An Italian tradition that has gone on to dominate the world, pasta is arguably the ultimate comfort dish. Ribbons of soft, springy dough are the perfect accompaniment to all sorts of meats, veggies and sauces, making pasta one of the world’s most flexible ingredients. Though pasta is traditionally served as a small dish in its native Italy, such is its versatility that some plates around the world have become synonymous with excess. These different recipes vary in size, in price and ingredients, but all are enormously over the top. Here is our list of the world’s most decadent pasta dishes.
We begin with a dish that may not be the biggest, but still punches well above its weight. Unlike other restaurant specific recipes, tajarin is a regional specialty from Piedmont in Northern Italy. The thin noodles are made with roughly three times the egg yolk of normal pasta, making them exceptionally rich. These are then topped with butter, handfuls of parmigiano reggiano and shavings of fresh white truffle, which can sell for $2,000 a pound. It may look humble, but this tradition is a definite decadence.
2. Mac and Cheese
Few weekday staples can claim to be as indulgent as a good mac and cheese. A dish built on layers of carb, this recipe is the ultimate stodgy treat. While there are literally thousands of variations on the traditional recipe, the most decadent has to be the Fat Mac Challenge at Fat Cat restaurant in Quincy, Massachusetts. This gargantuan undertaking weighs in at over 6lbs and contains manchego, parmesan, cheddar, blue cheese, lobster, steak, crab, shrimp, chicken and hot dogs. Anyone who successfully completes a plateful is rewarded with a T-shirt - presumably extra large.
3. Cheese Wheel Pasta
Pasta and cheese were born for each other. While convention dictates that cheese be either grated on top or mixed into a sauce, a number of restaurants around the world have come up with a way of taking cheesy pasta to the next level. Cheese wheel pasta is made by twirling freshly cooked spaghetti in the middle of a block of Grana Padano. As more and more hot pasta is gradually added to melt more cheese, the flavours mix and become incredibly decadent and complex. Not only does it look spectacular, but this dish is possibly the cheesiest plate of pasta you could ever wish to find.
4. Pasta Napoletana
Since pasta is so flexible, it’s difficult to get a grasp on how one decadent dish can stack against another. Fortunately, a report by Center for Science in the Public Interest has revealed one particular pasta plate that blows competitors completely out of the water.
Cheesecake Factory’s Pasta Napoletana is a deceptively small bowl of pure indulgence. Tipping the scales at a colossal 2,300 calories, the recipe features spaghetti tossed in a parmesan cream sauce and meat ragout featuring pepperoni, bacon, sausage and meatballs. With more than two days’ worth of salt in a single portion, diners are advised to save this dish for special occasions.
5. BiCE Bolognese
While a host of high end restaurants have produced their own pricey plates of pasta, there is only one decadent bowl that can claim to be the most expensive. BiCE restaurant in New York has created a dish that will set customers back an eye-watering $2,000. Served on a gold plate designed by Gianni Versace and made from taglioni noodles, fresh Maine lobster and a whole heap of black truffles, the BiCE Bolognese is a ludicrously expensive plate that, if only by virtue of price, is undoubtedly one of the most decadent plates of any food money can buy.
Pasta comes in all shapes and sizes. Popular all over the world, the sheer number of people experimenting with the comfort food classic makes it incredibly difficult to definitely say what might be the world’s most decadent. What we can say for certain is that these five dishes will be up there with the best of them.