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The Ultimate Dining Guide to the Best Fresh Pasta in Boston

Sportello - The Ultimate Dining Guide to the Best Fresh Pasta in Boston
Sportello
By Jacqueline Cain · 12/21/2021

The Ultimate Dining Guide to the Best Fresh Pasta in Boston

 

Boston’s Italian cuisine scene is anything but ordinary, with acclaimed restaurants representing distinct regions and red sauce joints alike. One thing that helps the best spots stand out? Pastas of all shapes and sizes, crafted in-house and cooked to al dente perfection. Here are Boston-area restaurants to put on your radar for fresh pasta.

Pasta from Coppa

Coppa

The name of this South End spot certainly suggests that meat is the move, and indeed you can’t go wrong ordering house-cured charcuterie, bone marrow pizza, or the Italian Grinder at Coppa. But we also love this corner joint for pastas, and our favorite Spaghetti Carbonara features seafood: silky Maine uni enhances the eggy sauce clinging to the toothsome noodles.

Fox & the Knife

Fox & the Knife

Top Chef: All Stars alum and 2017 Best Chef: Northeast Karen Akunowicz is building a South Boston empire on top of spaghetti (and tagliatelle, ravioli, tortelli, and bucatini). Fox & the Knife swiftly launched Fox Pasta pickup during the pandemic, featuring fresh-made menu favorites to cook at home. In 2021 Akunowicz opened her second restaurant, Bar Volpe, with a glass-walled pastificio (pasta shop) that ships nationally.

Giulia

Even though pasta is meticulously crafted every day on a large wooden table that moonlights as one of Cambridge’s best group dining spots, Giulia isn’t exactly a pasta house. The rustic Italian cooking here is all about rich proteins and seasonal vegetables. That said, Pappardelle with Wild Boar—tender ribbons coated in melt-in-your-mouth braise—is exactly what pasta ragu should be.

MIDA

What makes Douglass Williams’ pastas so craveable at Mida is the Food & Wine Best New Chef honoree’s finesse with layering textures and flavors. Wide tubes of Paccheri are a conduit for smoky Bolognese and a sprinkling of herby, buttery, and crispy-caramelized breadcrumbs amps up silky-sweet Lobster Carbonara bucatini. Try them all on a Monday, when a dinner special at both Boston and Newton locations promises all the pasta you can mangia.

Best Fresh Pasta in Boston

Orfano

A swanky steakhouse in the Fenway neighborhood, Orfano updates the Italian-American rendition of the genre with big eggplant energy—that is, luxurious aubergine upholstery and a subversive whimsy we can’t help but indulge. Take a cue from the portrait of Lady Gaga slurping spaghetti hanging in the dining room, and invite a pasta course in between your first martini of the night and a steak entrée. Crispy pepperoni pizza but make it Lasagna? We can’t resist.

Fresh Pasta in Boston

Pammy’s

This Cambridge favorite calls herself a “New American trattoria,” meaning Pammy’s chef takes liberties with classic Italian dishes. Yet the important elements are always there, from a daily aperitivo hour to the bouncy tubes of house-made Lumache that comprise a must-order plate of spicy gochujang Bolognese.

The Pasta Box

Ciao! Pizza & Pasta in Chelsea drew us outside the city (even though it’s just a few miles north of the North End) for their famed Italian food. Wood-fired pizzas are the main event at Ciao, but we’ve also fallen for chef Marvin Posada’s pastas. So we are delighted to find the chef’s new Chelsea venture, The Pasta Box, serving lounge vibes and equally destination-worthy food, such as soul-satisfying Casarecce Marsala with tender braised chicken thighs, roasted mushrooms, and root vegetables. 

Prezza

One of the North End’s most alluring restaurants, Prezza serves sophisticated takes on the “Italian peasant food” that chef-owner Anthony Caturano grew up eating with his nonna. We love this version of Lobster Fra Diavolo, which brightens up the neighborhood staple with saffron rigatoni and fennel; and Prezza’s signature “Ravioli di Uovo,” a single, luxurious orb of ricotta and egg yolk practically floating in butter and sage.

Prezza raviolo

Rino’s Place

This family-run spot in East Boston may seem the platonic ideal of an Italian-American restaurant, complete with murals depicting the Old Word. But Rino’s Place is anything but ordinary: It’s beloved (and popular) for friendly service, homemade pastas, and flavorful sauces. The menu is huge and so are the portions; we recommend the gigantic Lobster Ravioli or your gravy of choice adorning sauce-soaking coils of rigatoni.

The Salty Pig

The restaurant across from Back Bay Station may come to mind for charcuterie boards and stone-fired pizza, but The Salty Pig also makes some of our favorite pasta dishes in the city. Spaghetti is tossed in truffle butter, the sweetness of Bucatini Amatriciana is enhanced by bacon, and we don’t even miss the meat in the porcini sugo finto smothering house-rolled rigatoni.

Sportello

The Italianesque entrée into local chef Barbara Lynch’s restaurant group is actually inspired by a diner in both its counter-seat setup and comfort-food focus. Sportello is far from a greasy spoon, however—though you may need one to help twirl your Tagliatelle Bolognese. This fulfilling signature dish drenches silky, wide noodles in a memorably meaty and creamy tomato sauce.

SRV

A self-stylized South End bacaro, or small-plates restaurant inspired by Venice, SRV pays homage to Venetian cuisine with a “Grani” menu section that also encompasses the regional rice specialty, risotto. SRV’s pastas—crafted in-house with locally milled flour—are duly worthy, paired with seasonal sauces in ever-changing shapes such as half-moon pillows of casunziei or frilly ribbons of Mafaldine.

SRV pasta

Sycamore

An earthly oasis in Newton Centre, Sycamore isn’t an Italian restaurant, but house-made pastas are deftly handled as a canvas for seasonal cuisine. Two enticing options typically grace the Starters menu (think: half-sized portions of Lumache Nero with R.I. squid and caper pangrattato, or Salt Cod Tortellini in ham broth with rapini and lemon oil), plus a third weekend special.

Tony & Elaine’s

Tony & Elaine’s is a relative newcomer to the North End, though you wouldn’t know it from the vinyl booths, checkerboard floors, or straw-wrapped bottle of Chianti on every table. Substantial servings of Chicken Parmesan with house-made mezzi rigatoni and Orecchiette Sausage & Rabe are also reminiscent of the red sauce joints we all romanticize, but these chewy pastas are better than we remember.

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