27 heart-warming pasta dishes to dig into this season

December 12, 2019
By Chelsey Wade
By Chelsey Wade

Sensational local pasta places and a recommended dish from each.

Pasta has a way of bringing people together. With a variety of types and sauces to pair it with, there are countless ways to enjoy the Italian favorite.

Whatever the ingredients, here are hearty local dishes that are full of flavor. Pair them with their wine counterpart, and you have yourselves a little forkful of heaven.

Cacio + Pepe with Tagliolini at CERES

77 W. Washington St.
Cacio e pepe at CERES
Cacio e pepe at CERES (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Handmade pasta is the star at this to-go Italian sandwich-pasta shop. There are three noodle options — tagliolini, tagliatelle, bucatini — and a rotating special of stuffed pasta. With four tasty house-made sauce options, you can’t go wrong, but we’re in love with the Cacio + Pepe.

Don’t leave without a freshly baked sweet treat.

Read our October 2019 article Cafe “CERES” brings fresh hand-made pasta & bread to El Presidio.

For more information, visit cerestucson.com.

Ragu Tagliatelle at Commoner & Co.

6960 E. Sunrise Dr.
Ragu Tagliatelle at Commoner & Co.
Ragu Tagliatelle at Commoner & Co. (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Tucson Foodie’s lead writer and photographer Jackie Tran recently wrote the following about the Ragu on Commoner’s new menu:

“Even though [Commoner’s] not an Italian restaurant by any means, they’ve always been home to my favorite cold-weather house-made pasta dishes. Their new executive chef Drew Jawors has earned a spot as my new nonna.”

Read our October 2019 article Commoner & Co. to open Thursday with revamped interior & menu (PHOTOS).

For more information, visit commonertucson.com.

The General’s Favorite Chicken at HiFalutin Rapid Fire Western Grill

6780 N. Oracle Rd.
Beef Stroganoff and the General's Favorite Chicken at HiFalutin Rapid Fire Western Grill (Credit: Chelsey Wade)
Beef Stroganoff and the General’s Favorite Chicken at HiFalutin Rapid Fire Western Grill (Credit: Chelsey Wade)

With horse paintings and cowboy hats hanging between bunches of dried flowers, HiFalutin has an all-around Southwestern feel.

The General’s Favorite Chicken, made with cavatappi noodles in a light pesto cream sauce, is topped with feta cheese, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, and chopped walnuts. The walnuts give an extra crunch, while the sun-dried tomatoes bring boldness to the dish.

With only five pasta dishes on the menu, this creamy delight is easy to miss.

For more information, visit hifalutinaz.com.

Squid Ink Mafaldine at North Italia

2995 E. Skyline Dr.


North Italia makes their pasta fresh daily. Their Squid Ink Mafaldine is mixed with shrimp, calamari, and acqua pazza (poached white fish). It also includes mint, fennel pollen, and Calabrian chili for a hint of spice. The slightly dense, ribbon-shaped noodles pair perfectly with red sauce that has a kick.

Pair it with a glass of red, sit back, and enjoy the views of the foothills.

For more information, visit northitaliarestaurant.com.

Spinach Pappardelle at Wildflower American Cuisine

7037 N. Oracle Rd.
Spinach Pappardelle at Wildflower American Cuisine (Credit: Chelsey Wade)
Spinach Pappardelle at Wildflower American Cuisine (Credit: Chelsey Wade)

Wildflower serves New American cuisine in a modern, airy restaurant. With menu options that span soups and salads to fresh pasta, you’ll find yourself pouring over the pasta as the winter months approach.

The Spinach Pappardelle is plated as a towering mix of ribbony spinach noodles in a broth-like sauce. It features house-melted tomatoes, roasted chicken, spinach, and pine nuts. The end result is hearty, rich, and colorful.

For more information, visit wildflower-american-cuisine.

