There are six pasta dishes on the menu at Portofino, and it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite. Key to their excellence is the fact that chef Michael LaPlaca makes everything fresh to order, but he also adds unexpected, extra-delicious elements to spark familiar favorites. For example, witness the smoky guanciale, succulent pork belly and caramelized onions adding layers of depth to Portofino’s spaghetti carbonara, which you should attempt to replicate at home.
Portofino Mirage, 866-339-4566. Thursday-Monday, 5-10 p.m.
1 lb. fresh spaghetti (or 1/2 lb. quality dry spaghetti)
12 organic free-range egg yolks
8 oz. grated Parmigiano Reggiano (plus a little extra for finishing)
8 oz. diced braised pork belly
8 oz. finely diced smoked guanciale
4 oz. caramelized onions
8 oz. sweet peas
16 oz. pasta water
Cook the pasta in a large pot of water with a generous amount of sea salt. Render the guanciale over medium heat in a sauté pan. Turn the heat to high, add the diced pork belly and cook until the outside is crispy. Remove the pan from the heat and add the peas and caramelized onions.
As soon as the pasta is cooked perfectly (once the fresh pasta floats or per the recommended time on the box of dry pasta), whisk together the Parmesan and egg yolks and add to the pan. Add the cooked pasta and pasta water to the pan. Work quickly and toss to emulsify the egg, cheese and water to make the creamy sauce (not scrambled eggs). Add fresh cracked pepper and salt to taste. Plate each dish and finish with chopped chives and an extra sprinkle of Parmesan.