A guide to the glorious world of pasta in Baton Rouge

What a gift flour and water have given us.

These are the two key ingredients, after all, in most pastas. A simple, carefully kneaded dough is carved into bow-shaped farfalle, squiggly spaghetti or twisted fusilli. Its textured, porous surface makes a hospitable canvas for a chunky marinara, a spicy arrabbiata or a creamy carbonara.And an elegant plate of it is just the thing you want for that romantic V-Day dinner. A heaping bowl of it is the comfort food prerequisite for a Netflix-and-chill kind of night.

Pasta in Baton Rouge doesn’t look quite like what you might twirl a fork around in Naples. Because as with all other food groups, our local chefs always come to play.

Portions are generous. Sauce is luscious, creamy and never underseasoned. Forget a pasta party—it’s a pasta parade.

At long-running eateries like Monjunis Italian Café & Grocery or Gino’s Restaurant, the family red-sauce recipes span generations. Nino’s and Overpass Merchant are plating tender, house-made pasta. At Boru, the textural noodles are handcrafted with care for slurpable bowls of ramen. At Italian-inspired markets like Cannatella Grocery and Randazzo’s Italian Market, shoppers can snatch up fresh pasta to build renditions of Bolognese or mac ‘n’ cheese.

It’s no wonder pasta is having a moment on TikTok, from baked feta rigatoni recipes to farfalle-shaped earrings to, yes, pasta-water-scented candles.

It’s the same reason pasta has remained a pantry hero in the era of inflation. All that’s needed to make a chef-quality meal at home is a humble $4 box of pasta, salt, water and a block of a good-quality Parm or a basket of plump, farmers market tomatoes.

Pasta is as baroque as it is basic, as fancy and fashionable as it is easy and casual. Pasta is for everyone.

And we absolutely do not have to travel to Rome to savor our own unique slice of it all.

Stick a fork in it.

Where to find handmade pasta dishes in Baton Rouge

How Monjunis’ red sauce became a thing

Fresh and fancy pasta finds from neighborhood markets and local vendors

House-made noodles are a must for Boru owner Patrick Wong

The secrets to airy, tender potato pasta, from inside the kitchen at Nino’s

An ode to bread: Pasta’s trusty side piece is the glutenous gift that comes along with dining at Italian restaurants

This article was originally published in the February 2024 issue of 225 magazine.

Sidebar Sources: International Pasta Organisation, Eataly, Tasting Table, Italy Magazine, MasterClass, NYT Cooking, Food Network, Mashed and Smithsonian Magazine