Shrimp Scampi Pasta at Jonathan’s Cork

6320 E. Tanque Verde Rd.
Shrimp Scampi Pasta at Jonathan's Cork (Credit: Chelsey Wade)
Shrimp Scampi Pasta at Jonathan’s Cork (Credit: Chelsey Wade)

Filtering aromas and a dimly lit atmosphere draw you in on your quest for fine flavors at Jonathan’s Cork. The Shrimp Scampi features large, fresh shrimp and is served with fusilli pasta covered in a buttery white wine sauce, sautéed with shallots and garlic.

For more information, visit jonathanscork.com.

Carbonara at Dolce Vita Italian Bistro

1800 E. Fort Lowell Rd. Ste. 168


Family-owned Dolce Vita has been serving the community for over 40 years. Regulars love the large portion sizes and cozy atmosphere. Their version of the famous Italian pasta dish, Carbonara, incorporates bacon, ham, and eggs over spaghettini with a light cream sauce.

Keep up with Dolce Vita on Facebook.

Nonna Antoinetta’s Pasta al Forno at Bottega Michelangelo

420 W. Magee Rd.
Nonna Antoinetta's Pasta al Forno at Bottega Michelangelo (Credit: Chelsey Wade)
Nonna Antoinetta’s Pasta al Forno at Bottega Michelangelo (Credit: Chelsey Wade)

Michelangelo’s is family-owned and the recipes have been passed down for generations. Al forno is another way of saying ‘oven-baked’ food in Italian. This savory dish incorporates rigatoni, meatballs, pepperoni, and hard-boiled eggs. It is then baked in pomodoro sauce and topped with fresh mozzarella.

Read our May 2019 article 10 fun facts to celebrate Bottega Michelangelo’s 30th anniversary.

For more information, visit bottegamichelangelo.com.

Chicken Mimosa at Vero Amore

2920 N. Swan Rd. • 12130 N. Dove Mountain Blvd. Ste. 104
Chicken Mimosa (Photo courtesy of Vero Amore)

Italian-based and world-renowned True Neapolitan Pizza Association awarded Vero Amore the “Authentic Neapolitan Pizzeria” certification. This speaks to the high level of freshness and quality in the restaurant’s ingredients, reflected both in their pizzas and pasta. Try the Chicken Mimosa. It includes artichoke hearts and prosciutto sautéed with chicken to complement bowtie pasta in a spinach cream sauce.

For more information, visit veroamorepizza.com.

Lasagna alla Bolognese at Caffe Torino

10325 N. La Canada Dr. • 5605 E. River Rd. Ste. 121
Lasagna alla Bolognese at Caffe Torino in the Foothills (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Lasagna alla Bolognese at Caffe Torino in the Foothills (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Caffe Torino, a restaurant centered on Northern Italian recipes, makes their green pasta — used in their signature lasagne —in-house. It is layered with bolognese, bechamel sauce, and parmesan.

The restaurant has a huge wine selection and a reputation built on authentic homestyle Italian cooking.

Read our April 2019 article Experience Fine Northern Italian Cuisine at Caffe Torino in the Foothills.

For more information, visit caffetorinotucson.com.

Linguini with Grilled Ora King Salmon at Vivace Restaurant

6440 N. Campbell Ave.
Linguini with Grilled Salmon
Linguini with Grilled Salmon (Photo courtesy of Vivace)

Chef-owner Daniel Scordato provides fine Northern Italian dining at upscale Vivace. For a lighter pasta dish, the Linguini with Grilled Ora King Salmon is the perfect addition to the incredible views. It features sautéed red onion, Kalamata olives, capers, tomatoes, basil oil, and tender salmon over linguine (and is best paired with a glass of white).

For more information, visit vivacetucson.com.

Wild Mexican Shrimp Alfredo at Zona 78

7301 E. Tanque Verde Rd.


Although Zona 78 is better known for charcuterie, their pasta is worth digging into, too. This simple dish is elevated with the addition of Mexican Shrimp and fresh basil.

For more information, visit zona78.com.

Ravioli di Zucca at Tavolino

2890 E. Skyline Dr.


Located at the base of the Foothills, Tavolino has a sophisticated and cozy ambiance. Their impressive wine selection includes those from regions in Italy and France. For something comforting to pair with an exotic glass, opt for the Ravioli di Zucca. The homemade butternut squash ravioli with brown butter, parmesan, and sage melts in your mouth.

