The first few months of the year can sometimes feel like the longest — sandwiched somewhere between the excited energy of the holiday season and a much-anticipated spring. When the days get too dark too quickly and the evening chill has settled, nothing sounds better than a deep bowl of chewy, saucy pasta and a glass of inky, gripping wine. Luckily, there is no shortage of the dish here in New York.
Here just a few of our inspector’s picks for excellent handmade pastas across New York City and Westchester County.
Jonathan Benno’s eponymous restaurant opened in 2018 within The Evelyn Hotel, but the chef has over three decades of experience in some of the finest kitchens across the country. Before striking out on his own, he was the Chef de Cuisine at Thomas Keller’s Per Se for five years. At Benno, pastas make up just a portion of the menu, but are abundantly luxurious with ingredients like black truffle, sea urchin and Maine lobster.
This over-the-top, vintage Italian-American restaurant catapulted chefs Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and their Major Food Group onto the national dining scene when it opened seven years ago. At the original Greenwich Village location (there are outposts in Las Vegas and Hong Kong), pastas like the beloved spicy rigatoni vodka are an unequivocal highlight of the menu.
A new Bib Gourmand in the New York City & Westchester 2020 Guide, Ammazzacaffè is a neighborhood choice for reliably good house made pasta. This is an Italian-styled trattoria by way of Brooklyn. Harder to find pasta shapes (all made with an extruder in-house) like garganelli quills and frilly reginette are perfectly matched to their from-scratch sauces, which cling to every nook and cranny.
If 2020 is, indeed, the year of lasagna, then Baker & Co. is the place in New York City to have it. Here, the lasagna, among other things, is pulled bubbling hot from the wood-fired oven. This longtime Bib Gourmand in the West Village comes from the same group behind similarly charming spots like Aurora and, most recently, Fort Greene’s Evelina. If lasagna isn’t what you’re craving, maybe the mac & cheese “cacio e pepe” will do.
The Cookery may be over ten years old, but it is among the first class of Bib Gourmands in Westchester County. Chef/owner David DiBari graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and worked in kitchens around Manhattan before he settled in Dobbs Ferry and opened The Cookery. Handmade pastas like rigatoni with bone marrow and lemon brown butter ravioli stand out on the menu.
In Staten Island, Enoteca Maria is literally nonna’s kitchen. Owner Joe Scaravella oversees a roster of home cooks—who also happen to be grandmothers—responsible for preparing a host of ever-changing nightly specials. The core menu, however, is Italian, and is prepared by Chef (and grandmother) Adelina Orazzo Casola, a Naples native. Her preparations of offal may get all the attention, but pastas are generous and satiating.
Chef/co-owner Giancarlo Cacciatori named Nonna Beppa, which opened in 2018, after his grandmother. The signature dish at this new Bib Gourmand is tortellini en brodo: little parcels filled with cured meat and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese served in a light broth. The pasta selection highlights other regional specialties from Cacciatori’s native Emilia-Romagna like tagliatelle with ragu and lasagna Bolognese.
Chef Roberto Paciullo opened this iconic Italian restaurant on Arthur Avenue, the Little Italy of the Bronx, in 2008. Named after the area code for Salerno, a city outside Naples, the restaurant specializes in Neapolitan-style pizzas and other southern Italian fare. Though there are outposts in Manhattan and Westchester, the original offers consistently well-prepared pastas like linguini alla puttanesca and rigatoni with butternut squash sauce.
Joe Campanale is a restaurateur and highly regarded sommelier known for his effortlessly cool, and thus very much in-demand, New York take on an Italian trattoria. It started with dell’anima and L’Artusi and continues with his latest, Fausto in Brooklyn. Under chef and co-owner Erin Shambura, the long list of pastas has something for everyone. Here, orecchiette is served with fennel-braised pork and whole wheat chittara is twirled with mushrooms and capped with a gently poached egg.
Manhattan’s Little Italy may have a reputation for overpriced lunch specials and tourist-baiting gelato shops, but you can still find a good plate of pasta here. Gelso & Grand is a contemporary-styled restaurant that takes its ingredients seriously. House-milled flour is used in the hand-rolled pasta, which is paired with myriad sauces in classic combinations like spaghetti pomodoro and brown butter gnocchi.
This year, chef Sara Jenkins is celebrating the tenth anniversary of her iconic East Village restaurant, Porsena. This is a neighborhood restaurant that, for years, defined its neighborhood. Here, the “pasta-centric” menu (there are ten pastas available) offers timeless classics like rigatoni with sausage and spaghetti with meatballs. The penne arrabbiata, an is an original recipe from 2010.
Chef/owner, and Rome native, Antonio Morichini goes to painstaking efforts to faithfully recreate the cuisine of his home county at his trattoria in Astoria, Queens. Many of his ingredients, from cured ham to various cheeses, are imported from Italy. Northern Italian pastas make up most of the selection, but a handful of Roman specialties, like bucatini all’Amatriciana and spaghetti carbonara, are an interesting detour.