Five Must-Try Classic Italian Pasta Dishes


Five Must-Try Classic Italian Pasta Dishes

(Source: Salute Trattoria Italiana Facebook Page)

Pasta is a thing of beauty. It’s responsible for so much good in the world: delight, nourishment, and possibly even good looks. It’s true: when asked about the secret behind her dazzling beauty, actress Sophia Loren famously said, “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti”.  As if you needed another reason to eat pasta!

At Salute, we really, really love pasta. To share our love of linguine, our fanaticism of fettuccine, and our passion for pasta, we’d like to introduce you to what we consider five must-try classic Italian Pasta dishes from our menu. How many of these classics have you tried?

Bolognese: If you’re looking for a hearty and satisfying meal, go for pasta Bolognese. The heart of this dish is what’s on top: Bolognese sauce, also known as ragù alla bolognese or just  ragù. It’s a meat-based sauce which starts by sautéing aromatics, then adding meat, often beef or pork, though this can differ from chef to chef.

Once the meat has been briefly seared (but not cooked through), tomatoes or tomato sauce and red wine are added, and the mixture is slow cooked to render the meat incredibly tender and to allow the sauce to thicken and the flavors to intensify.

This thick sauce works best with broad, flat pasta shapes; a dainty pasta like angel hair simply wouldn’t hold up to this hearty topping. At Salute, our Bolognese is made with a veal, pork and beef ragu, served with tagliatelle, a flat, thick, ribbon-like pasta, and topped with shaved parmigiano.

Las Vegas Italian Restaurants

(Source: Salute Trattoria Italiana Facebook Page)

Cacio e pepe: This is a classic Roman dish, but still relatively little-known in the United States. It’s a simple recipe, but it acts as proof positive that sometimes the simplest foods can be the most exquisite, particularly when prepared well and with quality ingredients.

Cacio e pepe translates as “cheese and pepper”, and these two simple ingredients are the heart and soul of this comforting dish. While methods can vary, they’ll typically follow this trajectory: pasta is cooked and drained. Then, the pasta is combined with sharp, salty Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly ground pepper, butter, to form a creamy, insanely flavorful finished dish. Sometimes a bit of the water from cooking the pasta is reserved, and the starchy water is employed to thicken the sauce. This dish is pure comfort for the palate and soul. One of the Salute signature pastas, our version of cacio e pepe is made with a Roman style pepper and cheese sauce, and served table side in a pecorino cheese wheel.

Las Vegas Italian Restaurants

(Source: Salute Trattoria Italiana)

Frutti di mare: The inimitable seafood pasta dish known as frutti di mare translates as “fruit of the sea”. If that name seems odd, let’s clarify: it refers to “fruit” as in the bounty of the sea, in the same way that one might refer to the “fruit of one’s labor”. It’s a popular dish along the coasts of Italy.

Frutti di mare is one of those dishes that can differ quite a bit depending on the chef’s preference and what seafood happens to be on hand. Typically, this pasta dish features the freshest seafood available, and might include mussels, shrimp, shellfish, scallops, and/or clams. The seafood is tossed with pasta and tomato sauce and flavored with aromatics and spices. At Salute, seafood lovers only need apply for this unique taste experience: our version features features clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops, fresh fish, and calamari, tossed with garlic, calabrese chilies, and tomato. We serve ours over tagliolini, a type of pasta which is similar to tagliatelle but thinner and a bit more delicate.

Pasta al pomodoro: Also referred to simply as “pomodoro”, this is a classic Italian dish hailing from the Tuscany region. Pomodoro translates as tomato, which is the key ingredient in this light and fresh pasta dish. Pasta al pomodoro starts with pasta which is boiled and drained, then tossed with olive oil, fresh tomatoes, basil, and other spices or ingredients of the chef’s choosing. It’s quick and light and simple, yet as discussed with cacio e pepe above, the use of high quality ingredients and care with the pasta’s preparation have the power to elevate this dish to utterly exquisite territory.

As with any minimal-ingredient dish, pomodoro will truly only taste as good as the quality of the ingredients employed; since every flavor stands out, it’s important to use the best. The tomatoes in particular of high importance: at Salute, we use San Marzano tomatoes, which are thinner than a Roma tomato, and contain less seeds. The flavor is strong, sweet, and has relatively low acidity, which helps keep the dish balanced. These high quality tomatoes are accompanied by fresh basil, and a robust, salty-savory locatelli pecorino.

With all of these flavors coming together with the carbohydrate comfort of pasta, you’ll find it easy to fall in love with this classic dish.

Las Vegas Italian Restaurants

(Source: Salute Trattoria Italiana)

Spaghetti alle vongole: The name of this dish translates as “spaghetti with clams”, and that’s pretty much the essence of this dish. While spaghetti alle vongole is most strongly considered a Neapolitan tradition, its popularity has spread, and these days, it is enjoyed throughout Italy and beyond.

Typically, to make this dish, live clams are briefly cooked in garlic-infused olive oil. The heat causes the shells to open, at which point the clams release a liquid which acts as a broth and a flavoring to the pasta–often spaghetti or linguine–to which they are added and then seasoned. At Salute, our spaghetti alle vongole is made with sautéed clams, garlic, parsley, basil and tomatoes

Wasn’t that a delicious tour de pasta? We’ve certainly worked up an appetite, and hope you have, too. If you haven’t tried these classic pasta dishes, then it’s time to expand your culinary horizons. Salute is one of the premier Las Vegas Italian restaurants where you can sample these five must-try classic Italian pasta dishes.

What’s your favorite pasta dish?