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Pasta Paradise

Here’s the best of the basics.

  • Spaghetti and Meatballs

  • Mia Dona

    206 E. 58th St., nr. Third Ave.; 212-750-8170

    Michael Psilakis, a proven meatball master, has taken the logical next step: introducing these soft and airy orbs to a bowl of spaghetti.

  • Spaghetti al Pomodoro

  • Scarpetta

    355 W. 14th St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-691-0555

    As widely celebrated as Scott Conant’s signature is, it’s not without its critics—or make that critic—namely a blogger named Giorgio Armani, which only proves you can’t believe everything you read online.

  • Bargain Penne

  • Capri Caffé

    165 Church St., nr. Chambers St.; 212-513-1358

    What makes this $7.50 plate of penne such a bargain is the sweet cherry tomatoes imported from Capri, and the kitchen’s knack for never overcooking the pasta.

  • Cavatelli

  • Centovini

    25 W. Houston, nr. Greene St.; 212-219-2113

    They serve Mamma Dora Marzovilla’s exquisitely textured handmade dumplings here in the classic Apulian way, with broccoli rabe.

  • Linguine with Clams

  • Del Posto

    85 Tenth Ave., nr. 16th St.; 212-497-8090

    Locavores, avert your gaze: The secret is the singular vongole verace overnighted from the Veneto with a brief layover in Holland to skirt a pesky customs regulation.

  • Maccheroni Carbonara

  • Convivio

    45 Tudor Pl., at 42nd St.; 212-599-5045

    Where some carbonaras are frighteningly gloppy, this modern interpretation is smooth as silk thanks to an unusual chicken-stock-enhanced pecorina fonduta.

  • Lasagne

  • Teodora

    141 E. 57th St., nr. Lexington Ave.; 212-826-7101

    The classic Emilia-Romagna version: an orderly stack of skinny pasta sheets fortified with a rich ragù alla Bolognese and judicious lashings of Parmigiano-Reggiano throughout.

  • Gnocchi

  • Esca

    402 W. 43rd St., at Ninth Ave.; 212-564-7272

    Maybe the last thing you’d expect to find at a fancy fish house: delicate sheep’s-milk gnocchi in a vibrant tomato sauce. Neglect them at your own peril.

  • Gnudi

  • Insieme

    777 Seventh Ave., at 51st St.; 212-582-1310

    Marco Canora’s gnocchi are legend; his featherlight Swiss-chard gnudi (pictured), afloat in a Parmesan broth, might be even better.

From the 2009 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine