Knockout Noodles

Reviews of noodle dishes.

Behind the Scenes of Spiaggia's Pasta Tasting Menu Series

Slideshow SLIDESHOW: Behind the Scenes of Spiaggia's Pasta Tasting Menu Series

[Photographs: Roger Kamholz]

A few weeks ago, Spiaggia announced a new tasting menu series that would last all year long. For the nearly 29-year-old Italian restaurant, which has presented a long list of tasting menus over the years organized around all sorts of themes, this new series would mark a first. There would be four different menus in all over the balance of 2013, each tied to the changes in season and each featuring pasta in every course. That's right, for the first time in Spiaggia's history it would serve a tasting menu where each course would include some form of pasta. The first of these menus, offered now through the end of March, highlights filled pastas, a theme that the kitchen staff explored broadly and with a great deal of creativity that led to some very novel interpretations.

I was fortunate enough to be invited by the Spiaggia team to come see how they developed and how are preparing and presenting the filled pasta tasting menu. Chef di Cucina Chris Marchino sat down with me and talked through the menu, before we headed into the kitchen so I could observe how the first three of the menu's six courses are completed on the line. Then I had the pleasure to try them all—an epic experience to say the least for anyone who calls himself a noodle lover.

Check out the slideshow for a look at the entire filled pasta tasting menu ($95). It's also available with a $55 wine pairing set by Sommelier Jason Carlen, with highlights including a 100 percent Cannonau from Sardinia that complements the Sardinia-focused fifth course, or a $45 pairing of specially made cocktails. Each one was tailor-made for the food it's paired with: a bubbly number featuring Vergano moscato chinato, grapefruit bitters, pomelo juice, and prosecco goes with the caviar-centric course one; and a cocktail of Hudson Bourbon, Los Danzantes blanco mezcal, kumquat jam, and ginger ale pairs with course two.

Spiaggia will follow up the current offering with "Reinventing the Classics," from to April to June; "Coastal Pastas of Italy," from July to September; and "Edible Earth," touted as "an exploration of grains, mono-floral Mieli Thun honeys and their edible flowers," from October to December. "It's exciting to work on them," Marchino said of the new tasting menu series, "and we hope that the same people who come and try this menu will say, 'I want to come back and try that one.' It's really cool."

Spiaggia

980 North Michigan Avenue, Level 2, Chicago, IL 60611 (map)
312-280-2750
spiaggiarestaurant.com

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