I eat a lot of pasta. It’s a running joke among my friends, who delight in poking fun at my latest Instagram post of bucatini all’Amatriciana or pappardelle Bolognese. “Pasta again? Shocker!” is the general tone of the comments. But I’ve always been a little surprised that pasta hasn’t muscled its starchy way onto more breakfast and brunch menus. Am the I the only person who’s seen Neapolitan pies topped with eggs whose runny yolks were just waiting to ooze out mozzarella and tomato, or polenta served with seasonal vegetables and a cloud-like poached egg, and wondered what was so wrong about eating a pile of noodles first thing in the morning? (Maybe.)
But it seems that the tide finally is twirling for my favorite starch, with more chefs looking to the noodle to embrace classic breakfast flavors.
When you think about it, eggs in (or on) pasta are nothing new. Ever heard of carbonara, that classic Roman combo of eggs, cheese, bacon, and black pepper (a.k.a., everything that is good in the world)? Then there was the whole “put an egg on it” phenomenon of a few years ago, in which everything and anything, be it starch, salad or sandwich, was anointed with a fried or poached egg. But still, most of those dishes have been relegated to dinner menus, leaving the most important meal of the day sadly spaghetti-free.
“Chefs are realizing that the combination of flavors works, whether it’s on a noodle or a pizza or on a loaf of bread,” Cleveland-based chef and breakfast pasta proponent Jonathon Sawyer says. “For instance, shakshuka would be great in a pita, but you could also make a shakshuka pasta.”
Here are just a few of the breakfast pastas around the country that are bowling over diners. These aren’t just lunch or dinner dishes that have an egg slapped on top. They’re specifically made for the morning—and who knows, they may show up on my Insta feed in the near future.
Bacon, Egg and Cheese Bolognese at Trentina (Cleveland, OH)
At Sawyer’s Northern Italian restaurant, the chef makes a non-traditional house-made bacon Bolognese (“We’ve fucked around with the sauce before.”) that’s served on semolina bucatini pasta along with a soft-cooked egg, Trenta Grana cheese, and bread crumbs.
Breakfast Gnocchi at Krupa Grocery (Brooklyn, NY)
If you live in South Slope, have had a rough night (it happens) and need relief in the form of carbs ASAP, head to Krupa Grocery, where you can get homemade potato gnocchi topped with fried egg, bacon, kale, kabocha squash, and bread crumbs every damn weekday starting at 9 a.m.
Hangover Pasta at Ornello Trattoria (Queens, NY)
Who needs pasta boiled in water when it can be boiled in milk? Yep, that’s how they do with the pappardelle at Ornello, which is also dressed with bacon, an egg, and truffle oil.
Breakfast Spaghetti ‘N Clams ‘N Crab at Little Goat Diner (Chicago, IL)
The breakfast menu at Stephanie Izard’s West Loop diner is served all day, and unlike any of the other dishes on this list, the pasta (which is also anointed with guanciale and bok choy) is pan-fried. Twirl on those breakfast pasta doubters.
Egg Raviolo at Knead & Co. Pasta Bar (Los Angeles, CA)
At Bruce Kalman’s fast-casual Italian spot in Downtown’s Grand Central Market, the breakfast menu always features this super-sized raviolo, an enriched egg dough filled with house-made ricotta, kale, Parmesan, and egg yolk. It’s then topped with a sauce made from stewed peppers, onion, tomato. and chile flakes. You can add Prosciutto di Parma—and why wouldn’t you?
Sausage, Biscuits & Gravy Breakfast Pasta at Greenhouse Tavern (Cleveland, OH)
“My chef Vincent [Griffith] is a biscuit maniac,” Sawyer explains of the pasta at his “rustbelt joint” in downtown CLE. “We thought, let’s get that nice suet and flour deliciousness and put it on top of pasta.” Said pasta would be linguine, and—oh—there’s also a poached egg on top.
Karen Palmer is the editorial director of Tasting Table and a pasta obsessive.