Sad? Happy? Bored? Hungry? When is pasta not the answer? In the Glam office, we’re constantly on a carb hunt. With that in mind, here’s the best of the best. The creme de la creme. The pasta dishes we just cant (read; won’t) stop talking about.
1. Osteria Oggi: Tagliatelle Al Granchio.
It’s not just that everyone who works here seems plucked directly from a destination slightly fancier than Adelaide. Or the impeccable service, which anticipates your needs before you even know you have them. Or even the glamorous trattoria-for-rich-people fit out. It is, of course, the food at Oggi that keeps us coming back. One dish we can’t help but always order is the crab pasta; at once light and indulgent, with a hint of citrus staving off any carb-induced lethargy.
2. Nido: Casarecce, Braised Cima Di Rapè, Anchovy, Chilli, Garlic
Thanks to the ever affable Tess Skullan, this is another venue in the Kardashi-empire where the service almost trumps the food. Luckily, the deft hands in the kitchen match the on-floor enthusiasm, combining to create an experience you just can’t stop talking about. Of course you’ll get that life-affirming puffy bread with whipped ricotta to start, and then we recommend the salty, spicy satisfaction of Nido’s casarecce with braised greens, anchovy and garlic.
3. Coccobello: Tortellini Bolognese
For when you can’t decide between filled or tossed pasta, Coccobello have put tortellini and bolognese together at last! Plump tortellini come stuffed with veal and prosciutto under a blanket of bolognese. All the meat, all the carbs, all in one handy location.
4. Midnight Spaghetti: Midnight Spaghetti, anchovy, olive, chilli, pangratatto
This salty, punch in the face has long been a staple staffie or late night go-to for the glassies, cooks and waitstaff here. Midnight Spaghetti’s namesake dish is as comforting as it is interesting, thanks to the clever balance of flavours elevating this humble peasant dish to something that’s more than the sum of its parts.
5. Ruby Red Flamingo: Gnocchi
You’ll find Ruby Red in ritzy North Adelaide, it’s white marquees and flamboyant signage evoking the feeling of a circus rather than a restaurant. The menu charms as much as the decor, and we especially like the veggie gnocchi options. The first is a simple Napoli version with tomato, basil and parmesan; the second, richer option, comes with gorgonzola, baby spinach (for health), pine nuts & parmesan. Both are classics in their own right.
6. Chianti: Spaghetti nero, Blue Swimmer crab, roast tomato, basil, chilli
One of the oldest Italian restaurants in the city, Chianti is consistently staffed by the heavy hitters of Adelaide’s hospo scene. That’s why, 35 years on, the kitchen stays true to its roots, cooking to time honoured recipes, the same way they’ve been doing since 1985 – the white tablecloths wearing spaghetti sauce battle scars at the end of every service. All the dishes are excellent, but we particularly love the crab spaghetti: long black stands of pasta tangled round meaty chunks of crab, bound by the briefest, roast tomato sauce.
7. Aces Pizza and Liquor: Capellini golden century
Like KFC-regret, this mega-rich dish will have you feeling pretty sorry for yourself afterwards. But every time we find ourselves in Ace’s old-school American-Italian dining room, we just can’t go past the golden century pasta. It’s a whopper: al dente pasta, plump prawns and a moat of garlic butter all topped with a parmesan flurry. Almost too much to handle… Almost.
8. Lucia’s Pizza and Spaghetti Bar: Alla Panna
With a fit out and menu both so daggy they’re perfect, we — and the rest of Adelaide — simply can’t get enough of Lucia’s. The rickety wooden tables at this market stalwart are packed every day for good reason. It’s hard to go wrong, but we’re suckers for the alla panna, which makes a very solid case for cream-based sauces. You choose your pasta here, and we recommend gnocchi; just the thing to tip you over the edge into an afternoon nap.
9. Nano: Any of the daily changing pasta specials
Nano is one of those rare daytime joints that consistently underpromises and overdelivers. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, all faded striped sunshades and coffee served in standard-issue white cups; the owners seemingly unaware of the lumpy, handmade ceramics that have become ubiquitous in other cafes around town. In spite of all of that, the lunchtime pasta specials are the business. Whether little ears of orecchiette tumbling over nuggets of saline anchovy, or spaghetti tangled amongst lardons of bacon and summer-ripe tomatoes, Nano epitomises unpretentious dining.
10. Amalfi: Fettuccini Amalfi
We’re not entirely sure why Amalfi puts chilli in this dish — what is essentially a bastardised carbonara — but if you’ve already tinkered with a classic, why not go the whole way? Amalfi serve delightfully dated Italian food, and they’re hardly going to win any awards for authenticity, but you always know what you’re getting. From the little parsley garnish on every dish, to the battered wooden tables, all that’s missing is candles in chianti bottles.
11. Borsa: Lasagne di casa
Handmade pasta is a specialty here, and it’s made fresh every day. It’s something the owners are religious about. That, and their commitment to using only the best SA and Italian ingredients, which all manifest in the quality of the finished product. What’s not to love about Borsa’s intricate lasagne layered with two (two!) types of meat — pork and veal — sumptuous bechamel and earthy mushrooms.