Special Ingredients

These three restaurants take housemade pasta to the next level by throwing nontraditional ingredients into the mix


The motivation behind Cultivar’s tomato leaf bucatini ($16, small/$28, large) with blistered tomatoes, potato crisp and Parmigiano-Reggiano foam was a desire to utilize the entire tomato plant, which is often past its prime at the end of summer. “The tomato plant adds a lovely herbaceous flavor to the pasta,” says Cultivar chef/owner Mary Dumont. To create the pasta, the tomato leaf is blanched, pureed and then folded into the dough. Once its smoothed, the surplus is dehydrated, boosting the bucatini’s flavor and color.

Thanks to the beets used to create the dough, Scampo’s beet pappardelle ($18, half/$28, full) with blue poppy seeds, white baby beets and black summer truffles not only boasts a robust color, but an earthy, rich flavor. The mixture is made using traditional components such as egg yolks, oil, flour and water, but a special puree—created by roasting the beets with spices until tender—is substituted for some of the water. “There’s always challenges when using nontraditional ingredients,” says Scampo executive sous-chef Alex Pineda. “But it’s about finding the correct balance and method of preparation.”

Ledger executive chef Daniel Gursha’s mother used to make him multi-colored wagon wheel pasta as a child. His love of the shape and colors she used inspired him to include vegetables in the dough to help add layers of flavor to his pasta dishes. For the lobster spaghetti ($34) with corn pasta, fresh tomato, herbs, butter and chili, the freshest corn possible is used so that the vegetable’s sweetness comes through in the noodles.

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