100 Favorite Dishes

100 Favorite Dishes: Spaghetti Alla Carbonara at Spatola

No 67: Spaghetti Alla Carbonara at Spatola
In a city ripe with takes on spaghetti alla carbonara, it's refreshing to find a simple execution of the classic Italian dish at the newly opened Spatola in Highland. After all, what's not to like about a plate of beautiful pasta intertwined with tangy parmesan cheese, crispy pancetta and spicy bits of fresh-cracked black pepper? The short answer is nothing, save the future cravings that you'll surely experience after polishing off a plate of the stuff.

Given owner and chef Francesco Spatola's Italian roots, it's not surprising that he has pulled off such a prime example of this classic Roman-style menu item. In fact, Spatola is a first-generation Italian, and all of the recipes he uses at his casual eatery come from recipes that have been passed down for generations in his family.

One of the tricks to get spaghetti alla carbonara nice and creamy is to utilize raw egg yolk while the pasta is still hot. This technique allows the egg to cook into a sort of creamy sauce that coats the noodles and adds a rich depth enhanced by the salty and savory bits of pork belly. It's exactly what you want out of comfort food while enjoying all elements of a decadent Italian breakfast. And for someone who feels that the first meal of the day should actually be later in the day, this pile of pasta proves to be the perfect brunch item.

Alas, Spatola doesn't offer that hipster weekend meal yet, but you can order the spaghetti alla carbonara for lunch ($11) or dinner ($15). Enjoy it al fresco on the restaurant's tucked-away patio while the weather remains nice, or inside the quaint space, where you can get a glimpse of the open kitchen. Add glass of sangiovese and an order of arancini (fried risotto balls with cheese) and call it a complete Italian meal in the heart of Denver.

Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2016 countdown are linked below.

No. 100: Masala Beef at Biju's Little Curry Shop
No. 99: Bacon Shrimp and Grits at Bacon Social House
No. 98: Porchetta and Kimchi Sandwich at Brider
No. 97: Squab-and-Sunchoke Tortellini at Abejas
No. 96: Housemade Burrata at Viand
No, 95: Schweinshaxe at Rhein Haus
No. 94 Kimchi Jeon at Seoul BBQ
No. 93: Zuppa Pomodoro at Parisi Italian Market & Deli
No. 92: The Ocean Salad at Sushi-Rama
No. 91: The Signature Bowl from Churn & Burn
No. 90: Green Chorizo at Los Compadres
No. 89: The Diavola Calzone at Pino's Neighborhood Pizzeria
No. 88: Biscuits and Green Chile at the Noshery
No. 87: Chirashi at Izu Sushi
No. 86: Brisket and Ribs at GQue Championship BBQ
No. 85: The Tornado at the Chowder Room
No. 84: Korean Fried Chicken Wings at Yong Gung
No. 83: A Meatball Hero at Lil' Ricci's New York Pizzeria
No. 82: Shakshuka at Stowaway Coffee + Kitchen
No. 81: Late-Night Ramen at Brazen
No. 80: Potato Tacos at El Tejado
No. 79: Corned Beef Heart at theWay Back
No. 78: The Fried Bologna Sandwich at Snarfburger
No. 77: Sweet Corn Mezzaluna at Bar Dough
No. 76: Duck Confit at Table 6
No. 75: Croque Monsieur at Fire
No. 74: Tahini Cookies at the Preservery
No. 73: The Alferd Packer Salad at MAD Greens
No. 72: The Tuna Poke Bowl at Ohana Island Kitchen
No. 71: Mini Chile Rellenos at La Loma
No 70: The Combination Banh Mi at Vinh Xuong Bakery
No 69: The Falafel Waffle at Moxie Eatery
No 68: Korean Fried Duck Wings at Chow Urban Grill
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Linnea Covington moved back to Denver after spending thirteen years in New York City and couldn't be happier to be home, exploring the Mile High and eating as much as possible, especially when it involves pizza or ice cream.
Contact: Linnea Covington