10 bowls of pasta to try right now

Not all noodles are created equal in Boston.

Spaghetti and meatballs at Tony & Elaine's.

There’s little that satisfies a craving for carbs quite like a bowl of pasta. A twirl of linguine can feel almost therapeutic, and in a city where Italian restaurants reign, there’s no shortage of spaghetti swimming in marinara. Whether you’ve just finished a grueling marathon or are looking for a new noodle dish to try, these 10 bowls of pasta in the Boston area are pure perfection.

Housemade farro conchiglie pasta at Craigie on Main’s COMB
At the end of 2018, Cambridge mainstay Craigie on Main celebrated 10 years of exceptional cooking (and that famous burger). Then they promptly switched it up. In January, the bar was renamed COMB (Craigie on Main Bar) and started offering an à la carte menu that served as a casual counterpart to the main dining room’s prix-fixe menu. In addition to the 18 Craigie burgers that are made daily, the bar also serves a house-made farro conchiglie pasta (there’s no limit to how many come out of the kitchen). The shells are tossed in a hearty ragout made with venison, bacon, and mushroom, and slivers of paper-thin Benton’s ham top the comforting entrée. (853 Main St., Cambridge)

Tagliatelle bolognese at Fox & the Knife
Tagliatelle bolognese at Fox & the Knife. —Brian Samuels
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Tagliatelle bolognese at Fox & the Knife
Chef Karen Akunowicz’s new enoteca, Fox & the Knife, doesn’t seem to have a bad pasta dish on the menu. But to really get a sense of the wizardry that Akunowicz accomplishes with noodles at her first restaurant, you’ll need to order the tagliatelle bolognese, which happens to be the restaurant’s most popular dish. A tangle of homemade tagliatelle arrives in a balanced, deeply aromatic sauce of wild boar, thyme, and parmesan cheese. Though many bolognese sauces are on the heavier side, this one is deceptively light — so light, in fact, that Akunowicz told Boston.com that one customer immediately ordered another bowl after devouring the first. (28 W. Broadway, Boston)

Maine crab carbonara at Hush at Wink & Nod
Wink & Nod has established itself as an incubator of sorts, inviting chefs to experiment with their own culinary concepts within the South End restaurant and bar. The latest to set up shop is chef David Daniels, who launched his modern American pop-up Hush on Monday. Among the menu’s playful dishes — foie gras popsicles, black truffle chicken nuggets — is a savory Maine crab carbonara that uses thick bucatini noodles, torched crab, and a cured egg yolk, a plate that can be ordered as a smaller individual portion or a larger shared dish. Pair it with one of Wink & Nod’s fantastic cocktails, like the rye-based Roots Radical. (3 Appleton St., Boston)

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Lobster scampi at MIDA
One of MIDA’s most popular pasta options is the lobster scampi, and for good reason: The South End restaurant’s seafood dish is a sizable portion of linguine (gluten-free pasta is available as well) dressed in a creamy mascarpone sauce, fresh basil, and chunks of fresh lobster. If you finish your plate and think, ‘I could have another one of those,’ you might want to come back on Mangia Pasta Mondays, when MIDA offers $35 all-you-can-eat pasta, salad, and bread. (782 Tremont St., Boston)

Lumache at Pammy's
Lumache at Pammy’s. —Natasha Moustache

Lumache at Pammy’s
Pammy’s opened in Cambridge in the summer of 2017, and the lumache — which means ‘snails’ in Italian, an accurate description of the noodle’s snail shell shape — has been on the menu since day one. It’s a good thing, too. What makes this bowl of bolognese stand out (aside from chef/owner Chris Willis milling the flour in-house to create the pasta) is the addition of gochujang, a sweet and spicy Korean chili paste that gives a welcome layer of heat and umami to the dish. (928 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge)

Linguini with sardines at Scampo
One of the latest pastas to hit the menu at Scampo is inspired by chef Lydia Shire’s travels through Europe and the canned sardines and red peppers she would eat on top of bruschetta. At the Liberty Hotel restaurant, linguine is tossed with yellow raisins, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, and Beach Cliff sardines, which also arrive in a tin that accompanies the pasta. It’s all topped with a whole sardine fillet, bread crumbs, and parsley, and acts as a delicious gateway into the tinned fish trend. (215 Charles St., Boston)

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Strozzapreti at Sportello
Strozzapreti is an unusually shaped pasta, a short, bean sprout-esque noodle that chef Barbara Lynch uses at her Italian restaurant, Sportello. The dish is one of her favorites, made with braised rabbit, picholine olives, and rosemary, all cooked in rabbit stock. An equally enticing reason to visit Sportello: The restaurant recently debuted a new six-seat, aperitivo bar. While you wait for your strozzapreti to arrive, order an Aperol spritz or negroni. (348 Congress St., Boston)

Gnudi at SRV
Ricotta gnudi at SRV. —SRV

Ricotta gnudi at SRV
The South End Venetian restaurant’s spring menu just dropped, and with it came a bevy of new pasta dishes. Standing out among the pack is the ricotta gnudi, a dish that employs dumpling-like balls of ricotta mixed with parmigiano and pecorino cheeses, flour, and egg yolk, which are then cured in semolina. Served in a sauce of garlic and butter, the gnudi are topped with a rhubarb jam made with an earthy combination of rhubarb, chamomile and rose tea, black pepper, and lemon. If you dine here on the first Wednesday of the month, make sure to visit between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. for SRV’s monthly cicchetti takeovers, when a guest chef offers small snacks gratis at the bar. (569 Columbus Ave., Boston)

Spaghetti and meatballs at Tony & Elaine’s
The North End is filled with great pasta, and to highlight a dish as simple as spaghetti and meatballs seems almost sacrilegious. But the recently opened Tony & Elaine’s has distilled the humble dish into its purest parts: phenomenal homemade spaghetti, award-winning meatballs, and a sauce that carries the perfect amount of both sweetness and heat. With its red and white-checkered tablecloths and Chianti bottles wrapped in straw, the restaurant channels some serious “Lady and the Tramp” vibes, though we doubt you’re going to want to share this bowl of spaghetti with anyone else. (111 N. Washington St., Boston)

Tagliatelle al Tartufo at Tuscan Kitchen
Tagliatelle al tartufo at Tuscan Kitchen. —Tuscan Kitchen

Tagliatelle al tartufo at Tuscan Kitchen
There’s something incredibly luxurious about tableside service, whether it’s a Caesar salad tossed under your hungry gaze or a cheese cart wheeled to the edge of the table. At Tuscan Kitchen, an Italian restaurant in the Seaport, a giant cheese wheel is the main tableside attraction, serving as a receptacle in which warm tagliatelle noodles are tossed with melting parmesan and topped with shavings of black truffles. Yes, it’s a dish that attracts plenty of Instagram attention, but it’s also creamy, earthy, and downright delicious. (64 Seaport Blvd., Boston)

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