Rest of the Best 2013: Houston's Top Ten Pasta Dishes

Pasta, pasta and more pasta! This beautiful ravioli comes from our No. 2 pick.
Pasta, pasta and more pasta! This beautiful ravioli comes from our No. 2 pick.
Photo by Troy Fields

Our 2013 Best of Houston® winners have been announced, but in many cases, picking the best item in any category was no easy task. In order to show off all the culinary greatness Houston has to offer, we'll be rounding up the "rest of the best" in some of our favorite categories during the next several months. Bon appétit!

For me, as I suspect it is for many, pasta is the ultimate comfort food. My family isn't Italian, but I grew up eating a lot of pasta. On birthdays, it was fettuccine alfredo. For special events, it was linguine with shrimp scampi. On any given week night, it might be a mixture of roasted veggies and chicken with something imperfect from our pasta extruder, but it was always delicious and filling.

The first dish I ever learned to make was pasta alla puttanesca, and it's still what I make the best, and what I get requests for when I'm home. Trips to Italy opened my eyes to a whole new world of utterly simple but incredibly flavorful pasta dishes and unique ways to incorporate various vegetables and proteins into my pappardelle or conchigliette.

Of course, pasta isn't only Italian anymore. Pasta (not to be confused with Asian noodles) has found its way into Jewish, French, Cajun, American and numerous other cuisines. I'll argue that Italian is still the best, but there's no denying that pasta is perfect in just about any form. Here are some of the most perfect plates of pasta in Houston.

Kenny & Ziggy's pasta is super traditional. Traditional Jewish food, that is.
Kenny & Ziggy's pasta is super traditional. Traditional Jewish food, that is.
Photo by Tjinko

10. Kenny & Ziggy's I know, I know. You're thinking I'm crazy. A list of the best pasta -- arguably the national food of Italy -- and the first place she mentions is a New York-style Jewish deli?! Yes, and here's why: Kasha varnishkes. At Kenny & Ziggy's the traditional Ashkenazi Jewish dish is prepared just as it would be back in the old country. The ultimate soothing combination of buckwheat groats, bowtie pasta, eggs, chicken stock, onions and mushrooms was even featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network (for whatever that's worth). But if you don't trust Guy Fieri, trust me: This hearty, grain-heavy dish is geshmak!

Pasta with Justice sauce at Bayou City.
Pasta with Justice sauce at Bayou City.
Photo by ThaChadwick

9. Bayou City Seafood & Pasta As a resident of the Bayou City, I would be remiss to create a list of the best pastas without a tip of the hat to the bayou itself, and all of the fresh seafood that comes from it. At Bayou City Seafood & Pasta, the traditional Italian dish gets a Cajun makeover, thanks to some mudbugs and a bit of spice. During crawfish season, the best pasta on the menu is the Pasta Lafayette, a simple dish of fettuccine or angel hair with sautéed crawfish. Order it "Justice style," which will get you a thick topping of spicy diablo sauce and creamy alfredo sauce.

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