There is a moment in the year when the leaves begin to sour, my outfits get thicker and the chill in the air makes me want to curl into a ball and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in bed. My appetite knows no bounds in winter. Give me everything—and two of them. Floppy slices of pizza, steaming bowls of noodle soup, fried whatever, and especially, pasta. There is a special spot in my gut for stuffed pasta: pillowy morsels programmed to tickle the pleasure center of my brain.
Not long ago, a friend of mine took a trip to Sorrento. He searched high and low to find the original sorrentino, the over-sized ravioli that is a staple of porteño bodegones and pasta shops. No one understood what the fuck he was talking about. The sorrentino is a Mar del Plata specialty, and like many Argentine food peculiarities, has a shaky origin story. Most likely, it was the product of a business owner trying to make his restaurant stick out amongst a sea of identical restaurants. Here are three in Buenos Aires to get your pasta fix:
El Refuerzo | Chacabuco 860, San Telmo
The menu at this San Telmo staple is in constant flux. Sandwiches, picadas and salads are mostly stuck in their ways but a small selection of pastas and grilled meats morph and evolve each and every week. Their sorrentinos are a magical carpet ride into the bodegones of Buenos Aires past. The selection is small and they change depending on whatever was found at the market. I’ve devoured chewy goat cheese, rich shredded lamb and balls or ricotta and nuts. The constant is the sauce: a thick red sauce with deep airs of tomato paste, salty bursts of capers and the unexpected earthy bitterness of fresh arugula and sesame seeds.
La Mamma Rosa | Julián Álvarez 878, Villa Crespo
Sometimes I think that La Mamma Rosa should be more hyped for its homey pasta dishes – a fluffy eggplant napolitana layered with charred cheese and a slightly sweet red sauce. Airy potato gnocchis flooded with beef stew. Hollowed out fussillis topped with shrimp sauce or long strings of flat cintas styled in a cream sauce and warped underneath a pile of melted cheese. Their ham and cheese sorrentinos look like weathered stones—the stuffing is uneven and bulbous, and obviously folded by hand, far from the manicured sorrentinos of a neighborhood pasta factory. Don’t be put off by the lack of curb appeal, though, and order it drowned in tuco y crema.
El Molino Dorado | Quito 4100, Almagro-ish
Bonus track: this tiny Ukrainian restaurant on the hazy borders of Almagro, Caballito and Boedo replaces the maps of Italy and raviolis with Soviet memorabilia and a house specialty: the varenyky. The delicate white dumplings are filled with potato that has been whipped so smooth it dissolves on the tongue. The filling isn’t packed with much seasoning, and it doesn’t matter, the ordinarily bland puree simply becomes a medium for which to scoop up crispy cubes of panceta and fried onion with a generous brushstroke of a slightly salty cream sauce.