Let’s just get this out of the way: Regular pasta tastes better.
But, you have to hand it to Urbana chef Ethan McKee, who -- after more than eight months of recipe tweaking -- has struck gluten-free gold with his pasta dough that eschews traditional flour for a mix of chickpea flour, potato starch, fava bean flour and white sorghum.
McKee is offering six types of noodles on Urbana’s gluten-free dinner menu -- including squid ink bucatini, spinach pappardelle and fettuccine -- which are available until July 1, when the restaurant will shut down for five weeks to undergo a $600,000 design makeover. (Don’t fret: the same menu will be available once operations resume.)
Of the bunch, the tagliatelle with Bolognese ($14) is the standout. Though it lacks the al dente crunch of traditional pasta, the noodles are so thin and wide that you barely notice it’s missing. That it’s drenched in a thick, beefy red sauce and topped with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano certainly doesn’t hurt.
The pastas are just a small sub-section of Urbana’s extensive gluten-free offerings, which also includes sides like spicy rapini (a job well-done) and three types of pizza (could still use some work).
“A lot of our food is naturally gluten-free,” says McKee, who adds that his cooking is aimed at modern palates. “It’s a little old-fashioned to cook with flour.”
Urbana, 2121 P Street NW (Metro: Dupont Circle). 202-956-6650. www.urbanadc.com.