Budget Bites: Pasta Mama (Gourmet World-Class Dish)
A famous restaurant, Hugo’s, in West Hollywood, Calif., has been critically acclaimed for one of its menu items, Pasta Mama—gourmet, world-class fare. And you can make it just like Hugo’s chef for about $1.25 per serving—even at the current high cost of food in the U.S.
The first time I heard about it, I thought it was odd. Pasta with eggs? I couldn’t imagine what would prompt people to drive many miles to get the restaurant’s signature dish, Pasta Mama. But they do, insisting, it’s the best pasta dish they’ve ever eaten. I had to try it; as you might imagine, my family and I love it. I would describe it to you here, but it’s indescribable—indescribably delicious, that is.
Skip the trip
But I don’t drive to Hugo’s to pay $17 (plus tax and tip) for a single serving. Instead, I make it myself, following my copycat recipe below. What a wonderful, simply satisfying dinner—or breakfast—entree.
Pasta Mama* takes about 10 minutes from start to finish and feeds two for a total of about a buck-twenty-five per serving. Don’t worry, the recipe can be easily doubled, with excellent results.
At that price, you have little to lose if you try it and don’t like it, but chances are really good that you’ll love it.
In fact, I won’t be surprised to hear that you’ve added Pasta Mama to your family’s list of favorite meals. Serve it once a week and your grocery budget will love you.
(Complete printable recipe below)
- pasta, spaghetti, or fettucini
- fresh garlic
- garlic powder
- ground oregano
- onion powder
- seasoning salt
- fresh parsley
- olive oil
- pasta water
- Parmesan cheese
*Hugo’s Pasta Papa has additional toppings of bacon, turkey sausage, and scallions, for $20.
- 5 oz pasta dry or fresh, like fettuccini or spaghetti
- 2 eggs beaten
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp ground oregano
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp seasoning salt
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil or butter
- 2 - 3 tbsp reserved pasta water or water
- 1 tbsp grated Parmesan
- Prepare pasta according to package directions (or use any kind of leftover pasta).
- While pasta is cooking, mix seasonings together in a small bowl and beat the eggs in another bowl. Set both aside.
- Pour oil (or melt butter) in a 10-inch saute pan. Add minced garlic and the entire amount of seasoning mix (should be 1 teaspoon total).
- Saute for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add parsley; add hot pasta right out of the cooking water along with one tablespoon of pasta cooking hot water. (If you are using leftover pasta, make sure it is hot!)
- Add the beaten eggs. Mix thoroughly (stir hard and fast alternating with tossing it in the pan using tongs. You want the egg to coat the pasta, not turn into a side of scrambled eggs 🙂 Add more pasta water as needed if it looks dry.
- Add Parmesan. Toss and allow to cook for an additional 30 seconds. Serve immediately.
Pasta Mama has as many variations as you can dream up. To make it Pasta Papa, add anything you would put in an omelet—other cheeses, sausage, bacon, chicken; adjust seasonings to taste. Enjoy!
Original 2-13-2015; Revised & Updated 1-22-2023
Many, many years ago I found a recipe called “Pasta Pie a la Bison” which mixed spaghetti with eggs, parmesan cheese, melted butter and a few other ingredients to use as the crust for pie. We loved the crust so much that I would sometimes make it to eat on a plate instead of making it into the pie crust. Funny to see the basic part of this old recipe from Bison having more spices added to then become a signature dish of a famous restaurant. Old recipes coming around again and made new!
Carbonara is done all types of ways, usually with pancetta or bacon, but this would be one version of it.