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Bowl me over

Six pasta joints to warm your innards on a chilly Atlanta day

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Fuck Atkins and South Beach. When it's time to pull out the sweaters and jackets, I crave plentiful bowls of pasta and warming, hearty sauce -- without a side of apologies or guilt. Here are six Italian faves where I go to hunker down on pasta served with pride.

Pasta da Pulcinella

I'm an old-school customer of this Midtown restaurant, and I still miss its original location in the now-dilapidated strip of businesses across from the Federal Reserve building. I also remember when the Pizzoccheri coi Rapini, a dish that inspires fierce loyalty among its fans, cost $6.95. Times have changed, and the Rapini at twice the price isn't as transcendent as it used to be, but neither does anyone else in town make an earthy, gutsy concoction quite like it. Other old-time winners, as sterling as ever, include the Tortelli di Mele with apple and sausage and the classic, meaty tagliatelle Bolognese.

1123 Peachtree Walk, 404-876-1114, www.pastadapulcinella.com.

Little Azio

This speedy pizza-and-pasta joint is a good choice when you're hungry before a show and don't have time for a lengthy meal. Order at the counter from the mix-and-match menu (angel hair, rigatoni, pesto, marinara -- the standard suspects) and your pasta will be out to you in minutes. I'm stuck on the bowtie-shaped farfalle paired with the Rustica, a feisty combination of sausage and peppers.

903-B Peachtree, 404-876-7711; 749 Moreland Ave., 404-624-0440, www.littleazio.com.

Antica Posta

I make it my business to go to Antica Posta at least once every winter for the tagliatelle with duck ragu. Tomatoey and herbaceous, unctuous yet elegant, it exemplifies the playful push-pull between sophistication and frivolity that makes everyone fall in love with Italy. In the summer, I gravitate to the farfalle with plump crab lumps in white wine. It was a dish also served at Caffe Midtown, Antica Posta's sister restaurant that recently went belly up from lack of business. Midtown's loss.

519 E. Paces Ferry Road, 404-262-7112, www.anticaposta.com.

Figo Pasta

Its sister location Osteria del Figo may have lines out the door that sometimes rival neighbor Taqueria del Sol, but I'll take my business back to the original Figo where I first squeezed onto the tiny counter and savored the butternut ravioli with Mascarpone cream and radicchio. Seating has been recently expanded, so you can now enjoy your preferred pasta-sauce combo -- perhaps mushroom ravioli with mushroom sauce, or gemilli alla carbonara -- with some luxurious elbowroom.

1170 B Collier Road, 404-351-9667, www.figopasta.com.

Sotto Sotto

Oh my. Where to begin? With the silky, Bechamel-based lasagnette? The rich, sensual Tortelli di Michelangelo? The Cappellacci di Zucca, "big hats" filled with butternut squash and sweet potato? If you have even a passing interest in food, you've been here and already have your favorites. Impressively affordable and still vibrantly hip, this is simply the finest Italian restaurant we have, and the pasta selection is the foundation of its excellence. 'Nough said.

313 N. Highland Ave., 404-523-6678, www.sottosotto.com.

Sugo

Frederico Castellucci is the ringleader of this family-oriented spot that specializes in the art of charming overkill. The list of ingredients in each dish astounds. The size of the portions stupefies. If you don't know where to jump in, start with the Pasta Duetto that features two baseball-sized sausage meatballs. Vegetarians will dig Dorothea's garden parpardelle, containing more vegetables in a single offering than I do believe I've ever seen before.

408 S. Atlanta St., Roswell. 770-641-9131, www.sugorestaurant.com.

bill.addison@creativeloafing.com

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