Pasta Carbonara at Café Mezzaluna

Pasta Carbonara at Café Mezzaluna in Ottawa

The Café Mezzaluna was once the restaurant located in the Cartier Place Hotel in Ottawa. It has been replaced now, with Big Daddy’s Bourbon Street Bistro, but I enjoyed a number of meals at the place during several successive stays at the hotel. It was, as the name suggests, an Italian eatery, and some of their dishes were fairly traditional, and some less so. Their Pasta Carbonara, pictured above, really departed from what most would consider to be a ‘true’ Carbonara dish, but I still enjoyed it very much.

The menu at Café Mezzaluna described this dish as being ‘Linguine with Onions, Pancetta, Eggs and Black Pepper in a Cream Sauce’.

Now the use of Linguine was itself a little unorthodox, as spaghetti is by far the most common form of pasta used in Carbonara dishes. Still, I doubt even purists would have too many conniption fits of the substitution in this case, as both pastas hold sauce in much the same way, and I use it myself for this dish sometimes.

Now, in fairness to Café Mezzaluna, they did use Pancetta for their version of this dish. Traditionally, either this pork product, or Guanciale are considered proper, but often, both in home preparations and even restaurant dishes, smoked bacon is used. Here, though, they sliced their Pancetta into thick, postage-stamp sized pieces rather than cubes or thick match-sticks, and I like the effect very much.

Where this restaurant really veered away from classical tradition, however, was the inclusion of both onion and cream. Purists will insist that neither garlic, or onion, has any place in a traditional Carbonara dish, and are adamant that the creaminess must come from the egg, and NOT cream.

Well, I am not going to weigh in on whether the inclusion of either of these completely disqualifies a dish from being a ‘true’ Carbonara, as I believe that traditions change, and being too dogmatic in one’s approach often means you will end up being ‘wrong’ when the popular becomes the traditional. Suffice it to say, I liked this interpretation and will employ some of the variations if the mood suits.


Comments, questions or suggestions most welcome!