Home Best of Guides A List of Must-Try Pasta Spots in Essex County

A List of Must-Try Pasta Spots in Essex County

by Samantha Impaglia
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There’s nothing more comforting than a bowl of steaming hot pasta. Pasta is a staple of Italian cuisine, and here in New Jersey, there are so many amazing dishes one can find — from the classic to the creative. North Jersey has such a wide range of restaurants to choose from, so it might be hard to find just the right place. Luckily, we’ve done the research for you and rounded up a list of some of the best pasta spots in Essex County. Read on to see where to find best pasta spots in the Essex County area.

ARTIE’S | 15 Newark Way, Maplewood


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The Ivy at Chatham

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Formerly Arturo’s, this spot recently relocated + rebraded to an all-day Italian eatery, with the same delicious flavors as its predecessor. In addition to being known for pizza (which is also 100% worth trying), the menu includes an incredible pasta selection. There are simpler dishes like the highly-recommended Mushroom Ravioli with truffle oil garlic rosemary sauce, along with more eclectic ones. The Cinghiale is made with wild boar ragu Bianco and mushrooms, and the Cavatelli Siciliani includes chiles, capers, anchovies, and pine nuts.

Bucco | 61 Washington Street, Bloomfield


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Bucco is a simple Italian establishment with rustic vibes. It has a robust pasta menu that will leave anyone satisfied, and it’s previously included a Sunday special of “Grandma’s Sunday Gravy” served over rotini. The Stuffed Rigatoni Pasta is a favorite among customers, along with the Spaghetti White Clam Sauce. Other dishes that stand out include Spaghetti Bucco, which has asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, long hot peppers, garlic and oil, parmesan, and provolone cheese.

Cafe Giotto | 42 Church Street, Montclair


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Cafe Giotto’s pasta is house-made along with the rest of their specialty Italian products. The chic design makes it a picture-perfect spot, going along with the upscale menu. Cavatelli, gnocchi, spaghetti, and tagliatelle can be enjoyed four ways – with pomodoro, pesto, agile e olio, or bolognese – and there are several specialty pastas. Along with daily specials like cavatelli with crumbled sweet sausage and roasted red peppers, and the top-rated Truffle Tortelloni, the specialties include Fazzoletti with spinach, ricotta, butter, and sage, and seasonal ravioli and risotto.

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da Pepo | 54 Fairfield Street, Montclair

Da Pepo, The Montclair Girl’s winner for the best pasta in the “Best of Montclair 2021,” has a warm atmosphere that’s perfect to enjoy this food. The traditional Italian recipes, made in-house, are learned from Italian ancestors, making the pasta selection top-notch. The Penne Arrabiata catches the eye with red onion, olives, hot cherry peppers, San Marzano tomato, and cream, as well as the Spaghetti Carbonara with guanciale, egg, pecorino romano, and black pepper.

The Fox + Falcon | 19 Valley Street, South Orange


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This restaurant/bar in South Orange has a chill atmosphere, TVs to watch the game, and a really fun trivia night on Wednesdays (we’ve been — it’s challenging!). It also has a host of hearty pastas on the menu. The mac and cheese here is a must — it’s creamy, rich, and can’t-stop-eating addictive. As for pastas, there’s a Spaghetti Putttanesca with scallops, marinara sauce, anchovies, chili, olives, and capers that’s really bright + flavorful; a wild mushroom Fettuccine with mushrooms, garlic, chili flakes, bread crumbs, and ricotta salata that’s vegetarian; and even vegan udon noodles with tofu pumpkin seed ‘cream,’ local wild mushrooms, and crispy shallots. You can’t go wrong with any of the pasta dishes here.

Gioia Mia | 331 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair

New to Montclair (in the former Fascino’s space), this spot is a contemporary American restaurant by Chef Logan Ramirez and Manager Mary Cumella, who were part of the Fascino team. The menu draws influence from various types of cuisine, but all the pastas are made in-house using flours imported from Italy. Some standout items from the menu include the Ricotta Gnocchi and the Porcini Tagliatelle (a white bolognese with pecorino).

Laboratorio Kitchen | 615 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair


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Healthy, locally-sourced ingredients are the focus of Laboratorio Kitchen’s dishes. As an upscale dining experience, the pasta is more gourmet than others. Along with the popular house-made ravioli appetizer, the Hand-Rolled Ricotta Cavatelli and Fresh Rigatoni Pasta with Italian sausage, broccoli rabe, fresh garlic, and tomato cream sauce offer fresh meals that make you feel good.

La Rocca Osteria | 23 Midland Avenue, Montclair


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As a chic and simple Italian spot, La Rocca Osteria offers many pasta dishes as well as specials. The Tagliolini Seafood Pasta with lobster, crabmeat, and shrimp in a light cherry tomato sauce is a hearty, popular plate, and a house-made lasagna sits next to it on the specials. More of the robust options include Linguine Vongole with manila clams, garlic, and parsley; Tagliatelle Bolognese; and gnocchi with La Rocca tomato sauce and smoked provolone.

