It’s not a rarity, but squid-ink pasta is one of those dishes that begs to be ordered whenever you see it on a restaurant menu. The deep black noodles add a seductive element of drama to an otherwise typical plate. At Valenza in Brookhaven, the kitchen adds a literal twist to the recipe with curled pasta named for the shape of a snail’s shell: lumache nero.
Although squid ink is neutral in flavor, pasta made with the deep black ingredient often is paired with seafood. It typically also is seen in long pasta shapes like spaghetti or linguine, so the lumache nero at Valenza is a nice change of pace. The curling, tubular pasta scoops up the deeply savory, spicy sauce in the bowl. Thick slices of garlic cloves, tender after cooking in that same sauce, add even further depth to the dish.
Highlighted by the dark pasta are Georgia red shrimp curled among the shells, bright white and pink. Their vibrant color is matched by their flavor: Cooked to the perfect level of tenderness, the shrimp are sweet and delicate, a clear seafood note above the acidic sauce.
Valenza’s lumache nero takes a classic combination of well-balanced, familiar flavors and adds an air of sophistication with the uniquely shaped black pasta. Eating the lumache nero in Valenza’s cozy, romantic atmosphere, even a typical date night feels like a special occasion.
Valenza. 1441 Dresden Drive, Atlanta. 404-969-3233, valenzarestaurant.com.
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