100 Favorite Dishes 2012: No. 39, Rigatoni in Bolognese Sauce at Paulie's

Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
This year leading up to our annual Best of Houston® issue, we're counting down our 100 favorite dishes in Houston. This list comprises our favorite dishes from the last year, dishes that are essential to Houston's cultural landscape and/or dishes that any visitor (or resident) should try at least once.

Not too long ago, Paulie's Restaurant barely registered on my radar. I didn't dislike Paulie's; rather, I just hadn't found anything there that merited faithful visits to the Montrose restaurant. It was definitely cute and cozy, but the food was -- to my mind, at least -- just pleasantly average.

That was before Paul Petronella took over the kitchen at his parents' restaurant and turned the tables on us all. In a year's time, Paulie's has gone from nonentity to one of my favorite and most reliable neighborhood restaurants. Part of the reason is that Petronella is now making all of Paulie's pastas in-house with an Italian pasta extruder, including the pasta for his rigatoni alla bolognese.

The difference between freshly made pasta and dried pasta is just extraordinary. There's a tug and a pull to the fresh stuff that's not normally there in dried, and it's a texture that you want to chase over and over again with each new bite. It's tender but chewy, soft but firm and bordering on addictive. The bolognese sauce on the rigatoni holds its own, though, made with both beef and veal in a light, creamy tomato sauce with plenty of fresh herbs scattered on top.

Make sure you save room for dessert and coffee, too; these are just two additional reasons that Paulie's has become such a powerhouse. The cookie's at Paulie's have always been good and now they're married with gelato from the Eatsie Boys and an excellent espresso program from Greenway Coffee owner David Buehrer.

The list so far:

No. 100: Chili cheese mac at Jus' Mac
No. 99: Texas turkey sandwich at Spec's
No. 98: Custard at Petite Sweets
No. 97: Caprichos mixtos at Taqueria Monterrey Chiquito
No. 96: Pineapple-wasabi burger at Lankford Grocery
No. 95: Farmer's MKT Pizza at Phoenicia's MKT Bar
No. 94: Potatoes at Money Cat Brunch
No. 93: Breakfast tacos at Sunrise Taquito
No. 92: Hot dog at Tacos D.F.
No. 91: Avocado gelato at Frozen Cafe
No. 90: Chicken sandwich at JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers
No. 89: Beer-battered asparagus at Hearsay
No. 88: Honey Badger omelet at Kraftsmen Cafe
No. 87: Pastelitos de carne at El Jalapeño
No. 86: Pancakes at Union Kitchen
No. 85: Wild boar and crab pizza at Boheme
No. 84: Breakfast croissant at BB Donuts
No. 83: Pretzel at Anvil Bar & Refuge
No. 82: Short rib sandwich at Shepherd Park Draught House
No. 81: Grilled shrimp po-boy at Pappadeaux
No. 80: Dahi puri at Shiv Sagar
No. 79: Aporreado at Los Corrales
No. 78: Oxtail francobolli at Aldo's Cucina Italiana
No. 77: Tonkotsu at Cafe Kubo's
No. 76: Spinach danish from Angela's Oven
No. 75: Pupusas at El Petate
No. 74: Pheasant dog at Sammy's Wild Game Grill
No. 73: X-Tudo burger at Friends Pizzeria
No. 72: Esparragos gratinados at Tintos
No. 71: Gua bao at Yummy Kitchen
No. 70: Geisha dog at Happy Endings
No. 69: Oyster po-boy and gumbo at Goode Co. Seafood
No. 68: Ceviche at Sirena Seafood
No. 67: Caldo de mariscos at Taqueria Arandas
No. 66: Banana pudding at Pizzitola's
No. 65: Fried catfish and gumbo at Cafe-A-La
No. 64: Soft-shell crabs at Banana Leaf
No. 63: Macaroni and cheese at Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse
No. 62: Torta burger at El Gran Malo
No. 61: Black bean burger at Ziggy's
No. 60: Parillada at Pampa Grill
No. 59: Peanut butter and jalapeño jelly burger at Wicked Whisk
No. 58: Eggplant involtini at Giacomo's Cibo e Vino
No. 57: Lone Star dog at James Coney Island
No. 56: Sushi at Sushi Miyagi
No. 55: Palestinian chicken at Al Aseel
No. 54: Roast beef sandwich at Local Foods
No. 53: Mexico City plate at Molina's Cantina
No. 52: Tacos at Brothers Taco House
No. 51: Branzino at Lucio's BYOB
No. 50: Beef sweetbreads at Feast
No. 49: Golden Doomba Special at the Rice Box Truck
No. 48: Malted waffle at City Cafe
No. 47: Banh mi bo kho at Cafe TH
No. 46: Chicken fried steak at Triple A
No. 45: Larissa plate at Harry's
No. 44: Spaghetti carbonara at Coppa Ristorante Italiano
No. 43: Wings and grits at The Breakfast Klub
No. 42: Frito pie at C&D Burger Shoppe
No. 41: Pollo con mole at El Gallo de Jalisco
No. 40: Fried avocado taco at H-Town StrEATs

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Location Info


1834 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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FattyFatBastard topcommenter

The bolognese recipe by Fabio Viviani is amazing.  I've made it at two dinner parties to rave reviews. 


The problem I saw was very few tables and very long order line.  Maybe I'll try take-away.

kshilcutt moderator editor

 @Houstess I've noticed that by the time you get to the counter to order, at least a couple of tables have opened up. And the line moves fairy swiftly. (Also, when it gets cooler, sitting outside is fun.)

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