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A little taste of Italy

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- It is quite a daunting task for every pasta lover to search for the best pasta place in town. A number of friends have complained on how soupy Taiwanese prefer their bolognese, or how a local restaurant's pesto pasta tasted nothing like pesto. We've all had our fair share of deceptive pasta moments, but fret no more as we share with you some of our favorite spots during those days when we feel like having a taste of Italy.

After a long day of shopping in Sogo, swing by Chianti Ristorante at Da An Road Sec. 1 for a sumptuous Italian meal. Sit back and relax with their homey ambiance while choosing from a wide variety of pastas whipped up by Italian chefs. If you're in for a taste bud adventure and would want to try something different, ask for their fettucine in black truffle cream sauce (NT$480). Pasta in narrow flat strips with the earthy flavor of truffles and mushrooms is sure to hit the spot.

When served on your table, first things first- smell the intoxicating scent of truffles, then dig in. If you're on the conservative side and would want to play it safe, Chianti's carbonara is a classic favorite. It's the same fettucine pasta with bacon, cream, and the delicious but lethal-sounding deep-fried poached egg. Although a bit pricey, all pasta noodles are made from scratch, and service is impeccable.

Located on Anhe Road Sec. 1, just behind Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT, is a gem of a pasta restaurant called Solo Pasta Cucina Italiana. The setting has more of a romantic vibe, perfect for dinner dates. One of Solo Pasta's bestsellers is the smoked duck in cream balsamic sauce spaghetti (NT$280).

The vinegar used is just right and not too overpowering, the sauce slightly thick enough to coat the al dente pasta. Savor this dish topped with perfectly smoked duck breast, bacon bits for added texture, and the sweet and tart balsamic cream sauce that complements the pasta, and you're well on your way to pasta heaven. Feeling a bit unsure with the cream balsamic sauce? Their sweet basil pesto spaghettini and squid ink spaghettini are also worth a try.

Nestled along Dunhua South Road Sec. 1 is yet another crowd-pleaser pasta restaurant called Casa della Pasta. Casa della Pasta is always filled with youngsters, groups of friends chatting over plates and plates of pasta. If you don't want to splurge but would love a decent pasta meal, try their pasta dishes with prices starting from NT$100.

So if ever you've given up on the usual 義大利麵 (yi da li mien) at the local resto, don't reach for that microwaveable bolognese at the 7-Eleven. Give yourself a treat and a well-deserved non-soupy, real pesto-tasting pasta meal. Buon appetito!

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