Bears have the right idea. While we’re all walking around, going to work in the cold and dealing with a 6 p.m. that looks like midnight, bears are in caves somewhere, powering through glorious, monthslong naps. Thankfully, humans have come up with a solution: pasta. Eat a big bowl of noodles and then sack out. You deserve it.
— By Greg Elwell
Photos by Mark Hancock and Garett Fisbeck
305 N. Walker Ave.
If it ain’t Italian, it can take a walk. Patrono is hard-core authentic. Diners have to speak Italian to order. A grandmother comes out of the kitchen and makes you eat a second helping. Everyone who works there is required to own or rent a mustache. OK, none of that is true, except Patrono really makes authentic Italian food. Treat yourself to a bucatini all’Amatriciana and you’ll feel Italian, too.
1201 N. Walker Ave.
The management at Stella would like to remind me, specifically, that this is not a dinner theater and my constant Marlon Brando impression attempts are, at best, disturbing. So, while I have to swear not to yell “STELLA!” over and over again, you can binge on a bowl of rigatoni with spicy pomodoro sauce and short rib ragout or a big chunk of roasted chicken lasagna.
Bella Vista Italian Kitchen
5801 S. Western Ave.
How big a star is eggplant? It gets top billing. Heck, it gets the only billing in the big production of Eggplant Parmigiano: Live! Spaghetti barely gets a “with special guest” credit. Sometimes spaghetti misses meatballs. They were a team; unlike eggplant. But a job’s a job and spaghetti is a professional. If Bella Vista chefs want to showcase eggplant, they must know what they’re doing.
2824 N. Pennsylvania Ave.
With so many new restaurants opening, sometimes it’s easy to forget about some of your longtime favorites. But nobody forgets Rococo, especially in the winter. Pull up a comfy chair beside the fireplace and enjoy a big bowl of the always-excellent daily soup or carbonara-style fettuccine Alfredo with your friends, or your enemies, because taking them to Rococo is a pretty great way to turn enemies into friends.
10600 S. Pennsylvania Ave.
Italian words are just fun to say: Scampi. Vongole. Marsala. Cacciatore. Don’t you just want to pinch the air in front of you and shake your hands and shout, “linguine al pesto?” Then here’s some good news for you: Spazio Ristorante (which itself is fun to say) will let you come in and butcher the Italian language all day long. Pollo genovese! Vitello martino! Tiramisu!
Flip’s Wine Bar & Trattoria
5801 N. Western Ave.
Vampires, werewolves and other assorted night owls (but not actual owls; that would be ridiculous) love Flip’s because the kitchen stays open until 1 a.m. And as long as you’re warming yourself up with a glass of vino, your body temperature can afford the hit of the pescatore salad with chilled spinach linguine, poached shrimp, crab, capers, scallions and more. Ask for extra garlic if the vampires keep hitting on you.
Revolve Pizza Kitchen
100 W. Main St.
It might be best known for pizzas, but Revolve Pizza Kitchen doesn’t shy away from noodles, either. It might not be straight from Italy, but the Spicy Southerner combines your choice of pasta with spicy bourbon sauce, red pepper flakes, Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, chicken breast and bacon. Best of all, the spice of the dish will jump-start your digestive system, meaning you’ll soon have room for more pasta.