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Expert Guide

Mario Batali on Essential Pasta Dishes to Master

Spaghetti al Pomodoro

Spaghetti al Pomodoro © Christina Holmes

How can you judge a pasta master? After an Eataly seminar during the Italian cooking conference Identità New York, F&W chatted with Mario Batali, chef Cesare Battisti of Milan's Ratanà restaurant and pasta producer Riccardo Felicetti (of Monograno Felicetti) about their personal tests. Here, they reveal the dishes that show true artistry best.

Cacio e Pepe: “It’s so simple,” says Batali. “There’s really only pasta, cheese and black pepper. So if you understand that and you understand how to balance it to make it creamy and delicious, then you’re on the right path.”

Spaghetti al Pomodoro: “It’s so simple and it’s in the simplicity that you find the small differences,” says Felicetti. “The pasta should not just be a base for the sauce. It should not be covered in sauce—the sauce is just a little part and has to be fully combined with the taste of the pasta.”

Tortellini en Brodo: “If you’re in Bologna and you taste someone’s Tortellini en Brodo, the broth has got to be clean and the tortellini has to have a balanced filling,” says Batali. “You need Mortadella, you need Parmesan, you need nutmeg—but you don’t need a lot of any of those ingredients. It should just be one taste, not a thousand things trying to compete for your attention.”

Rigatoni Con Coda Alla Vaccinara: “This is the classic pasta of Rome,” Battisti says. “The sauce is made with oxtail. For the dish to be perfect there has to be pieces of meat in the sauce and the pasta has to finish cooking in the sauce. It’s one of the highest expressions of Italian dishes.”

Related: Mario Batali's Cooking Bootcamp
Fast Weekday Pasta
Classic Italian Pasta Recipes

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