Northwest Nosh: Handmade Pasta

As the days grow colder, nothing satisfies quite like a hearty bowl of pasta. Accanto, a cozy trattoria on Southeast Belmont, pleases patrons with an assortment of handmade Italian noodle dishes. Although the menu changes according to the availability of seasonal and local ingredients, pasta is always served. This winter the restaurant offers a $10 spaghetti and meatballs special every Monday evening.

Accanto also prides itself on its beverage selection, which features European and Pacific Northwestern wines, Italian grappas and digestivos, and local microbrews. The restaurant combines food and drink during its popular cocktail hours, which take place from 3 to 5:30 pm Wednesday through Friday. Customers can enjoy traditional specialties like cacio e pepe at a reduced price.

My companions and I were impressed mightily with a recent meal at Accanto. After being promptly seated, we began our repast with a flurry of appetizers: velvety potato fennel soup, a plate of olive oil beignets stuffed with flavorful smoked trout mousse, and a pile of tasty fried sardines. Next we enjoyed creamy burrata and a dish of housemade ricotta accented with ribbons of spicy-sweet pickled red pepper.

We continued with the restaurant’s signature capellini lightly sauced with chili, garlic, anchovies and parsley, as well as a plate of plump potato gnocchi with sage pesto, sweet corn and chanterelle mushrooms. We also greatly enjoyed the rich saffron risotto. Portions were generous but not overwhelming.

It was awfully difficult to decide on dessert. Accanto makes its own gelato and sorbetto, and on the night we visited, flavors included melon moscato, pear pistachio and Honeycrisp apple. Ultimately, we went with the sugar-dusted ricotta doughnuts, which were like sweet puffs of air. A small dish of tart lemon curd rendered the treats irresistible. General Manager Michael Garofola calls Accanto “the neighborhood’s gathering spot.” With food like this, it’s easy to see why.

ACCANTO’S CAPELLINI (serves 2)
8 oz capellini
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
7 anchovy filets
A pinch of red pepper flakes
Olive oil
Chopped fresh herbs (primarily parsley)

Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Meanwhile, heat garlic in a saute pan with the olive oil, add the anchovies, then mash with a fork to make a paste. Toss in a big pinch of chili flakes and keep sauce warm. Drain pasta partially and add to the saute pan. Reduce liquid until sauce clings to the pasta. Throw in chopped herbs and stir. Serve immediately with a lemon wedge.

 

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