The Best Pasta Dishes In The US, According To Tasting Table Staff

Good pasta comes in all shapes and sizes. From rigatoni to ravioli, the simplest aglio e olio to the heartiest ragu alla Bolognese, its flavors, textures, and presentations are endless and call to mind culinary traditions and techniques that are hundreds of years old. Of course, nothing beats your Nonna's home cooking, but when she's not around to help out in the kitchen, go ahead and let the pros do the work, whether that's at your local mom-and-pop red sauce joint or a Michelin-starred trattoria. And just in case a trip to Italy isn't in the cards, just remember that truly delectable pasta dishes can be made just about anywhere — and there are plenty of places stateside that prove it. 

With that in mind, we set out on a hunt for the most delicious, awe-inspiring, nostalgia-inducing pasta dishes on the American map. Fortunately, the Tasting Table staff is made up of pasta lovers who are always ready for a carb-centric challenge. Get your forks ready for twirling and make sure you've got a little extra Parmesan for dusting as we reveal our favorite pasta dishes in the U.S.  

Rigatoni at Topolino's Terrace (Lake Buena Vista) - Dani Zoeller

The massive pasta-shaped golden chandelier sets the stage for your dinner at Topolino's Terrace. Located at the Riviera, it's one of the signature restaurants at Walt Disney World, with a focus on exquisite Italian fare. Though the menu tempts with its variety, the rigatoni remains my consistent choice with every visit.

The handmade pasta comes adorned with a lavish medley of chicken, mushrooms, onions, black truffle, and broccolini. The chefs cook the pasta to perfection, while the broccolini provides a refreshing crunch and the chicken strikes a perfect balance of moisture and flavor. This is a dish that I could, without a doubt, devour until the plate shines clean. Yet, given the upscale nature of the restaurant, I have managed to show restraint — so far, at least. The $38 cost may seem like a lot, but it's a relative bargain compared to the price of the other entrees at this fine dining destination.

Cacio e Pepe at Via Carota (NYC) - Brendan McGinley

I've taken my Italian meals on Arthur Avenue my entire New York existence. I've mostly eschewed this cuisine elsewhere, knowing that Bronx Belmont is second to none. A long-wait hotspot known for its celebrity sightings in the West Village exhibits elevated quality but also flies above my radar. Reader, let a guy tell you what I fool I was.

Sitting down at Via Carota for a group gathering, I tasted a broad slice of the menu, each bite better than the last. The charming surroundings blessedly lacked hotspot atmosphere, but if this dish's home were unsteady plastic tables somewhere far-flung outer borough, I'd still write this; the cacio e pepe at Via Carota is like nothing you've yet had. Tongue-melting. Mind-blowing. I simply don't think it's possible to fine-tune a pasta dish to more satisfying specs than this spectacular dish courtesy of chefs Rita Sodi and Jody Williams. Tonnarelli cooked to the juxtaposition of al dente and chewy. A sauce that's the perfect texture and taste. Fresh, cracked pepper and pecorino Romano hovering on the melting point, daring you onward with just enough remaining granular texture. This is the work of chefs that know exactly how to precision-wield their medium. Get it if you can.

Spicy Pomodoro at Cento Pasta Bar (Los Angeles) - Allie Lebos

Since making itself a permanent home in West Adams, Cento has been one of my go-to places for pasta. Sitting at the bar top in front of the open kitchen and watching the chefs work their magic is an unbeatable experience that every LA local should enjoy. Though you can't go wrong with any of the pasta dishes, the Spicy Pomodoro is a rich and creamy creation that has the ideal kick and texture.

The hand-made rigatoni noodles are perfectly al dente and evenly coated in the flavorful spicy sauce. However, the ricotta is what makes this dish stand apart from the crowd. A hefty dollop of the creamy cheese is topped with basil oil and the centerpiece is just as beautiful as it is delicious. A hint of truffle brings umami notes and a touch of luxury to the dish.  

