Our five favorite places to eat pasta include choices that are old standards, a family-friendly lunch option, something new and even pasta that you prepare at home. While they differ in some ways, they share the chewy, satisfaction that can only come from a celebration of carbs!
Gravy, the Italian entry from Empire Eats, the people behind Sitti, The Pit and Raleigh Times, does not disappoint with its menu of classics. Their lasagna, baked ziti and spaghetti and meatballs set the standard for fresh and true. Even the name of the restaurant is the word Italian grandmas use for red sauce.
Like many new-ish places,Gravy cites local sourcing and entree options that change daily. That is all well and good, but it can't replace the comfort of the "Family Gravy" – pasta, meatballs, sausage, short ribs gravy and ricotta.
For a big date or fancy dinner before a night out, you can't beat Caffe Luna on East Hargett Street. The restaurant's golden-lit, art-filled interior is treat for the eyes, and their party room is a favorite for weddings.
The menu is branded as "Tuscan," and Luna does not stint on high-end ingredients. I love both pasta and seafood, so for me, the Linguini al Granchio (crab in garlic, olive oil and tomato) or Fantasia di Mare (black pasta with grouper and shrimp in a similar sauce) are decadence defined.
518 West, at the edge of Glenwood South in Raleigh, has long been a favorite for the professional lunch crowd. Their pasta is made in-house daily and available in whole wheat and gluten-free varieties as well.
It is not faint praise to say that while one dish does not stand out at 518 West, I've yet to meet anyone who's had a bad meal there.
On the other side of the Triangle, Meelo's draws regulars in Durham for a full compliment of pasta selections. From sausage and peppers with penne to carbonara and pesto, family-owned Meelo's has a pasta dish to suit all cravings. This is the kind of place we seek for Five Faves – one that is not much to look at or widely advertised but where repeat customers heap on the praise.
My final pasta favorite is found not in a restaurant but at the farmers market. Melina's frequents both the Western Wake and Midtown (North Hills) farmers markets to sell fresh ravioli, cut pasta and gnocchi. Their roving schedule is available at online.
Take it home, drop it in the pot, and I guarantee you will be pleased.