Luigino’s Parmigiana | 173 Glenridge Avenue


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New to the Montclair food scene, Luigino’s Parmigiana “funky traditional” spot is bringing a taste of the Amalfi Coast to MTC. The menu boasts traditional, Southern Italian dishes with a modern twist, plus an open-kitchen “dispensa” concept, which isn’t what it sounds like (think: cheese board station). A standout item is the truffle gnocchi stuffed with cheese and mushrooms, but other notable pastas include classics like Carbonara and Cacio e Pepe.

Mama Dag’s Seafood and Pizza House | 410 Saint Cloud Avenue, West Orange


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On its extensive menu, Mama Dag’s Seafood and Pizza House includes a bunch of classic Italian pasta good for any occasion. It is another place that makes its own pasta, and the simple dining room is full of dark blue walls. In addition to Pappardelle Bolognese, a favorite amongst customers, Mama Dag’s has a signature pasta dish of Spaghetti con Polpette, which is An Italian-American classic of “Sunday gravy” according to the restaurant’s website. There’s classic Penne Vodka, Orecchiette Broccoli Rabe, Fettuccine Carbonara, and more. 

Matthew’s Italian Restaurant | 1131 Bloomfield Avenue, Clifton


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Matthew’s Italian Restaurant is about as classic Italian as it gets. It is a clean, sophisticated space that has become quite popular in its 12-year existence. The Rigatoni Vodka there never fails with its many rave reviews, and the rest of the pasta selection focuses on simple but effective dishes. What really intrigues customers is the “Sunday Sauce” that’s only available on that day; including slow-simmered country-style ribs, braciole, spicy sausage, and meatballs served over fresh rigatoni with a side of ricotta and basil. 

Nicolas Anthony’s Family Kitchen | 450 Main Street, West Orange

Penne Sicilia (which is vegetarian) and Rigatoni Bolognese are staples on the menu at this straightforward Italian restaurant. For a bit of a kick, there’s the Tuscan Rigatoni with sausage, broccoli rabe, cherry peppers, and white beans garlic, and oil. The most unique pasta dish is the Penne Nicolas Anthony, consisting of crab, shrimp, asparagus, grape tomato, and champagne cream sauce.

Pappardelle Ristorante | 77 Walnut Street, Montclair

There are so many pasta dishes to choose from at Pappardelle Ristorante, which can be easily identified by its red awning out front. There are four different plates of Pappardelle prepared in different ways, including the Chicken Tarantella with sautéed chicken, portobello mushrooms, prosciutto, and roasted peppers in a verde pesto sauce. From Shrimp a la Putanesca to Fettuccine al Salmone, to Lobster Ravioli, and more, Pappardelle has everyone covered when it comes to eating pasta.

Popolari | 1047 Broad Street, Bloomfield


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Popolari is a bit different from traditional Italian places, offering an upbeat, retro pizzeria vibe. The Spicy Vodka Pasta comes highly recommended as a classic dish with a twist, along with the Popolari Gnocchi in a pistachio basil pesto creme sauce. Another one of the signature dishes is the Malfaldine e Fungi Truffel, served with homemade ribbon pasta, and sautéed mixed mushrooms in a porcini creme sauce. For someone that wants to enjoy one of these plates but is gluten-free, any of the pasta dishes can be made to accommodate.

Primavera | 500 Pleasant Valley Way, West Orange

Primavera of West Orange has a ton of pasta options as well. The large, open dining room gives off warm vibes in a comfortable area. Traditional dishes like Gnocchi Bolognese and Penne Rigate con Vodka are on the menu, as well as Lobster Ravioli, Whole Wheat Linguini Primavera, and Four Cheese Ravioli. The Cavatelli Nona offers something that is not on every menu, consisting of homemade cavatelli, creamy ricotta cheese tomato basil sauce, diced eggplant, and melted fontina cheese.

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Scala Del Nonna | 32 Church Street, Montclair


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Scala Del Nonna’s bright, chic vibe makes the space so inviting. The Ricotta Gnocchi con Salsiccia e Porcini is one of the favorites here, and there is endless robust Italian pasta to choose from besides that. Coming from the chef’s Italian cooking background, the dishes here are perfect in their simplicity. Some of the options include Linguini al Carbonara, Lasagnette con Vodka, and Spaghetti al Bolognese.

Turtle + the Wolf | 622 Valley Road, Upper Montclair

Although there are only two pasta dishes here, they are worth a try. Turtle + the Wolf is an industrial-chic eatery with strong roots in Montclair, as the owner actually grew up in town. The two kinds of pasta offered include a Hand-Cut Pappardelle and Pork Sumo with roasted pork shoulder, as well as the squash Agnolotti with brown butter, which is seasonal.

pastaRAMEN | 6 S Fullerton Ave, Montclair

This isn’t your typical pasta spot — as it is both an Italian-Japanese spot located in Montclair. pastaRAMEN is the first Italian ramen restaurant created by James Beard nominated chef Robbie Felice. Some ramen dishes worth trying out are the Tonkotsu Porchetta, made of pork parmigiano, fennel, arugula, yuzu, + ajitama; and the Chicken Katsu, made of chicken parmigiano shoyu broth, caper, kikurage, burro, + ajitama. This spot blends together the essences of Italian-Japanese culture, getting a two-for-one food experience.

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