Cozy up at 11 businesses specializing in homemade pasta

There are plenty of pasta-bilities in the local area.
bowl of noodles with chopsticks at Little Tibet
Noodles from Little Tibet (November 2021)
Photo by Amy Stocklein

With winter quickly approaching, it’s time to order the comfort foods that offer warmth and coziness all season long. There’s no shortage of pasta offerings in Madison that are available for dine in or take out. It’s not just the toppings, flavors and shapes that feel endless, but also the opportunity to indulge in homemade noodles. Whether served stir-fried, smothered in sauce, submerged in soup or stuffed with cheese, these restaurants are making noodles from scratch.

Bar Corallini

bowl of pasta with pasta in the background

Photo by CC Jacob/Courtesy of Food Fight Restaurant Group

Bar Corallini creates house-made pasta daily, but its ricotta gnocchi is easily a standout on the menu. The dish comes with peas, asparagus, pine nuts, mint, Parmigiano-Reggiano and lemon butter. “I really go out of my way to find the right ingredients,” says owner and chef Giovanni Novella. Born into a family of fishermen, Novella developed an appreciation for cooking at a young age that only grew with time. Since 2019, he has led Bar Corallini, where he creates fresh mozzarella, pizza dough and pasta. One of Novella’s favorites is the cavatelli pasta with shrimp, pink vodka sauce, cherry tomatoes, walnuts and parsley. Instead of using a blender to make the sauce, Novella and his team squeeze each tomato by hand. Pasta comes in various sizes and shapes in the spirit of experimentation, which is one thing the chef enjoys about pasta making. “I love that you can use one dough to make long pasta, stuffed pasta … you can use it in many different ways,” he says. 2004 Atwood Ave., 709-1316,

Chen’s Dumpling House
Along with homemade dumplings, Chen’s Dumpling House creates its own noodles for soups and other menu items. Inside the restaurant, the kitchen staff bustles with energy as people catch up with friends over hearty dishes. Chen’s homemade noodles in the noodle soups offer warmth on a chilly day. Visitors can choose from teriyaki eel, roast duck or vegetable soup options. Try the traditional Beijing noodles, also known as fried sauce noodles. They come with seasonal vegetables and Zha Jiang, a sauce made with pork belly, spring onions and soybean paste. Manager Fanny Chen also says the chive and pork dumplings are a popular way to start the meal. “Most people buy frozen dumplings from the market, but we make them fresh. It’s much better,” she says. “We want to keep it Chinese-style, made here for the customers.” At Chen’s, the fresh noodles are equally as important and imperative to keeping tradition and culture alive. 505 State St., 709-5888,

Common Pasta
Sometimes you need your pasta fix on the go. Common Pasta, despite the mobile truck’s name, delivers offerings that are anything but common. Using an extruder, owner Jon Rosnow takes semolina flour and mixes it with whole eggs to make what he considers the perfect dough for all his pastas. “It’s truly amazing to be able to get the type of pasta that we’re creating and sharing that experience through a food cart,” he says. Common Pasta’s weekly specials taste as good as the offerings at any sit-down restaurant, and at $9 per entree, they’re also affordable. Beef short rib ragu and macaroni and cheese are sold daily. The macaroni is a spin on the classic dish, incorporating a blend of Carr Valley cheddar, Roth gouda, BelGioioso grana, chili sofrito, spicy pork sausage and breadcrumbs. Two cold pasta salads counter the menu’s hot pasta options. To add to the carb overload, Rosnow also wakes up early to bake whole-wheat garlic sourdough and sourdough focaccia breads. 1 E. Main St., 772-3650,

Little Tibet
Co-owner Namgyal Ponsar invites people to experience Tibetan food, culture and hospitality at Little Tibet. “I believe it’s good for Madison to have different types of diversity in restaurants,” Ponsar says. The food is simple, intended to make people feel at ease. The Johnson Street restaurant showcases homemade noodles in two dishes: a spicier stir-fried noodle dish and the traditional noodle soup, thukpa. Thukpa comes in three varieties: beef, chicken and vegetable, but all three feature homemade noodles. The flavor in the beef noodle soup comes from a bone broth, while mushrooms give a meaty flavor to the vegetable variety. The house-minced chicken Momo dish is also wildly popular and made with onions, cilantro, garlic and scallions. There are plenty of vegetarian options — such as tofu vegan Momo dumplings. An advocate for small, family-run businesses, Ponsar doesn’t look at Little Tibet as a way to make a profit. She feels a sense of purpose and wants “to give service to the community.” The best compliments she receives are when people compare her dishes to their mother’s or grandmothers’ food. 827 E. Johnson St., 630-8232,