Spaghetti All'Arrabbiata at Mother Wolf (Los Angeles) - Simone Gerber

When Mother Wolf first started making waves in early 2022, it wasn't just popular, it was being touted as "the most exclusive reservation in the city." Needless to say, I was skeptical, but as the Instagram photos and restaurant reviews kept pouring in, one dish was insistent upon catching my eye — the spaghetti all'arrabbiata.

Spaghetti all'arrabbiata is a Roman pasta known for its burst of heat, and with the Italian word for "angry" (arrabbiata) in the name, you want the sauce to live up to that promise. Mother Wolf's take on the dish does just that with a rich, savory tomato sauce that hits the sweet spot of spicy enough to make you sweat, but not so hot that you can't appreciate the other flavors alongside it. Paired with the perfectly al dente noodles and the fact that the serving is large enough to share with a friend (though you won't want to), I was hooked from the moment I took my first bite. I've since recommended it to every pasta-lover I know and have assured them that, yes, the hype for this one is very, very real.

Cavatelli at Raccolto (Seattle) - Caitlin Morris

Raccoloto is an Italian gem in West Seattle that is renowned for its fresh pasta — they produce roughly 40 pounds of it each day. Any of chef Brian Clevenger's carby creations is worth ordering, but the cavatelli is an absolute must. Seasoned with a holy trinity of butter (European-style Plugrà, to be exact), black pepper, and parmesan, this spin on classic cacio e pepe is a culinary magic trick. Such depth of flavor seems impossible to come from so few ingredients, yet, the salt, spice, and creaminess harmonize perfectly. (We also appreciate that the restaurant doesn't skimp on the parmesan shavings.)

The heartier pasta shape and the option to add a fried egg definitively classify the dish as comfort food. It's the perfect minimalist companion to a more audacious pasta or protein. Just as easily, it holds its own as a main dish that doesn't sacrifice complexity and richness.

Spicy rigatoni vodka at Carbone (NYC) - Jenessa Abrams

The Big Apple is home to many iconic restaurant dishes, but there is arguably no plate of pasta in NYC more popular right now than the spicy rigatoni vodka at Carbone. Nestled in the heart of the West Village (and with locations in Dallas, Miami, Las Vegas, and Hong Kong), it's the crown jewel of the Major Food Group restaurant collection, featuring elevated Italian staples like spaghetti pomodoro and lobster ravioli. But it's the spicy rigatoni vodka that has captured the hearts of diners across the world — it's become so in demand, Carbone now sells jars of its spicy vodka sauce in specialty grocery stores.

Freshly made thick-cut rigatoni is smothered in a sauce that's at once rich, creamy, spicy, and bursting with a bright tomato flavor (the key is using high-quality fruit that is grown in Italian volcanic ash). To achieve the intensity of heat that the sauce is known for, onions and Calabrian chili peppers are cooked into it to amplify the overall taste profile. The tubular pasta offers a deep cavity that allows it to hold the sauces exceptionally well, carrying the flavor of the spicy vodka decadently on the exterior while oozing forth from the center.

Lasagna Napoletana from La Sorrentina (North Bergen) - Joe Virgillito

It doesn't seem right to make any kind of best pasta list that doesn't include lasagna. It's not easy to make and even more difficult to perfect, which is why this layered, baked dish is a particularly key player on major holidays. Sometimes, though, you don't want to wait for a special occasion for a slice that hearkens back to the laced tablecloths and family dinners of your childhood. Enter Trattoria La Sorrentina in North Bergen, New Jersey, where you'll find some of the most delicious, comforting lasagna on the planet.

The ingredient list is as uncomplicated as it gets — noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, meat, and tomato sauce — but anyone who's had a grandmother or great aunt prepare this dish knows the quality lies not just in what makes up the lasagna but how it's made. Each step in the process is a meticulous labor of love and affection, and you can taste that care in between each layer of sauce and cheese. We're certainly not here to say it's better than your beloved family recipe, but it's awfully close — and we can think of no greater compliment.

