by Kara Kimbrough
Don’t make the mistake of thinking our state's northern region, comprised of Belzoni, the self-proclaimed “Catfish Capital of the World,” and the mammoth steaks at Greenville's Doe’s, are the sole culinary claims to fame. There are plenty of pasta dishes to sample in north Mississippi; here is a small sample.
Before traveling up I-55 North, a stop in neighboring Vicksburg was in order. The River City is filled with wonderful restaurants offering an enviable array of cuisine. Italian is no exception. Standout dishes are the lasagna at Billy’s Italian Restaurant, seafood pasta at Rusty’s Riverfront Grill (pictured right), and ravioli at Relish.
Once headed north, a detour into Grenada will yield satisfying results courtesy of a stop at Carmella’s. Located a mile or so from the interstate, Grenada’s Italian eatery offers everything from pizza to calzones, but die-hard fans claim pasta is the star. A must-try dish among a variety of choices is shrimp Alfredo. Tangy seafood is combined with sauce, roasted peppers, mushrooms and penne pasta for an unforgettable dish.
A road trip to Tupelo should be everyone’s list in 2021 and not just to tour Elvis’ birthplace. The bustling city is filled with numerous restaurants ranging from historic and locally owned to fine dining. If you think above-average pasta in the mix, you wouldn’t be wrong. Two standouts are Nautical Whimsey Italian and Vanelli’s Bistro. Both are located Main Street in historic downtown Tupelo. Favorites are stuffed ravioli with meat or lobster at Nautical Whimsey and Vanelli’s baked cheese pasta featuring homemade pasta and rich Bolognese sauce.
Last, Oxford’s reputation as a city with a diversified restaurant scene is well-known. From college students on a budget to visiting dignitaries, there’s something please their palate. Tarasque Cucina manages to attract both demographics and those in between with its creative pastas and other Italian specialties. Billed as “Old World comfort food,” the menu surprisingly simple, sticking to salad, pasta, bread and dessert. It’s a hard choice, but rigatoni with sausage and peppers, a decadent dish of homemade sausage, sautéed vegetables, white wine and Pecorino Romano, is a Tarasque standout that shouldn’t be missed.