Black spaghetti at La Pietra Cucina
Pasta infused with squid ink is tossed with rock shrimp, scallions and hot calabrese sausage, inspired by one of Mario Batali's best-known dishes. The velvety noodles temper the slight sting. All in all, this dish is more intense than a codependent relationship. You'll love it even when it hurts. $18. 1545 Peachtree St. 404-888-8709. www.lapietracucina.com.
Carbonara at Holeman & Finch Public House
While the burger might get all the attention, the real late-night savior at H&F is this undersung paragon of simplicity and comfort. Hand-cut pasta dotted with homemade cubes of rendered pancetta are crowned with a perfectly cooked farm egg and wisps of Parmesan. A little tap with your fork lets the golden yolk run and coat the pasta with its own decadent sauce. $12. 2277 Peachtree Road. 404-948-1175. www.holeman-finch.com.
Chengdu cold noodle dish at Gu's Bistro
Thick egg noodles tangled into a tiny bowl are bathed in a sweet and spicy sauce. Oil infused with fried chilies and Szechuan peppercorns brings the heat, while green onion adds a bright pop. Mix it all together in the deep-red dressing, pluck a comically long strand of noodles, and be prepared to fight your tablemate for the last slurp. $7.25. 5750 Buford Highway, Suite A, Doraville. 770-451-8118. www.gusbistro.com.
Giggioto calzone at Antico Pizza Napoletana
As your teeth break through the slightly charred, tangy, bready crust, the rich combination of creamy ricotta and mozzarella oozes into your mouth. The crunch and bitter vegetal yum of broccoli rabe asserts itself, and then the slightly sweet, slightly spicy sausage sexes everything up. Dipped in Antico's bright, warm red sauce, this sloppy extravaganza will have you thanking the sweet baby Jesus for Italy and its influence. $19. 1093 Hemphill Ave. 404-724-2333. www.anticopizza.it.
Gnocchi at Floataway Café
Pillowy gnocchi is slightly browned and crisped, and then tossed with the season's freshest goodies. Right now, that means tangy artichokes, snappy asparagus and mellow favas. A light, buttery lemon sauce coats everything, and each bite is punctuated with fresh herbs — a pop of mint, a sweet burst of basil. Eating it is like taking a rollicking gambol through a spring garden. With your tongue. SHOUT OUT: French fries. $20. 1123 Zonolite Road, Suite 15. 404-892-1414. www.starprovisions.com.
New Haven clam pizza at Varasano's
You can taste the years of research and pizza geekism in the simplicity of Varasano's thin and crisp pizza crust. The complex flavor of the dough sets the stage for the briny clams, pungent fresh chopped garlic, generous dose of olive oil, and freshly chopped herbs to shine. A trip to New Haven has never been so easy. $14.95. 2171 Peachtree Road. 404-352-8216. www.varasanos.com.
Spicy cold noodles at Chef Liu
A mound of fresh egg noodles coated in a nutty and pasty dressing are unceremoniously piled onto an oval plate. Sticky, fun and spicy from a last-minute layer of crushed deep red chili flakes showered on top, each chopstick full is a seductive mixture of sweet comfort and alluring pain. SHOUT OUT: Soup dumplings. $3.95. 5221 Buford Highway. 770-936-0532.
Tomato and basil spaghettini with veal meatballs at La Tavola Trattoria
A bright, tart red sauce coats impossibly thin spaghettini that just begs to be slurped up greedily. Baseball-sized meatballs combine veal and pork, and manage to achieve that perfect meatball flavor — lighter than sausage, heftier and juicier than meatloaf. Mamma mia. $16.50. 992 Virginia Ave. 404-873-5430. www.latavolatrattoria.com.
Wait, so Waffle House Waffles aren't veggie-friendly?
Does CL need food writers?
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