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Favorite pasta dishes

Pasta a la mama (rigatoni with cauliflower, breadcrumbs

Pasta a la mama (rigatoni with cauliflower, breadcrumbs and pecorino) at Hildebrandt's in Williston Park. Photo Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus

If you laid every strand of spaghetti Peter Gianotti has eaten on Long Island end to end . . . well, we’re talking about the distance to the moon, if not Mars. He recently compiled his favorites; read the list here.

And I’m submitting the following for honorable mention:

The carbonara at Luigi Q in Hicksville. It’s not on the menu, but owner Luigi Quarto is happy to make anyone a bowl of his excellent carbonara. As in Italy, the pasta, usually linguine, is bound by egg alone; cream doesn’t enter into it. But Quarto does add some thinly sliced cabbage and chopped fresh parsley which, for some reason, make it even better.

It may be Long Island’s most unexpected pasta specialist: Hildebrandt’s, Williston Park’s great ice-cream parlor. “Pasta a la mama” is a very Sicilian combination of rigatoni, cauliflower, bread crumbs, olive oil and pecorino, one I’d be thrilled to eat in any Italian restaurant, and a bargain at $11.50.

Any pasta at 18 Bay. Many of the local restaurants claiming to serve homemade pasta actually buy it from wholesalers such as Pasta People in West Babylon or Deer Park Ravioli in Deer Park (which I profiled here). But at 18 Bay (which recently moved from Bayville to Shelter Island), co-owner-chef Elizabeth Ronzetti makes her own fresh egg pasta in small batches, hand-cranking it through her little pasta-making machine. 18 Bay’s tasting menu changes daily so there’s no telling which pasta you’ll get on a given day, but on my last visit I was impressed with her fazzolettini (handkerchief pasta) with homemade chicken sausage.

So what's your favorite pasta dish?

Pasta alla mamma at Hildebrandt's

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