Chef Marion Gillcrist opened La Traviata, at 314 Congress Avenue, in 2000. I first ate there shortly thereafter, for dinner. It is a smallish, narrow space, on the West side of Congress, adorned with chandeliers, and a couple of coveted window cubbys in the front, for people watching. Over the years, I’ve had lots of things from the menu, a tenderloin dish that was really memorable, a ravioli of the day that was equally delicious. Their panini at lunchtime are also delicious.
However, at some point in history, I ordered the Spaghetti Carbonara, and I’ve not been able to try anything else since, save for a couple of the appetizers and salad to go with the Carbonara. It was mind-blowing good.
Four years ago last November, I met up with my friend Michelle, writer of the blog Foodie is the New Forty. I had been telling her tales of this Carbonara for a while, and we decided to wait until a cold Winter night, to go. She wrote about that night here:
We have continued our annual Carbonara pilgrimage, and the dish remains as delicious as the first time either of us ever had it. On our recent visit, we started with the Proscuitto di Parma appetizer – Prosciutto di Parma, Endive, Scallions, Olives, Shaved Parmesan and White Truffle Oil.
Michelle’s husband, Chris, started with Soup of the Day, which was Beet Soup.
Our server asked if we had any questions about the menu. A resounding “No” was the universal response and we all ordered the Carbonara.
The menu describes it as Spaghetti tossed with Pancetta, Onion, Cream, Lemon and topped with a Fresh Farm Egg. Immediately upon its arrival, we all puncture the yolk and stir it into the pasta. This adds some extra unctuousness. The pasta is cooked perfectly, the pancetta provides some chew and saltiness, the hint of lemon cuts the richness and the shaved green onions adds the only textural quality that might have been missing, crunch. It is as divine and I always remember it, and certainly well worth the gluten and carb splurge. (Certainly not a wallet splurge at $15.00)
I love that this little place is still cranking out high quality, amazing Italian comfort food, amid the quickly, ever changing food/restaurant scene in this City. I’m always trying to hit up the next new spot that has opened, and watching upcoming opening dates for places that I know I will find interesting. It feels good know that this place will likely still be making this food, in this spot, hopefully for years to come, and that although I don’t get to see my dear friend Michelle nearly enough, I do know that we can always make time for Spaghetti Carbonara.