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The problem with Calvin Trillin’s famous campaign to replace turkey with spaghetti carbonara as the national Thanksgiving dish is that while turkeys are for it, hardly anyone else is. The poor response may have less to do with a love of Butterballs than with a fear of the gloppy mess that usually passes for carbonara. If only Trillin had picked a less controversial pasta, say orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe, who knows what might have been? Lately, though, things are looking up for Trillin. At Prune, Gabrielle Hamilton’s brunch-only version avoids the biggest pitfall among local carbonara cooks, which is the goopy addition of heavy cream—hers is a magnificently executed by-the-books take on the classic Roman recipe. That’s not to say that the dish holds no room for innovation, which is why we’re giving the nod to Frank Crispo’s slightly jazzed-up version. The concession to the squeamish in the form of a lightly poached (instead of raw) egg may rankle purists, but that doesn’t detract from its superb flavor and silky texture. Nor does a slight gilding of the lily, with three types of ham—prosciutto and regular and smoked pancetta—plus a garnish of frisée to give it a little crunch. Can you say Happy Carbonara Day? .
Best Spaghetti Carbonara
From the 2004 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine
So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).