty of pasta and love to go around at our favorite romantic restaurant.
669A Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-524-9217, centrestreetcafejp.com.
La Pasta du Chef at Josephine
Does one typically seek pasta when you’re at a French bistro? When you’re at Josephine, you do. This year, the former Petit Robert space reopened as Josephine, offering a new look, a new name, and a first-time owner—and a chef with a resume that includes several Michelin-starred restaurants. An extra-decadent take on surf-and-turf, Josephine’s la pasta du chef features saffron tagliolini bathed in lobster cream and studded with unctuous bites of pork belly.
468 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 484-995-2797, josephineboston.com.
Taccozzette at Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca
Earlier this year, Mario Batali opened a Boston outpost of his wildly popular Babbo. And while their pizza is a big deal, the pasta is the other star of the menu. Before you spring for the cacio e pepe—a Batali signature dish—consider getting the sausage-laden taccozzette, which, at $10 a plate, might well be one of the few (and best) bargains in Seaport dining.
11 Fan Pier Blvd., Boston, 617-421-4466, babbopizzeria.com.
Tagliatelle Al Ragú at La Morra
There are many reasons we make the trek out to Brookline’s La Morra when we crave Boston’s best Italian cuisine. We go for Josh Ziskin’s beef-and-cheese-filled arancini, the batter-dipped sage leaves fried with salty anchovies, and the Tuscan meatballs with porcini and prosciutto. But most of all, we go for the tagliatelle al ragú—which comes in a thick bolognese sauce with lamb, pork, veal, beef, and foie gras butter. And we’re in good company: It’s Tom Brady’s favorite dish, too.
48 Boylston St., Brookline, 617-739-0007, lamorra.com.
Pappardelle Bolognese at Ribelle
If you prefer your carbo-loading to be “intellectually engaging,” head to Ribelle, where Tim Maslow and his house-made pastas await. “In all of the dishes, sweet, starch, fat, heat, and smoke came in and out of view in marvelously unpredictable rhythm,” our reviewer marveled. One of diners’ favorite vehicles for Maslow’s pasta technique is the pappardelle Bolognese with kale and pork rinds—a menu item since the restaurant first opened in 2013.
1665 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-232-2322, ribellebkline.com.