Bucatini all'Amatriciana with Parmigiano
Chef Jenn Louis makes this version of pasta all'amatriciana with just a few flavor-packed ingredients. She likes to use traditional guanciale (cured pork jowl), which has a robust pork flavor. The sauce is also delicious with milder pancetta.
Spaghetti with Clams and Garlic
"I look forward to going to Sicily for many reasons," says Frank Castronovo of his biannual trip to southern Italy. "One of them is because I'm amazed at how many times Frank [Falcinelli] can order linguine con vongole." Their exquisite, supersimple version is packed with garlic and a judicious amount of crushed red pepper. If you prefer, shell the clams before tossing them with their juices in the pasta.
Pappardelle with Lamb Ragù
Andrew Carmellini serves fresh pappardelle with a ragù of house-ground lamb shoulder cooked in lamb stock. He finishes the dish with fresh ricotta and chopped mint. To simplify the recipe, use store-bought pappardelle, ground lamb and chicken stock, then top the dish with fresh ricotta and mint.
Pasta with Rosemary and Onion-Orange Marmalade
Anna Imparato made this ingeniously simple dish at a luncheon at the Montevetrano winery in Campania in Southern Italy. She tossed her pasta in a sweet-tart onion-orange marmalade made at the estate; in its place, this recipe calls for caramelized onions and store-bought orange marmalade.
Cavatelli with Sardinian Meat Sauce
Frozen cavatelli is better than dried. Since this shape is thick and doughy, the dried version tends to get overcooked on the outside before it's done inside. If you can't find cavatelli in the freezer section of your grocery store, a chunky dried pasta such as rigatoni will also be excellent here. Use the same quantity.
Spinach-and-Ricotta Tortelli with Browned Butter
The pasta for this tortelli (a larger version of tortellini) is extremely silky and supple, which makes it excellent with the creamy ricotta-and-spinach filling. If there's any dough left over, cut it into noodles, as Marco Canora does, then dry it and store it in bags in the refrigerator to have on hand for last-minute dinners.
Ricotta Gnudi with Chanterelles
These tender gnudi, adapted from Nancy Silverton's Mozza Cookbook, are delicious with buttery chanterelles.
The chef at Osteria di San Cesario, Anna Dente, is known as the Queen of Matriciana. She not only makes the pasta and sauce herself, she draws on her family's four decades in the butchering business to make her own guanciale (cured hog jowl)—though the sauce is also fantastic made with pancetta.
Spinach and Ricotta Pappardelle
Lidia Bastianich stuffs homemade ravioli with ricotta, leeks, scallions and spinach, then serves it in a butter-sage sauce. Deconstruct the ravioli by mixing pappardelle with all the ingredients in the filling (except the labor-intensive leeks).
Crespelle with Ricotta and Marinara
In this recipe, adapted from Wine Bar Food by Tony Mantuano and his wife, Cathy, lush ricotta-filled crêpes bake in a rich marinara sauce.
Spaghetti with Bottarga and Almond Bread Crumbs
When Piero traveled to the Italian island of Pantelleria, he discovered pasta and capers topped with crushed toasted almonds and bread crumbs. "I thought the almond bread crumbs would be really cool to add to a bottarga dish," he says. Bottarga is cured roe from either mullet (which is slightly waxy and mildly fishy) or tuna (which has a pronounced anchovy flavor); it's sold at specialty food stores.
Celery Root and Mushroom Lasagna
"In Marche, we only make lasagna for special occasions like Christmas," Fabio Trabocchi says. For this streamlined version of his luxe lasagna in bianco (white lasagna), he layers flat noodles with a supremely rich sauce, along with a root-vegetable ragù, fresh mozzarella and whole basil leaves.
Beef Brasato with Pappardelle and Mint
At Incanto, chef Chris Cosentino braises beef shank and oxtail in red wine to make a brasato he serves with house-made mint pappardelle. Instead of oxtail, the dish uses just beef shank. Fresh pappardelle from a store replaces the house-made kind.
Spaghetti with Fresh Soppressata
One of the most popular cured meats on restaurant charcuterie boards, soppressata is a hard salami from southern Italy. Andrew Carmellini's family grinds their own meat to make it, but much easier is buying Italian sausages and removing their casings. To give the fresh soppressata extra spice, use hot sausages instead of sweet ones, or increase the amount of crushed red pepper.
Cauliflower and Crab Ravioli
These impressive supersized ravioli are constructed with large rectangles of homemade pasta that are dotted with whole parsley leaves and filled with the unexpectedly alluring combination of crab and cauliflower.
Pappardelle with Smoked Butter and Herbs
In his gorgeous In.gredienti cookbook, Massimiliano Alajmo includes a dish called "pasta butter and smoke," made with smoked pasta and smoked butter and served with smoked hen broth. In this much-simplified version, the smoky flavor is all in the butter; it's mixed with cheese and chopped fresh herbs to make a rich sauce for silky pappardelle.
Cavatelli with Spicy Winter Squash
"This pasta," Mario Batali says, "always propels me into fall." You can substitute pumpkin or hubbard squash—whichever looks more beautiful at your market—for the butternut. "Cook the squash until it's soft but not falling apart—you don't want al dente squash, but you don't want mush either," Batali says.
Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe
Pasta cacio e pepe ("cheese and pepper") is made with Pecorino Romano, a tangy aged sheep's-milk cheese originally from Rome, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. In Lazio, chef Antonio Ciminelli of Osteria Fontana Candida serves an elegant version with short pasta on the menu, and a rustic one with spaghetti for staff.
Spaghetti with Artichokes and Pancetta
"Artichokes don't have to start a fight with wine," says Mario Batali. He sautés sliced artichokes with lardo (cured pork fat) or pancetta, then tosses them with spaghetti.
Pasta with Robiola and Truffles
This indulgent first course marries three of Italy's best ingredients: egg pasta, winter truffles and Robiola Rocchetta, a creamy cheese from northern Italy, which forms the base for an incredibly rich sauce.
Trofie Pasta with Cockles, Chiles and Black Bean Sauce
Ken Vedrinski discovered the hand-coiled pasta called trofie and the super-minerally white-wine Vermentino while traveling in Liguria.
Spaghetti with Anchovy Carbonara
Chris Cosentino adds briny flavor to his pasta with cured tuna heart. He shaves it on right before serving. This simplified recipe calls for anchovies, rather than the tuna heart Cosentino uses. Egg yolks form a silky sauce.
Potato Gnocchi with Garlic Butter, Mushrooms and Snails
At The Modern in New York City, chef Gabriel Kreuther makes gnocchi using fromage blanc, a fresh French cheese that creates a light texture and lovely tang; sour cream is a fine replacement. Snails add an earthy flavor to the dish (though the recipe is also delicious without them).