Nonno’s Ristorante Italiano
“People don’t have to leave Madison to experience real Italian food,” says Juan Murillo, owner and one of the chefs at Nonno’s. Murillo makes classic pastas, pizzas, desserts and more, but he isn’t afraid to experiment. “My inspiration for new dishes comes from our customers coming in without knowing what to eat and telling us to make them something that’s not on the menu,” he says. A must-try is the Paglia e Fieno Alla Toscana, an egg and spinach fettuccine. Its Italian ingredients are what make it unique, Murillo says. Packed with onions, diced pancetta, imported prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, three different kinds of mushrooms and pecorino Romano cheese, it hits a lot of flavors at once. “I think that ‘Spaghetti Allo Scoglio’ is one dish that deserves more attention considering all the seafood that is in it,” says Murillo. It includes scallops, shrimp, mussels, Manila clams and swordfish served with white wine tomato basil sauce. Not all pasta dishes are made with homemade noodles, but most dishes can be substituted to include homemade pasta, such as tagliatelle or pappardelle. 704 S. Whitney Way, 661-9254,

Osteria Papavero
Diners are in for an educational experience at Osteria Papavero, a 15-year-old restaurant. Head chef and owner Francesco Mangano’s memories of cooking, eating and traveling with his family have largely shaped his outlook on food. “Food is also culture, so if you stop cooking certain things, products, cuts, vegetables … those ways of doing things get lost in time and then they disappear,” he says. All of the recipes are tried and true, and most ingredients are purchased from local farmers. One popular pasta dish is a tortelli, stuffed with pork and grana cheese and served with San Marzano tomatoes. Almost all the pastas are made by hand. “Even for something like pappardelle, [which] you can successfully make in-house — the secret is in the feeling,” Mangano says. In addition to the focus on handmade items, Mangano also likes to use ingredients that many would consider scraps (like vegetable skins for purees). He says that’s where most of the flavor is. The menu frequently rotates, so there are different featured pastas on any given day. 128 E. Wilson St., 255-8376,

Ruyi Hand Pulled Noodle

person lifting up noodles in a soup from Ruyi Hand Pulled Noodle

Photo by Sharon Vanorny

Those seated inside Ruyi Hand Pulled Noodle can see into the open kitchen and watch the live action. Pasta dough is pulled into individual strings right before customers’ eyes. Adventurous eaters are in for a spicy kick if they eat Ruyi’s “malatang” noodles, which swim in a vegetable- and meat-filled hot pot. Last November the team introduced the dish, which also comes with bok choy, cabbage, bean curd sheet, broccoli, enoki mushrooms, potatoes and bean sprouts. While the braised beef and spicy beef hand-pulled noodles are regular crowd-pleasers, the cold noodle dishes also receive high praise, thanks in part to multiple protein options, including shredded chicken, beef, beef tendon, beef tripe, shrimp, smoked beef or roast duck. 334 State St. 298-7669,

If Hong Gao doesn’t eat noodles every day, she feels like something is missing in her life. For her, the meal represents nostalgia, childhood and memories of her time growing up in Taigu, Shanxi, considered to be the capital of Chinese noodles. “There is a lot of knowledge that is required about how to make things both consistent and delicious,” she says. Gao brought her talents to Madison, where she feels local residents love noodles as much as she does. At Taigu, she keeps the restaurant’s ratio of all-purpose flour to water a secret. The noodle-making process itself is strictly controlled. Gao says Shanxi noodles often go hand in hand with the famous Shanxi “old vinegar,” an ingredient that enhances flavor and is incorporated into several dishes at Taigu. Gao likes the spicy options best, including the spicy scallion cold “youpo mian” noodles and the spicy ginger beef stir-fried noodles. “I am grateful that we have this opportunity to share it with others in a foreign country, so that our local friends can also try the taste of our hometown,” she says. 7610 Elmwood Ave., 831-3458,

Take It Home
You can make your own noodle dishes using fresh pasta made locally.

Container of Taste Republic Pasta next to a bowl of prepared pasta

Courtesy of Taste Republic Pasta

It’s relatively easy to understand the Alimentari motto: “good food, good people.” Customers can order homemade ravioli, tagliatelle or the bestselling bucatini at this Italian product and sandwich shop. Co-owner Bonnie Arent suggests making any one of their pastas at home with fresh tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. 306 S. Brearly St., 665-3650,

RP’s Pasta
RP’s Pasta has been a part of the Madison community since 1995. Founder Peter Robertson creates traditional noodles using eggs from Iowa and semolina from North Dakota. The noodles are made in small batches on Italian machines through a hand-rolled process. RP’s Pasta is part of Tribe 9 Foods, which also owns Yumbutter and Taste Republic, a gluten-free pasta maker.

Taste Republic Pasta
People with celiac disease no longer need to worry about missing out on fresh pasta, because Taste Republic produces affordable, homemade and gluten-free pasta using brown rice flour. Make some gluten-free cauliflower linguine, spinach fettuccine and four-cheese tortelloni. Taste Republic also recently introduced gluten-free ravioli.

Gaby Vinick is an editorial intern at Madison Magazine.

Footer that says Subscribe with covers of Madison Magazine