Bite 2016: Prato 

click to enlarge bartlettimage-prato---9487.jpg

Photo by Rob Bartlett

If you've spent any amount of time in a restaurant — especially in the kitchen — you'll know how much a restaurant really profits on dried pasta. Take this advice if you want more value for your hard-earned Tubmans (soon!): Order pasta only when it's freshly made and cooked to order. The best local bet in the category? Prato's version of cacio e pepe.

Perhaps it's rooted in a yearning for a simpler, less menacing time, but we herald the return to the roots of cuisine and eschewing of molecular gimmicks and dishes comprising more ingredients than you can say in one breath. Cacio e pepe is about as simple as it gets. Other than the fresh-made spaghetti, only six other additions make the plate: black pepper, Parmesan cheese, radicchio, speck (a kind of cured, thick-cut bacon) and balsamic vinegar. Prato's mustard-powder-spiked semolina strands are tossed in that heavenly combo and a little starchy pasta water to make a rich, satisfying sauce without any cream whatsoever. When there are fewer ways to mask imbalance, a line cook's technique is on full display. Forget the flash: the quail eggs, the foams, the truffle shavings and the "airs." All we need in life is a modest pile of well-dressed noodles.

124 N. Park Ave., Winter Park,

407-262-0050; $$$

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