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Capitol Hill Cooks | Italian comfort food inspired by the corner of 15th and Pine

Imagine yourself in a tiny hillside town outside Venice, in your Nonna’s kitchen, sighing with happiness as you dig into a steaming, aromatic bowl of fresh pasta.  Italy not in your plans this year?  Then imagine yourself at the corner of 15th and Pine, cozy in a corner of Anchovies & Olives, savoring new chef Zach Chambers’ version of the same. 

Spicy. Savory. A touch of garlic. The salt and depth of anchovies.  Light, crisp breadcrumbs.  The year after it opened, Ethan Stowell’s Anchovies & Olives was named among the top ten new restaurants in the country by both Bon Appétit and GQ.  And I know why.  It’s the whole experience, sure, but especially this pasta.

And now imagine yourself, less from an hour from now, exultantly serving your friends or family an equally impressive bowl of pasta with garlic, chili and anchovies at your very own table. Could you serve it as part of your Super Bowl spread? Beats bean dip.

Many thanks to Ethan Stowell for sharing his recipe, a staple of the Anchovies & Olives menu, with CHS readers.

A few notes for the home cook from my recipe-testing experience:


  • I wish you luck finding fresh bigoli at your favorite Capitol Hill grocery store.  Here’s Mario Batali’s recipe if you want to make your own (and have a meat grinder handy).  I used dried bucatini (pictured in the photos), which is a similar shape, but you may prefer to seek out a fresh pasta for the texture contrast between its tenderness and the crispy breadcrumbs.  But I will tell you this: for the purpose of scientific inquiry alone (of course!), I also made this recipe with plain old spaghetti and whole wheat spaghetti.  Every variation was delicious.
  • The breadcrumb recipe below makes more than you need for the pasta.  So you could reduce it by half (you’ll still have extra), or you could just plan to find another use for all those delicious fresh breadcrumbs.
  • Be sure you have a chunk of good bread handy to soak up the decadent slick of oil in the bottom of the dish. 

Buon appetito.

Bigoli with Garlic, Chili, and Anchovy
Recipe provided by Chef Ethan Stowell

1 lb. bigoli pasta
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 t. chili flakes
12 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley, packed
4 T. breadcrumbs (recipe follows)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions, less one-minute.

While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a large sauté pan. Add garlic, chili flakes, and anchovy. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, until garlic is soft and anchovies melt into the oil.

When pasta is done, drain and tip into sauté pan. Add parsley and toss well. Divide between four deep bowls and top each with a generous tablespoon of breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.

Fried Breadcrumbs:
1/2 lb. bread slices, stale or lightly toasted
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed with knife
Put garlic and oil in saucepan over low heat. Allow to infuse for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, put bread slices in food processor. Pulse to chop then process for one to two minutes, or until finely ground. Add crumbs to garlic oil and cook over low heat for two to three minutes or until crumbs have toasted and absorbed the oil. Season with kosher salt. Crumbs will keep in an airtight container for about two weeks.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

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8 years ago

This is great. And a great idea for a recurring feature — recipes from neighborhood chefs.

8 years ago

The new chef sounds fantastic, but A&O won’t be getting any more of my business. The last 2 times I was there with friends, our server was downright rude to our party. The last time, we politely asked for pepper and salt only to be scolded and chided that we should “taste it first.” 10 minutes later the pepper and salt were brought over, along with a loud sigh.

8 years ago

You should send an email to the management about your experience. I’ve eaten at A&O more times than I can count and most of the servers have been great, I can’t imagine that your experience is what they’re going for.

8 years ago

You asked for pepper? Really?

Salt, I get, not everyone has the same salt preferences. But pepper, you’re just screwing with the food at that point.

8 years ago

Really, I do get your point (really I do), but let’s be clear: It’s YOUR food, you’re paying for it. If you want to f**k it up, it’s your own business, right? The server could’ve found a better way to convey their message, but in the end, they should just STFU.

8 years ago

Thanks for sharing this recipe. I’ve always loved this dish at Anchovies & Olives, so as soon as I saw your post this morning, I decided to make it tonight. And it was *almost* as tasty as the A&O version. The Mario Batali bigoli recipe is good, but next time, I’d use only half-whole wheat — 100% was a bit too much.

It did make me feel like I was at 15th and Pine … no small feat, because I’m 700 miles away. Another reason to read CHS, even if you live in California. :-)

Now, if you can get that soft-cooked egg recipe out of them, I’ll really be impressed!

8 years ago

This is a good example of the reality that, even if a restaurant’s food is fantastic, poor/surly service can totally ruin the experience. I’m sure it is a real challenge for restaurant owners to hire and keep experienced/ friendly servers….so many servers are just doing it for awhile as they are trying to figure out what to do with their lives. I wish we had a culture like in Europe, where most waiters are in it as a long-term career.

8 years ago

Of course, a part of that equation of it being a long-term career is that European waiters actually get paid decent living wages, unlike waiters here. We’d probably have to see tips built into the food costs (which I think would be great, actually), and restaurant food would consequently cost more. I suspect there’s not a lot of appetite for that idea, unfortunately.

epicurian philistine
8 years ago

OK, I have an embarrassing question to ask, so much so I’m not even going to use my regular on-screen drag name to ask…

I despise anchovies on pizza and in general, though I love a properly prepared Caesar Salad where anchovies are ground up into the dressing the way they’re supposed to be (not laid across the top, ick).

When this dish is properly prepared, would one have to generally like anchovies to appreciate it? Or, is this like anchovies in a Caesar dressing, where after ground up they integrate into the dressing and don’t taste like, well…super-salty little fishies?

8 years ago

Dear E.P.,
The anchovies are certainly a predominant flavor in this dish. That said, they do dissolve completely into the oil, so it’s not like biting into a salty anchovy on top of your pizza. You could start by using fewer anchovies and taste the sauce as you go along, adding as many as you like. If you use fewer anchovies, you will want to compensate by adding more salt. Enjoy!