Baked pasta at Al Forno (Providence) - Hanna Berman

Al Forno is a Providence staple whose reputation precedes itself: It's often credited as the birthplace of grilled pizza. Located a walking distance from Brown University's campus, this restaurant opened in 1980 and is still under the care of chef and owner Johanne Killeen, whose late husband (and coauthor) George German used to operate it with her. While the pizza marghertia is great, the dish that keeps my family traveling all the way from NYC to Al Forno year after year is the baked pasta.

The trick is boiling the shells for far less than their normal cook time before transferring them to a creamy, cheesy tomato sauce. A thin layer of the pasta is topped with butter shavings, spread onto an oval-shaped black pan, and then placed into the oven where it bakes for just a few minutes at an extremely high temperature. The blast of heat ensures the top layer of the shells is crunchy and delicious. Paired with that decadent sauce, it's a pasta that is undeniably road trip-worthy.

Pasta Limone at Pepp & Dolores (Cincinnati) - Brian Udall

The Italian coastline is known for its gorgeous hills of lemon trees. Although it's a lesser-known Italian dish, pasta limone is one of the greatest culinary creations to come out of that country. Midwestern Ohio may not have the nice sea views or the quaint cobblestone streets but thanks to Pepp & Dolores I still get to have a piece of Italian sunshine on my plate when I need it.

The perfectly chewy spaghetti noodles are made in-house and covered in a succulent sauce that might be too rich if it weren't perfectly balanced by the bright citrus of fresh lemon. Topped with ricotta and garlic breadcrumbs, this dish delivers the goods with its outstanding flavor and complex textures.

In an up-and-coming city like Cincinnati, it's easy to get boxed into the erroneous belief that the food scene can't compete. Pepp & Dolores is just one of many restaurants in this town that are out to prove that you can have premium quality at a price point that big-city restaurants have left far behind.

Fettuccini Alfredo at Paul's Pasta (Groton) - Sara Klimek

Nestled near the U.S. sub base along the Thames River is a small pasta shop serving up some of the best Italian fare Connecticut has to offer. Open since 1988, Paul's Pasta makes its pasta and sauces in-house. Among the menu options, which include the popular buffalo mac and cheese, lobster ravioli, and linguini in clam sauce, is the highly underrated fettuccini alfredo.

I first had this pasta dish when I was eight years old (and already a Paul's regular at that point) and fell in love with how creamy and cheesy the sauce was. It's the kind of sauce that makes you melt inside and say, "I could eat this every day for the rest of my life and be happy with it." The fresh pasta is always cooked to absolute perfection, and the accompanying loaf of Italian garlic bread is perfect for soaking up all of the extra Alfredo left behind in the dish. If that's not enough, opt for a chicken parmesan upgrade. Paired with an Italian cannoli or a slice of carrot cake, this meal is nothing but a childhood favorite that has always kept me coming back to Paul's.

Lemon Crab and Shrimp over Linguini at La Scala's Fire (Philadelphia) - Julia Collins

Considering Philadelphia's sizable Italian population, it's no surprise that the City of Brotherly Love is home to a number of excellent Italian eateries. One of those spots happens to be La Scala's Fire, a locally-owned mini-chain with three additional locations in Pennsylvania and a couple in South Jersey. My go-to is the lemon crab & shrimp over linguini which combines all the elements that I love in a pasta dish.

The bright citrus flavors of the lemon bring out the freshness of the crab, and when you get a shrimp in the same bite as the pasta, the textures come together beautifully. Plus, the portions of crab meat and shrimp are never skimped on, and neither are the seasonings. This is the perfect summer pasta dish as it's not too heavy, and it may just leave you room for dessert (that is if you didn't already order the iconic ricotta board appetizer and filled up on breadsticks).