For more information, visit tavolinoristorante.com.

Shrimp and Scallops at Bazil’s

4777 E. Sunrise Dr.
Shrimp and Scallops at Bazil's
Shrimp and Scallops at Bazil’s (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The dimly lit dining space and private booths at Bazil’s is the perfect date night setting. To really heat things up, order the sautéed shrimp and scallops with red bell peppers and asparagus. Don’t let the garlic deter you — the fettucine is smothered in a gorgonzola white-wine cream sauce that’ll impress your date.

Read our September 2019 article After 40 years, Northeast Tucson’s Bazil’s still delights.

For more information, visit bazilstucson.com.

Vodka Rigatoni at Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink

101 E. Pennington St.
Vodka Rigatona at Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink (Credit: Chelsey Wade)
Vodka Rigatoni at Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink (Credit: Chelsey Wade)

With modern lighting and historical architecture, Reilly has fused the old with the new at the Italian restaurant.

Staple menu item and staff favorite Vodka Rigatoni is as tasty as it is colorful. You’ll be greeted by the smell of fresh basil atop a gorgeous bowl of house-made pasta covered in peppery, creamy vodka sauce.

To brighten the dish, try citrus aperitif Boy, Don’t you Look Nice!

For more information, visit reillypizza.com.

Gnocchi all’ Arrabbiata at Trattoria Pina

5541 N. Swan Rd.


Trattoria Pina’s soft, chewy gnocchi — a pasta-like dish made with potato and flour, resembling mini dumplings — is made in-house and served in a spicy garlic marinara cream. You’ll be begging for a second plate.

For more information, visit trattoriapina.com.

Zucchini Noodle Pasta Primavera at Renee’s Organic Oven

7065 E. Tanque Verde Rd.
Zoodles Alfredo at Renee's Organic Oven (Credit: Shelby Thomas)
Zoodles Alfredo at Renee’s Organic Oven (Credit: Shelby Thomas)

Organic food that’s locally sourced? There’s a lot to love about Renee’s — including their pasta.

They offer several gluten-free options, including a vegan Zoodles dish that uses organic zucchini and your choice of sauce. The veg-forward, aromatic dish with artichoke, red peppers, garlic, onions, basil, broccoli, Kalamata olives, and spinach is smothered in Alfredo sauce. Talk about checking all the boxes.

For more information, visit reneesorganicoven.com.

Pasta salad at Zinman’s Food Shop and Vegan Bistro

111 W. Fourth St.
Pasta Salad at Zinman's Food Shop (Credit: Chelsey Wade)
Pasta Salad at Zinman’s Food Shop (Credit: Chelsey Wade)

Zinman’s Vegan Pasta Salad is not your typical pasta salad. They use their house-made cold noodles made from local Durum wheat — a type of whole wheat from a non-GMO grain. And even mill their own flour for the pasta.

The noodles are served on a bed of raw, seasonal vegetables with tahini sauce, topped with pistachios.

Read our July 2019 article Meatless Monday: Pasta Salad at Zinman’s Food Shop.

For more information, visit zinmans.com.

Saffron Turmeric Pasta at Harvest Restaurant

10355 N. La Cañada Dr.
Saffron Turmeric Pasta at Harvest Oro Valley (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Saffron Turmeric Pasta at Harvest Oro Valley (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Harvest values local, seasonal ingredients, which is reflected in their menu. We found their house-made Saffron Turmeric Pasta to be one of those ‘don’t want to miss’ kind of dishes. It features sautéed mushrooms, leeks, and sun-dried figs, all tossed with light sherry cream sauce and is topped with goat cheese.

We know you’re already salivating.

For more information, visit harvestov.com.

Drunken Angel at The Parish

6453 N. Oracle Rd.
The Parish's Drunken Angel
The Parish’s Drunken Angel (Photo by Jackie Tran)

The Parish’s wine-soaked pasta dish combines burgundy angel hair, shrimp, and crawfish in a lobster broth, savory saffron red pepper cream sauce, and fresh parmesan. The decadent Cajun-inspired entrée is a Tucsonan favorite, promising rich flavor in every bite.

