Photos by kc kratt
Fresh extruded pasta is reserved for those who can afford the equipment to produce it; it’s rarely made at home. There are dozens of variations, but the thing all extruded pasta has in common is a hollow center. In this instance, we’re discussing bucatini, which is a thick and hollow spaghetti-style noodle. Common in Rome, bucatini is an ideal match for simple preparations. It’s often sauced with butter and enhanced by a salty protein like guanciale or sardines.
You’ll find a buttery bucatini downtown in the Genesee Gateway at Marble + Rye. It’s likely most local diners have no idea of the transformation that has occurred within M+R—which has been known for its burgers and cocktails—over the past year. This strictly seasonal and completely scratch restaurant has really hit its stride, and, with that, found an audience for its handmade pasta program. Chef and co-owner Michael Dimmer quickly credits a former line cook, Al Frank, with teaching him to make pasta. It wasn’t something Dimmer was really into before, but he kind of fell in love with the art and its process. Over the course of the past year, he’s purchased an Italian extruder and is running at least four specials featuring handmade pasta every day.
“It took me four months to nail this particular recipe,” Dimmer admits. After buying the extruder, a very pricey piece of equipment, the young chef recalls the months of trial and error it took to develop a dough with enough moisture to work, but not too much moisture, which causes the dough to get caught in the machine. Now the team at Marble + Rye has developed numerous recipes, from a thirty-two egg beauty for cannelloni to a zero-egg recipe for cavatelli. “It’s like baking,” Dimmer says, “one tiny alteration and it becomes a completely different kind of dough. It’s fascinating, really.”
Bucatini is one of Dimmer’s favorites, and perfect for a minimalist recipe like cacio de pepe. Cacio de pepe translates to cheese and pepper, and, when creating it, it’s important that all steps be taken seriously and all ingredients be as close to perfect as possible.
Dimmer, who adheres to seasonality with a resolve usually left for matters of life and death, embraces the cold weather by juicing greens to create a more vegetal bucatini. In summer, mizuna brings a mustardy zing to dishes. In late autumn, bucatini made with Oles Family Farm spinach is featured. Dimmer loves the flavor, “This sounds weird, I know, but that vegetal flavor, that bright green chlorophyll flavor? It really lends so much to the dish.”
In addition to the bucatini made from Oles spinach, Marble + Rye’s cacio de pepe also makes use of local garlic, an item Dimmer is especially fond of. “We have access to amazing garlic here in Western New York, and if you buy as much as you can at the right time of year and store it properly, it pays off all year long.”
“So, that’s it,” he says (as if he hasn’t just described a process that would take most people an entire week to approximate). “Just really good pasta, olive oil, cheese, garlic, a little white wine—oh, and I always mount it with a little butter at the end. Then plate it with some pepper and a little more cheese and you’re good to go.”