Everyone loves pasta, right? That’s one reason why Chicago is now seeing a renewed interest in house-made, hand-crafted pasta.
At Spiaggia (980 N. Michigan Ave.), James Beard award-winning chef Tony Mantuano has been making pasta since day one. Sitting down before service one night in late October, Mantuano told us that in 1982, when he cooked at a restaurant called Pronto (200 E. Chestnut), “We made fresh pasta there in front of the restaurant and we’d hang it out in front to dry. At Spiaggia, when we first opened, our philosophy was to serve only fresh pasta.”
Spiaggia has been open for 35 years, and now there are many newer restaurants that have made pasta their signature dish. We talked to some local chefs about how they use the three elemental ingredients of water, flour, and egg to fashion the estimated 350 different shapes of pasta used to make the many thousands of different pasta dishes on restaurant menus around the world. It’s these chefs and restaurants, following in the chef’s clogs of people like Mantuano, who are driving a pasta renaissance in Chicago … and it isn’t all happening at strictly Italian restaurants.