All over the world, carnivals sell street foods that represent individual cultures. In the U.S., that often means funnel cake, a hot dog on a bun, popcorn, fried anything, and plenty of animal products on sticks. For Italians, it’s the usual fare packaged in handheld form — risotto transformed into portable balls (arancini) and gelato smooshed into sliced bread (brioche con gelato).
Back in the 1950s, that custom included pasta in a cone. Inspired by the street food festivals of the mid-century, Emanuele Attala, chef-owner of the West Village Malatesta and Malaparte, has opened Spaghetti Incident (231 Eldridge Street; 646-896-1446) with partners Ettore Pardossi and Giovanni Gentile. The Lower East Side restaurant serves only long pasta, served in a cone when ordered to go.
“The idea came from a tradition typical from my region, Romagna, that’s located on the Adriatic coast,” Attala tells the Voice. “I remember seeing pictures of people walking on the lungomare [boardwalk] with a cone of wrapped paper in their hands. At that time, Italy was poor and most of the food was street food served in paper cones: fried food, pasta, fruit, candies. The paper was called carta oleata because it was waxed and wouldn’t let the oily sauce go through.”
With that, a restaurant concept was born. For months, Attala, Pardossi, and Gentile worked on developing the cone. They went on a full-scale search, looking for the ideal non-spill material that could stand up to New Yorkers intent on eating pasta while walking around — hey, we’ve all seen someone scarfing Cup Noodles while sprinting through the subway. The original idea was to open a takeout and delivery joint, scouring the city for locations. Then, when the trio happened to find a place with good bones and an open kitchen, they slightly altered their design. In late May, the eatery opened its doors for dinner service. In a couple of weeks, it will be adding a takeout window in the front, utilizing the specialty cones.
Spaghetti Incident offers nine pasta dishes, ranging from $8 to $12. There’s classic carbonara ($11) with crispy pancetta, parmigiano, organic egg yolk, and black pepper. Bucatini amatriciana ($10) is another Roman favorite, with sautéed onion and pancetta in tomato sauce. Pesto gets an extra dose of nutrients in a bucatini ($12) made with kale, walnuts, garlic, and parmigiano in a light cream sauce. The salmone and asparagi ($12) includes homemade fresh spaghetti with steamed asparagus, capers, and chopped fresh salmon cooked in a creamy vodka sauce.
Make sure to try the bucatini trevigiana ($10) with Italian bacon, pine nuts, and radicchio in cream. Spaghetti and similar shapes came about from a practical perspective; it’s easier to eat in this format. “Long pasta is perfect to be rolled up in a circular shape like a cone and to have the sauce embracing it,” Attala says. “A cone is a hug to pasta.”
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