Phantom Gourmet: Great 8 Pasta
Spaghetti, Ziti, Ravioli; pasta comes in all shapes and sizes. These are the eight greatest places to get it.
Kicking off the Great 8 is Giulia in Cambridge. Chef Michael Pagliarini makes all of his fluffy pasta fresh every day, on a long rustic wooden table that turns into one of the best seats in the house during dinner service. You’ll find a lot of customers throughout the dining room enjoying mouthwatering buccatini pasta with house cured pancetta, and incredibly fragrant hand-cut pappardelle with wild boar, black trumpet mushrooms, juniper berries and aged parmigiano.
“When the pappardelle is going through the dining room you can smell it,” Pagliarini said. “I think that convinces a lot of people to try it, because when the first one goes out, then the orders start coming in for more and more. Petty soon we have the whole dining room full of pappardelle.”
At Via in Worcester, Italian comfort food is served in a huge inviting space sporting a four-season patio, an active bar and a high energy dining room. There are classic pasta dishes like Spaghetti and Meatballs and Surf and Turf featuring tenderloin and lobster alongside Tagliatelle Bolognese. Phantom also loves the Ragu of Italian meats served in a cast iron skillet full of slow cooked pork, sausage, chicken and meatballs.
Prides Osteria, Beverly
Another Great 8 winner is Prides Osteria in Beverly, arguably one of the most authentic Italian restaurants in the country. It all starts with the pastas, made by Chef Paolo Laboa, who spent most of his life in Genoa, Italy, and now brings his Northern Italian recipes to the North Shore. Every day, Paolo and his team craft and hand-cut gorgeous pastas right on site. It’s usually done just before service starts, but sometimes you can watch them work while the restaurant is open, which gives customers a front row seat to freshness.
Pasta Beach, Newport & Rowe’s Wharf
With locations in Newport, Rhode Island and adjacent to Rowe’s Wharf in Boston, Pasta Beach serves up Italian food that’s as authentic as it gets. That’s because everything in the restaurant comes directly from Italy, including the chefs. So you can be sure your Pizza Napoleatana will be perfectly charred, and your Pasta Bolognese or spaghetti pomodoro will be handcrafted by an experienced cook.
Zooma is a traditional trattoria located on Federal Hill in Providence. Here they serve hearty plates of pasta like the Tagliatelle with a beefy Bolognese, lasagnas cooked in a 900 degree oven, and black ribbon pasta topped with tasty sautéed shrimp. The pasta couldn’t be fresher. It’s all made on site in a small room where customers can watch while they wait for their table.
“Right when you come in the front door there’s a wide-open window on the left in our foyer and it shows where the pasta’s being made. It definitely shows that food is our focal point. “
Basta Pasta, Cambridge & Quincy
Another great 8 winner is Basta Pasta in Cambridge & Quincy, where real Italian food is cooked from scratch and cooked with love. Here they hand-craft every authentic Italian dish on the menu from dressings and sauces, to meatballs and desserts. But the name of the place is Basta Pasta- and the standout dish is the Fusilli Bolognese
“People like Bolognese so much we can’t keep up with it… Like ten pounds of fresh ground beef every day. Very simple, very basic but people like it.”
Da Vinci, Boston
Every plate of pasta is a masterpiece at Da Vinci on Columbus Ave. in Boston. This romantic restaurant is decked out with dim lighting, fine artwork and eye-catching candalabras. The kitchen focuses on modern Italian like the fluffy gnocchi pomodoro with fresh mozzarella, along with some creative pasta dishes like the Indian Fusion Masala Ravioli. And it’s all presented on a fun yet functional menu.
“Even the menu at Da Vinci is something special. When you open it up, it lights up, so you can read it no matter what. Even though there’s dim romantic lighting in here, you have no problem reading Chef Pepino’s dishes.”
Rino’s Place, East Boston
Rounding out the Great 8 is Rino’s Place in East Boston, a tiny Italian eatery with a big personality and even bigger national reputation. The menu features housemade pastas and home-style red-sauce classics. Phantom always starts his meal with their masterful ravioli, whether it’s the fluffy, creamy cheese ravioli or luscious lobster ravioli served in a rich basil cream sauce.
Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.
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