This speedy pizza-and-pasta joint, particularly the Midtown location, is a good choice when you're hungry before a show and don't have time for a lengthy meal. Order at the counter from the mix-and-match menu (angel hair, rigatoni, pesto, marinara -- the standard suspects) and your pasta will be out in minutes. We're stuck on the bowtie-shaped farfalle paired with the Rustica, a feisty combination of sausage and peppers. 903-B Peachtree St., 404-876-7711; 749 Moreland Ave., 404-624-0440. www.littleazio.com.
If you order the pasta at Osteria 832, be prepared for two things: your plate arriving five minutes after the pizzas, and other people's forks prodding out your pasta goodies. The Bolognese, a classic tomato and meat sauce served with ribbed rigatoni, whistles with a syrupy red wine note behind each gulp of dark meatiness. The boscaiola is downright celebratory; bulbous shells hide plump English peas, niblets of pancetta and cremini mushrooms all melding together in a swirl of spunky cream. 832 N. Highland Ave. 404-897-1414. www.osteria832.com.
Pasta da Pulcinella
We're old-school customers of this Midtown restaurant, and still miss its original location in the now dilapidated strip of businesses across from the Federal Reserve Building. We also remember when the Pizzoccheri coi Rapini, a dish that inspires fierce loyalty among its fans, cost $6.95. Other old-time winners, as sterling as ever, include the Tortelli di Mele with apple and sausage, and the classic, meaty tagliatelle Bolognese. 1123 Peachtree Walk. 404-876-1114.
Oh my. Where to begin? With the silky, Bechamel-based lasagnette? The rich, sensual Tortelli di Michelangelo? Impressively affordable and still vibrantly hip, this is simply the finest Italian restaurant we have, and the pasta selection is the foundation of its excellence. 'Nough said. 313 N. Highland Ave. 404-523-6678. www.sottosottorestaurant.com.
Frederic Castellucci is the ringleader of this family-oriented spot that specializes in the art of charming overkill. The list of ingredients in each dish astounds. The size of the portions stupefies. If you don't know where to jump in, start with the Pasta Duetto, which features two baseball-sized sausage meatballs. Vegetarians will dig Dorothea's garden parpardelle. 408 S. Atlanta St., Roswell. 770-641-9131. www.sugorestaurant.com.
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