pasta-table-spread

Gnudi, pici, spaghetti, tagliatelle, ravioli… there’s an alphabet’s worth of pasta out there but chances are you’ve only scratched the surface. Expand your vocabulary via old-school trattorias and modest outposts teetered on cliff tops. These are the best pasta restaurants in Italy.

1. Osteria al Casale, Matera

Sitting in a quiet street in the Matera’s town centre, Osteria al Casale is the perfect setting to twirl spaghetti. Osteria al Casale focuses on “cucina povera” – simple provincial dishes that champion fresh ingredients. Dine on truffle ravioli on the restaurant’s open terrace with views of southern Italy’s sepia-toned natural beauty.

2. Agustarello a Testaccio, Rome

Humble and inconspicuous, Agustarello is a local favourite. Stomachs may turn at the thought of offal but one bite of their gricia (handmade pasta with pork jowl, pecorino cheese and black pepper) or trippa alla romana (strips of beef tripe cooked with tomato and mint) and any icky associations are quickly forgotten, to be swiftly replaced by unforgettable flavours.

3. Algiubagio Restaurant, Venice

Whether you’re dining beneath chandeliers in the restaurant’s romantic indoor space, or watching boats pass by outside at a table outside come summer, this is Venice at its most delectable and glamorous. Salute your surroundings and order a dish with seafood, such as the black tagliatelle with almonds and cuttlefish on leek and saffron mousse.

4. Al Gatto Nero, Turin

What began as a 1927 Tuscan trattoria is now one of Turin’s most reputable restaurants. At Al Gatto Nero you will certainly not go hungry; the pappardelle with duck ragu and anything featuring local white truffles (sourced from Alba) are particularly good. Similar to its understated menu, Al Gatto Nero’s decor is unassuming, elegant and quietly sophisticated.

5. Lo Scoglio, Amalfi Coast

A modest seaside family-run restaurant on the Sorrentine Peninsula, La Scoglio is cut off from the tourists flocking to Positano. Meals are confidently unpretentious, simple and restrained. Devour plates of fresh seafood (the octopus is particularly good here) and homemade pasta (we love the zucchini spaghetti)  on a sun-drenched afternoon, overlooking over cerulean waters and the Li Galli islands in the distance, Aperol spritz in hand.

6. Mercato Centrale, Florence

Numerous artisan-manned pasta stalls sprawl across the Central Market in San Lorenzo. On the ground level, La Pasta Fresca’s large windows beckon diners inside with their production lines of pici, ravioli and tortellini sold by the deli out at the front. Can’t wait? Grab some prepared pasta to-go, such as ricotta-spinach ravioli in lemon sauce. Alternatively, head up one floor to Il Tartufo, a fourth-generation, family-owned Tuscan company specialising in finest quality truffles. Try to snag one of the few seats at the bar.

7. Il Covo Marino, Sicily

Sitting in a tiny fishing village a 20-minute drive from Catania, you’d be forgiven for not noticing Il Covo Marina. The restaurant’s decor may be lacking, but it belies the culinary offerings inside. Seafood rightly takes the spotlight on a rotating menu that changes daily depending on the morning’s catch. Order the sea-urchin pasta with grilled crustaceans and pair with local wine.

8. Tamerò, Florence

In place of red-and-white checked napery, here you’ll find steel tables, a bare concrete floor and benches covered in burlap. While Tamerò may not have a “since 1800s” sign to fall back on, the food here is approval enough. Twelve kinds of pasta are made from scratch daily – our favourite is pasta culurgiones (pasta dumpling filled with potato, ginger and mint). The wine menu features Tuscany’s smaller labels and if you’ve had a few, you’ll be grateful for the restaurant’s after-dinner DJ at the weekend.

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