This thing you should try (while you can): Urbana’s gluten-free tagliatelle with Bolognese

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.)

The tagliatelle with bolognese and parmigiano reggiano at Urbana. (Holley Simmons for The Washington Post)

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.

More from The Post: Where's the Wheat? Washington's best gluten-free pizza.

Holley Simmons is the dining editor of The Washington Post Express. When she’s not reporting on local restaurants and tastemakers, you can find her sewing a dress from a 1950s pattern or planting a windowsill herb garden. Contact her at
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