Carl Alasko | Il Vecchio

Tradition is probably the most important ingredient in Italian cuisine. Italy’s most prized dishes don’t push culinary boundaries, they highlight classic tastes and techniques. That’s especially true at Pacific Grove’s il vecchio, a concept inspired by the bustling trattorias of Rome.

Roman pasta alla carbonara has become il vecchio’s signature, but a second secret dish has developed a cult following of its own. You won’t find spaghetti aglio e olio on the printed menu, but it’s a favorite of the restaurant’s regulars.

Hailing from Naples, this dish starts with a hot pan and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Garlic, then dried chili flakes, sweat in the hot oil. That process infuses flavor and gives the dish a gentle bite.

Spaghetti—cooked al dente, of course—comes next. Some firm flicks of the pan toss that infused oil over the pasta. Last comes a liberal dusting of Parmesan cheese and finely chopped parsley.

That’s all there is to it. This is a simple recipe with rustic roots and no gastronomic gimmicks. And that’s what makes it stand out.

IL VECCHIO, 110 Central Ave., Pacific Grove. 324-4282,

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