Mad Tomato's Cavatelli with Spring Lamb Ragù: One of 100 St. Louis Dishes You Must Eat Right Now

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The Gut Check One Hundred is our accounting of the 100 dishes in St. Louis that you must eat right now. These are the best dishes at the newest restaurants and the newest dishes at the best restaurants. These are the 100 dishes that define St. Louis dining in 2013. Our list culminates this fall when the Riverfront Times Best of St. Louis 2013 names the "Best Dish" of the year.

The cavatelli with spring lamb ragù | Ian Froeb
  • The cavatelli with spring lamb ragù | Ian Froeb

Can you serve a hearty, meaty pasta dish that still evokes the lighter, brighter flavors of spring?

Yes is the emphatic answer from Mad Tomato (8000 Carondelet Avenue, Clayton; 314-932-5733), where Vito Racanelli Jr.'s new spring menu includes several standout dishes, cavatelli with a spring lamb ragù among them.

See Also: - Mad Tomato's True Chitarra Pasta with Artichokes: What to Eat This Weekend and Where to Eat It - Ian Froeb's RFT Review of Mad Tomato (2011) - Jennifer Silverberg's RFT Slideshow of Mad Tomato (2011)

The acidity of the tomato and the naturally verdant flavor of the lamb brighten what might appear to be a heavy red sauce. If it isn't light, per se, it is certainly lighter in flavor than a beef- or pork-based concoction. A few slivers of shiitake mushroom and grated pecorino cheese give the dish an earthy, salty backbone.

Yet the star of this dish is the pasta itself. The plump cavatelli look like gnocchi, but they have a more substantial body. They are no mere scoop for the sauce. They have a mild, but definite flavor and a good chew. They, more so than the lamb or any of the sauce's accents, are what make this a complete and fully satisfying meal.

Is there a dish that you think belongs among the Gut Check One Hundred 2013? Let us know!

The Gut Check One Hundred 2013 (So Far)

The "Pork-n-Beans" at A Good Man Is Hard to Find | Ian Froeb
  • The "Pork-n-Beans" at A Good Man Is Hard to Find | Ian Froeb

- A Good Man Is Hard to Find's "Pork-n-Beans" - The Kitchen Sink's Corn Fritters - Chop Shop's "El Camino" Roll - Quincy Street Bistro's BLT - Home Wine Kitchen's Fried Chicken - Riverbend Restaurant & Bar's Red Beans and Rice - Fork & Stix's Sai Oua with Naam Prik Nuum - Gobble Stop Smokehouse's Turkey Tips

The burrito (with spicy pork) at Seoul Taco | Ian Froeb
  • The burrito (with spicy pork) at Seoul Taco | Ian Froeb

- Seoul Taco's Burrito - Five Star Burger's Green Chile Cheeseburger - Olio's Octopus Salad - Dressel's Porchetta "Louie" - Cleveland- Heath's Seared Beef Tongue - Cleveland-Heath's Cauliflower Soup - Pastaria's Italian Ramen

The "Grove" pizza at Pi Pizzeria | Ian Froeb
  • The "Grove" pizza at Pi Pizzeria | Ian Froeb

- Pi Pizzeria's "Grove" Pizza - Famous Szechuan Pavilion's Spicy Wonton Soup (Novice) or Yu Shan Pork (Advanced) - La Tejana Taqueria's Goat Soup - Hendricks BBQ's Ribs - Sauce on the Side's "Costanza" Calzone - Siete Luminarias' Guanajuato-Style Carnitas - Fork & Stix's Khao Soi

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