For more information, visit theparishtucson.com.

Agnolotti at Caffe Milano

46 W. Congress St.
Agnolotti at Caffe Milano
Agnolotti at Caffe Milano (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Caffe Milano’s authentic Italian menu is created by chef Fulvia “La Fufi” Steffenone. One of the restaurant’s rotating specials, the Agnolotti alla Piemontese, is worth ordering while you can. The homemade ravioli is filled with beef, sausage, and cabbage and is tossed in a roast beef sauce. Italy in every bite.

Read our November 2019 article At Caffé Milano, Chef Fulvia Steffenone Brings a Taste of Italy to Tucson.

For more information, visit lafuficaffemilano.com.

Meat Lasagna at Fresco Pizzeria & Pastaria

3011 E. Speedway Blvd.
Meat lasagna at Fresco Pizzeria & Pastaria (Credit: Chelsey Wade)
Meat lasagna at Fresco Pizzeria & Pastaria (Credit: Chelsey Wade)

Family-owned Fresco specializes in scratch-made eats and makes a mouth-watering Meat Lasagna. It’s home-style comfort food that you’ll want to take home and eat in your pajamas (no judgment there).

For more information, visit frescopizzeria.com.

Joe’s Special at Mama Louisa’s Italian Restaurant

2041 S. Craycroft Rd.

A staple in Tucson since 1956, Mama Louisa’s delivers Italian-American cuisine that pulls regulars. Customers value its tradition and commitment to homemade classic dishes… and Joe’s Special, the dish that has been on the menu since opening. The massive portion of house-made linguini has hot pepper seeds, garlic oil, melted cheese, and house sauce. Bring your appetite!

Read our April 2019 article Your Guide to 31 of Tucson’s Most Iconic Dishes.

For more information, visit mamalouisas.com.

Pappardelle at Alloro D.O.C

7600 E. Broadway Blvd. Ste. 200
Pappardelle at Alloro D.O.C. Italian Trattoria and Chophouse (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Pappardelle at Alloro D.O.C. Italian Trattoria and Chophouse (Credit: Jackie Tran)

This chic Hilton restaurant, which combines modern concepts and Italian cuisine, has an open floor plan that makes for an inviting space. The pappardelle served at the restaurant and wine bar features short rib, mushrooms, house-made ricotta, kale, and pomegranate seeds — a combination of flavors and textures you’ll want to repeat.

For more information, visit hilton.com/dining.

Spaghetti Thursday at Primo

3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd.
Spaghetti & Meatballs at Primo
Spaghetti & Meatballs (Photo courtesy of Primo on Facebook)

On Thursdays, Primo has a Spaghetti & Meatball night, which includes a glass of nozzole chianti classic for $26 per person. Fresh ingredients — such as mint and tomatoes — are picked from their garden in order to prepare the dish. With award-winning chefs and gorgeous mountain views, visiting Primo is highly recommended.

For more information, visit marriott.com/hotel-restaurants.

Spicy Crema at Piazza Gavi

5415 N. Kolb Rd.
Pasta at Piazza Gavi
Pasta at Piazza Gavi (Photo courtesy of Piazza Gavi on Facebook)

It’s no wonder that Piazza Gavi is known for pasta, they’ve got plenty of choices (and a dedicated menu). Whether you prefer your pasta prepared traditionally, baked, or smothered in marinara, there’s something for you. Choose from spaghettini, fettuccine, mostaccioli or angel hair varieties, to name a few. The Spicy Crema, featuring pepperoncini and tomato cream sauce, comes highly recommended.

For more information, visit gavicucina.com.

Spaghetti with Garlic & Oil at Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria

2707 E. Broadway Blvd.


This neighborhood pizza and pasta joint is famous for Chicago-style stuffed pizzas. They also dish up a drool-worthy homemade pasta dish with a simple garlic-oil sauce and serve it with garlic bread.

For more information, visit roccoslittlechicago.com.

[This article was originally written on October 1, 2018, and most recently updated on December 12, 2019.]

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