Pasta is universal in its popularity because it’s economical and versatile. But perhaps there is more to it than that. It is one of the first truly different foods we’re introduced to as a child. It is neither an animal or plant product, but manmade. It comes in intriguing shapes like stars, alphabet letters or slurpy long strands. For many it is the original comfort food—mac ’n cheese—whether it’s made by mom or from the blue box. I always liked the name of the restaurant that used to be at Schenk’s Corners: “Pasta Per Tutti,” or translated, “pasta for all.”
So, here is my list of Madison’s best pasta dishes—something for everybody.
Lombardino’s menu changes frequently but a permanent resident seems to be the orecchiette with sausage and rapini (which is a good thing since I just can’t get enough of it).
You know the Pasta Liliana better be good since it’s named after Liliana’s. A most delicious concoction it is—andouille, chicken, blackened shrimp and pappardelle in a roasted red pepper cream sauce.
Old and New
Whether you’re hankering for some old style fettuccine Alfredo or a more uptown fettuccine with lobster and crab in a vodka cream reduction sauce, The Continental Fitchburg has it all. Be sure and try the fried ravioli appetizer.
For whatever reason, lasagna is something more often enjoyed at home than at a restaurant. Gino’s is an exception where the lasagna is a specialty of the house and a secret Gargano family recipe.
This joint began as the Wah Kee Noodle Factory on Park Street more than twenty years ago. Today on Willy Street, they serve a zillion kinds of noodles—thick and thin, both in broth and sauced—mostly Chinese but a few other Asian specialties as well.
Stir-fried rice noodles are flavored with fish sauce and tamarind, then combined with various meats or tofu and garnished with ground peanuts and lime. It’s the national dish of Thailand and Sala Thai makes one of the most exemplary versions in our city.
Mac ’n Cheese
Macaroni and cheese at The Old Fashioned is made with sharp Wisconsin cheddar and aged parmesan topped with crispy breadcrumbs. It’s also available with a side of ring bologna for a genuine Sconnie touch.
Read Dan Curd's food and dining blog "Small Dishes"