Best of 2001: Best Fresh Pasta

Assenti's Pasta
2004 India Street, Little Italy

Fresh pasta offers a richer flavor, so forget the boxed stuff and head for Assenti's. Sure, they've got plain pasta, and the plain pasta is superb. But if it's the weekend, and the week has been plodding and dull, jazz it up. Snatch a pound of fresh New Mexico chili fettuccini, lemon saffron fettuccini, garlic-pepper linguini, cheese and spinach ravioli, or one of the more than 40 varieties Assenti's turns out. The fresh pastas are crafted from durum semolina, unbleached flour, whole fresh eggs, and water. (The fresh rigatoni and spaghetti are always prepared eggless, but any pasta can be made egg-free with prior notice.) A word of warning: cooking time on fresh pasta is minimal compared to packaged pasta -- generally only two to three minutes. If you hesitate, you may end up with a sticky, gummy, starchy mess. While you're there, snag some fresh frozen ravioli (Gorgonzola and porcini mushroom, to name two) and homemade sauces -- such as Alfredo, marinara, arugula, or roasted red bell pepper pesto -- to stash in your freezer.

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