Pasta is the undisputed champion of the Italian table. In Italy, it's traditionally eaten as a first course (primo). Here in America, diners are just as likely to order it as a main dish -- it's just that good. Every region of Italy has its own pasta specialty. Here are some Long Island restaurants that do them proud.
Rigatoni alla vodka, Talluci's Pizzeria
Rigatoni alla vodka is creamy and slightly sweet at Talluci's Pizzeria in Farmingdale.
Bucatini all'Amatriciana, Matteo's Trattoria & Bar
Savory bucatini all'Amatriciana stands out among the pastas at Matteo's Trattoria & Bar in Huntington Station.
Pop Pops Pasta, Meta Osteria & Barra
Pop Pops Pasta includes broccoli rabe, red peppers, zesty meatballs and toasted bread crumbs at Meta Osteria & Barra in Oceanside.
Capellacci stuffed with burrata and pistachio, Da Gigi Trattoria & Bar
Capellacci stuffed with burrata and pistachio is finished with stracchino cheese sauce at Da Gigi Trattoria & Bar in Lynbrook. It's sensational.
Wild mushroom ravioli, Basil Cafe & Restaurant
Wild mushroom ravioli stuffed with crimini, shiitake and portabello mushrooms, is served with sundried tomatoes in a pink-peppercorn garlic sauce at Basil Cafe & Restaurant in St. James.
'North Fork paccheri', Il Giardino
"North Fork paccheri," akin to plump rigatoni, is sparked by goat cheese, with zucchini and arugula at Il Giardino in Aquebogue.
Gnocchi with pomodoro sauce, Tavern 227
Gnocchi with pomodoro sauce and ricotta is a winner at Tavern 227 in Sea Cliff.
Cauliflower ravioli, George Martin 1989
Cauliflower ravioli in Marsala-spiked sauce with lemon zest, chives and cream is a savory, rich choice at George Martin 1989 in Syosset.
Fioretti alla boscaiola, Patrizia's
Fioretti alla boscaiola, pasta purses stuffed with ricotta in a mushroom-prosciutto cream sauce, is a surefire crowd pleaser at Patrizia's in Hicksville.
Butternut squash raviolini, Blackbird Kitchen & Cocktails
Butternut squash raviolini is a comfort food classic at Blackbird Kitchen & Cocktails in Wantagh.
Cavatelli forestiera, Casa di Fratelli
Cavatelli forestiera fuses pasta shells with meaty mushrooms in a creamy marsala mascarpone sauce at Casa di Fratelli in Westbury.
Mezzi rigatoni with Sunday sauce, Brunello Italian Kitchen
The Sunday sauce at Brunello Italian Kitchen in Deer Park anchors a bowl of mezzi rigatoni that is heaped with meatball, sausage and braciole (beef rolls). Big enough for two, it could easily become a Sunday tradition.
Spaghetti alla carbonara, Franina
Spaghetti alla carbonara, a classic Roman dish, is expertly prepared at Franina in Syosset.
Pappardelle melanzane, Vespa Italian Kitchen & Bar
Pappardelle melanzane, thick ribbons of pasta with Marsala-eggplant ragu, ricotta and ricotta salata, is served at Vespa Italian Kitchen & Bar in Farmingdale.
Cacio e pepe, Gatsby's Landing
Pasta is the star of the menu at Gatsby's Landing in Roslyn. The cacio e pepe is a satisfyingly simple display of Pecorino Romano with fresh ground pepper and mint.
Malfada pasta, Aria Melanie on the Lake
Malfada pasta is dressed with kale pesto and studded with chorizo, grilled zucchini and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano at Aria Melanie on the Lake in Bay Shore.
Bucatini 'cacio e pepe,' Primi Italian Steakhouse
Bucatini "cacio e pepe," topped with shaved aged pecorino cheese and black pepper is simple and very satisfying at Primi Italian Steakhouse in West Islip.
Pasta con le sarde, Benny's Ristorante
Pasta con le sarde is the improbably harmonious combination of sardines, wild fennel, pine nuts, raisins and bread crumbs that is the specialty of Sicily. At Benny's Ristorante in Westbury, it's made, in authentic fashion, with bucatini, fatter than spaghetti and more likely to slap sauce down the front of your shirt.
The cuisine of Emilia-Romagna is Italy's most refined, as are the region's signature pastas -- tortellini, lasagna and tagliatelle, among them. Robert Franceschini, born outside of Parma, has made homemade pasta a signature of his 30-year-old restaurant, Piccolo's in Mineola. Ten varieties of ravioli are available, and frequent specials include superlative spinach-and-ricotta crespelle (crepes) and lasagna verde Bolognese.
Bigoli alla Latina, Stresa
The Veneto in Northeastern Italy is better known for its rice and polenta dishes than for its pasta, but bigoli -- thick, rough-hewn noodles usually made with whole wheat -- are the exception. At Stresa in Manhasset, the bigoli alla Latina is a hearty amalgam of pancetta, cabbage, tomatoes and pecorino.
Bucatini all'Amatriciana, Trattoria Diane
Before the tragic earthquake in August, 2016, the town of Amatrice, about 100 miles northeast of Rome in the region of Lazio, had one claim to fame: Sugo all'Amatrice, a lush sauce that owes as much to cured pork -- guanciale (pig jowl) or pancetta -- as it does to tomatoes and Pecorino Romano. Much of the menu at Trattoria Diane in Roslyn is devoted to the cuisine of Lazio, and the bucatini all'Amatrciana does the region proud.