Ravioli? Seems so...square. Yes, boring, pedestrian versions abound (thank you, Chef Boyardee). Fortunately, Houston is a bastion of innovative takes on stuffed pasta. Try one of these five standout plates and rethink your stance on ravioli.
5. Veal Ravioli (Arturo's Uptown Italiano). "Earthy" is perhaps the best word to describe Arturo's ravioli. The pasta pockets are filled with supple calf meat, then dressed with with a decadent truffle butter sauce and walnuts, making for a dish that sings of autumn and Italy.
4. Tortelli di Bietola (Giacomo's Cibo e Vino). This dish's description -- "ravioli stuffed with Swiss chard, ricotta, goat cheese, sage butter sauce" -- may leave you initially wondering, "Where's the meat"? After one bite, you'll think, "Who the hell cares?" The pairing of two cheeses with a robust herb such as sage and the botanical fiber from the chard means that these ravioli pack a punch in terms of texture, cream, and flavor.
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3. Butternut Squash and Gruyère Ravioli (Corner Table). There are many pumpkin and/or squash pasta options in town, but Corner Table's butternut squash ravioli stands out for its use of aged Gruyère cheese and playful adornments such as an herb foam and a fried egg. Yes, you read correctly: A WHOLE FRIED EGG.
2. Sweet Bread & Kale Ravioli (Osteria Mazzatini). I know kale has become the vegetable American foodies love to hate, but please suspend your scorn and give Osteria Mazaatini's sweetbread and kale ravioli a chance. The incursion of sumptuous organ into the ravioli filling elevates the flavor of the kale, and a light bath of brown butter and lemon juice -- as well as a sprinkling of pine nuts and Parmesan cheese -- provides additional notes of cream, citrus, and salt.
1. Sweet Corn Ravioli with Lobster (Da Marco). Granted, tacking on the phrase "with lobster" to any dish description all but ensures its appeal. However, I promise that the sweet-corn pasta does not play second fiddle to the shellfish. Both elements push the dish more toward the left on the sweet-savory spectrum, though these ravioli are anything but demure and light. The complex fish and grain flavor come creeping as you eat, leaving you pleasantly overwhelmed and almost too full for a secondi.