The Best Pasta In NYCFew things are going to make you as happy as a bowl of perfectly prepared carbohydrates.
With so many Italian restaurants in the city, you might take it for granted that you can get a decent bowl of pasta just as easily as a box of Barilla. But you can also find bowls of perfect cacio e pepe and handmade agnolotti that you’ll think about at least once a week. These 12 spots are the gold standard when it comes to pasta in NYC, and they’ll have you giving your boxed fusilli pep talks about reaching its full potential.
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photo credit: Andy Matias
If you don't have a reservation at this intimate West Village Tuscan spot, you better show up at 4:30pm (or don't bother coming at all). We encourage you to try dishes from every section of their menu, but people flock here mainly for the pastas. Get the flawless cacio e pepe and meaty, many-layered lasagne for the table. As for the rich and peppery pappardelle al limone with thick and chewy ribbons of housemade pasta, order that for yourself. You won't want to share it.
If you've gone through the trouble to get a reservation at Lilia, you should be building your order around the concept of eating as much pasta as possible. The mafaldini with pink peppercorns is one of the most exciting, refreshing pastas in Brooklyn, but you really can't go wrong with anything from this section of the menu. The pastas are made in-house and accented with wood-fired meats and extremely good cheese.
You won’t have to decide whether you’re going to eat pasta at Misi. The menu at this Williamsburg restaurant (from the people behind Lilia) only has three sections: vegetables, pasta, and gelato. Our advice is to prioritize the simple, not-too-saucy pastas like the cacio e pepe-esque fettuccine or the tortelli with brown butter. They do buttery, cheesy pastas particularly well, and both of those plates are on par with the pastas at Lilia. Misi is straightforward to begin with, and their best work keeps things almost ridiculously simple.
You might not come to Marea only to eat pasta, since they do some solid crudos and have a swanky dining room that works for any special occasions. But you are coming to Marea to eat the octopus-and-bone-marrow fusilli. It's one of our favorite pastas in the city, with perfectly al dente fusilli, tender octopus, and a shower of extra garlicky breadcrumbs. Most of the pastas here are centered around seafood, like the gnocchetti with shrimp and rosemary oil and squid ink mezzaluna with chunks of lobster, so definitely focus your attention there.
If Manhattan West wants to graduate beyond its status as a “fake neighborhood,” being home to one of the city’s best pasta destinations is certainly helpful. Every single one of the pastas at this sprawling Union Square Hospitality restaurant is worth ordering. A couple standouts are the lobster cavatelli and the creamy ricotta-filled agnolotti with rapini, but the pasta our minds spontaneously wander towards when it’s cold is the hearty stracci. It’s got tons of shredded rabbit that seems like it’s been braised for days.
The pasta at this low-key West Village restaurant is better than what you’ll get at 95% of the Italian restaurants in NYC, and you can eat it in a relaxed atmosphere in your comfiest T-shirt. Everything is handmade and built around seasonal ingredients. In the past, we’ve had a bucatini with a surprising ‘nudja kick and a sweet corn and truffle agnolotti that renewed our faith in truffles. Since the menu changes often, you’ll want to become a regular.
photo credit: Emily Schindler
At Nonna Dora’s, the real-life Nonna Dora comes into her namesake restaurant to make fresh pasta every morning. Surprisingly, there aren’t many Italian restaurants in New York City that focus solely on handmade pasta, so keep a one-track mind here. You'll see many people order an extra pasta to share instead of an appetizer. This is the move, and we suggest getting the slab of Dora’s lasagna to split. The tissue paper layers of pasta are delicate enough for you to save room for the squid ink special or silky beet-filled casoncelli.
There are about a million places in NYC to have a bowl of pasta at the bar, but there are a few reasons why you should skip most of them and head to Forsythia. The LES Roman spot has a constantly changing menu, with stuffed shapes like agnolotti with braised short rib, a very good and classic carbonara, and plenty of specials like pici with anchovy butter and tagliatelle with crab and chili. Order as many of these as you can rationalize—we usually end up getting three.
If the thought of sitting through another predictable mid-range sushi omakase makes you feel bored, a visit to The Oval at La Devozione might be in order. This Chelsea Market pasta bar serves a pasta tasting menu that’s prepared inches away from where you sit. Your options are a seven-course dinner tasting and a four-course lunch. All of the pasta is cooked perfectly, from the deceptively simple spaghetti to a vermicelli prepared cacio e pepe-style. This makes sense, given that the owners also run Pastifico di Martino, which has been making pasta since 1912.
If you go to Supper, there should be pasta on your table. Maybe you're the type who plans their visits around the weekly specials, like the silk handkerchief in pesto that’s only available on Thursdays, or maybe you’re loyal to the simple-but-flawless spaghetti al limone or the cheeky “priest stranglers.” Whatever you order at this classic cash-only spot in Alphabet City is going to be good, and you’re going to have a fun time while you eat it.
The chef at this upscale Italian restaurant in Flatiron used to work at Osteria Francescana, one of the world’s most famous restaurants, and all of his pastas reference the region where it’s located, Emilia-Romagna. Each pasta includes ingredients common there, like prosciutto in the anolini, black truffles covering the huge ravioli, and two types of intensely rich ragu. Go ahead and get two pastas per person—whatever you choose will be excellent.
Both locations of Fiaschetteria pistoia have a hole-in-the-wall quality that feels like the best version of rustic Italian charm that New York can give you. It also helps that the owners own another restaurant in Tuscany, and that they brought their traditional pasta-making skills with them. Pastas are made fresh to order and cooked perfectly al dente, and everything from the tagliatelle al tartufo to the parpadelle ragu will be the best pasta you’ve had in a while. The spaghetti con bottarga becomes a particularly potent combination as the butter and salted fish sink deeper into the chewy egg noodles.