3314 Guess Road, Durham, gocciolina.com
The Goach (everyone else calls it that, too, right?) is one of our favorite Durham restaurants for reasons far beyond pasta, but the pasta is no slouch. We love the care and precision exerted on its modest portions, which make a satisfying entrée but leave plenty of room for exciting small plates. The little ramekin of gnocchi is just perfect.
Mothers & Sons Trattoria
107 West Chapel Hill Street, Durham, mothersandsonsnc.com
Durham restaurant overlord Matt Kelly and chef Josh “Skinny” DeCarolis’s pasta palace is stylish and modern but warmed by traditional touches, with menus in Italian and vintage Campari prints on the walls. On the plates is handmade pasta—a rarity in these parts—fashioned into a variety of noodles and doused with squid ink or cherry tomato sauce. Call it the fussier, fancier Gocciolina.
Vic’s Italian Restaurant
331 Blake Street, Raleigh, vicsitalianrestaurant.com
Vic’s has been serving old-world Italian cuisine since 1998. The classic trattoria vibes make for a cozy atmosphere in which to enjoy traditional pasta dishes such as the fettuccine del re, where each ribbon of fettuccine is coated in an alfredo sauce with an ideal creaminess (not too thick, not too thin).
4711 Hope Valley Road, #1E, Durham, pulcinellasitalianrestaurant.com
Red sauce runs through the veins of Pulcinella owner Salvatore “Rino” Fevola, who roams the floor at his unfussy southern Italian strip mall gem. Go ahead and ruin your appetite on the bread, which comes with tomato-infused olive oil for dipping, but don’t miss the simple perfection of the penne marinara.
601 West Main Street, Suite C, Durham, cucciolodurham.com
A new kid on Durham’s restaurant block, Cucciolo has a small, simple menu centered on quality ingredients. The linguine alla vongole, with middle-neck clams and cherry tomatoes, and the truffle tajarin, with black truffles and truffle paste, showcase Cucciolo’s noodle dishes at their finest.
Mulino Italian Kitchen & Bar
309 North Dawson Street, Raleigh, mulinoraleigh.com
You can’t go wrong with any of the expertly executed takes on classic Italian pasta dishes, but don’t miss the comforting slab of lasagna, made with ground beef and pork and both tomato and bechamel sauces. Snag a table in the gorgeous courtyard for carbs with a view.
1505 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, ilpalio.com
Located in the boutique Siena Hotel, Il Palio delivers luxe takes on pasta befitting its posh environs. Look for stepped-up classics such as burrata-stuffed ravioli with lobster and sage butter sauce or tagliatelle with black truffle pesto. The flour-averse can also sub in gluten-free pasta for any of the dishes.
2501 University Drive, Durham, thebootdurham.com
Try not to fill up on the sourdough focaccia and olive oil so you can save room for several of chef Rob Kinneen’s crowd-pleasing pastas, such as orchiette with local sausage or linguine with N.C. shrimp. Other solid renditions of classics include spaghetti and meatballs and lasagna. (Note: The Boot closed on April 13, 2019, after this magazine went to press.)
Jimmy V’s Osteria & Bar
420 Fayetteville Street, Raleigh, jimmyvsraleigh.com
The focus is on wood-fired, Italian-inspired fare such as pizzas, grilled chicken, and fish, but the spaghetti-and-meatballs is a delicious mouthful; a tangle of noodles comes with two six-ounce meatballs topped with marinara and shaved parmesan and a side of garlic toast.
136 East Hargett Street, Raleigh, caffeluna.com
This Moore Square gem serves up Tuscan-accented Italian fare in a light and airy space. Try the penne cappesante, in which scallops are paired with spinach sautéed in olive oil, or fantasia di mare, with fresh black taglierini featuring grouper and diced shrimp.