Gallery: 8 Pasta Dishes We Love in Chicago

Cavatelli al Forno at Cafe Bionda
Cavatelli al Forno at Cafe Bionda
"The cavatelli al forno, a special available on Tuesdays, took the prize for heartiest dish and best noodles. As the name suggests, the red-sauce-tossed pasta is oven-baked in its bowl, so the blanket of cheese on top can get all melty...The cavatelli are great—robust, a touch doughy, and exceedingly comforting." Read more here >>

Cafe Bionda, 1924 South State Street, Chicago, IL 60616 (map); 312-326-9800; cafebionda.com

Monday Lasagna at Club Lago
Monday Lasagna at Club Lago
"The lasagna, a weekly special available on Mondays, also has a wonderful throwback quality to its presentation and execution: balanced on a thick oval plate stands a tall stack of swollen, fluffy, wavy noodles punctuated by a delicate stuffing of milky ricotta and juicy ground meat. A generous helping of an intriguing, meat-studded substance—rich, savory, slow-cooked, and ruddy-toned—had been lovingly spread across the multi-story architecture and its surroundings." Read more here >>

Club Lago, 331 West Superior Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (map); 312-951-2849; clublago.com

Riccio di Mare e Granchio at Davanti Enoteca
Riccio di Mare e Granchio at Davanti Enoteca
"The nest of tender linguini came impeccably dressed, with each strand lightly lacquered in a urchin-tinged sauce that elegantly married rich butter and docile surf. While the kitchen wasn't especially generous with the crab meat, there was no lack of flavor. Thin wisps of green onion helped every now and then with a bit of fresh, sharp flavor." Read more here >>

Davanti Enoteca, 1359 West Taylor Street, Chicago, IL 60607 (map); 312-226-5550; davantichicago.com

Ricotta Cavatelli at Osteria Via Stato
Ricotta Cavatelli at Osteria Via Stato
"Chef David DiGregorio's ricotta cavatelli with wild mushrooms has definitely earned a place in my pantheon of Italian noodles in Chicago. It pairs hearty, rustic pasta with chunks of tender wild mushrooms--certainly not the most handsome plate of pasta at the restaurant, but luckily it has a killer personality--not to mention the benefit of the restaurant's romantic low lighting. The noodles arrive slightly pan-seared, which lends them a contrasting chewy-crunchy texture and a starchy-smoky-caramelized flavor." Read more here >>

Osteria Via Stato, 620 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60610 (map); 312-642-8450; osteriaviastato.com/

Tortelli at Piccolo Sogno Due
Tortelli at Piccolo Sogno Due
"The tortelli are stuffed with parmesan and ricotta, pistachios replace pine nuts, and a drizzle of housemade saba in lieu of the wine glaze. If the filling favors one cheese, it's the ricotta—surely a deliberate choice to flaunt its textural heroics. It's so fluffy and gentle on the palate, I'd happily swim laps in the stuff. Then there are chef Todd Stein's pistachios, which are are better than yours and mine." Read more here >>

Piccolo Sogno Due, 340 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (map); 312-822-0077; piccolosognodue.com

Spaghetti Carbonara at Riccardo Trattoria
Spaghetti Carbonara at Riccardo Trattoria
"Tender strands of pasta come dressed in a rich sauce of bacon, egg yolk, and pecorino cheese. I could really geek out here on the finer points of noodle texture, sauce viscosity and adhesion, and ingredient-driven seasoning management, but that kind of tech talk seems too architectural when what we have here is art on the plate." Read more here >>

Riccardo Trattoria, 2119 North Clark Street Chicago, IL 60614 (map); 773-549-0038; riccardotrattoria.com

Linguini with Ragu of Wild Casco Cod at Trattoria Ultimo
Linguini with Ragu of Wild Casco Cod at Trattoria Ultimo
"When the plate arrived, I inhaled a heady aroma of seafood and basil. The nest of linguini noodles, generous in size, had been dressed in a sauce the color of late-afternoon sun. There was no need to go searching for the wild-caught cod; juicy chunks of fish were tucked in everywhere throughout the tangle of linguini. The noodles were carefully cooked to a plump, enjoyable consistency." Read more here >>

Trattoria Ultimo, 1953 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622 (map); 312-243-6343

Tagliolini Neri at Coco Pazzo
Tagliolini Neri at Coco Pazzo
"The tagliolini neri—a squid-ink pasta served with crab, leeks, cherry tomatoes, breadcrumbs, and chile oil--were perfectly cooked, showing that a thicker pasta noodle can be hearty without being heavy. The unmistakable perfume of fresh crab along with the heat from the chile oil added both depth and brightness to this delicious and complex dish." Read more here >>

Coco Pazzo, 300 West Hubbard Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (map); 312-836-0900; cocopazzochicago.com