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Desert Companion

Eat this now: Hamburger and spaghetti

Our favorite recent dishes that have us coming back for seconds


Hamburger at P.J. Clarke’s

This might be the perfect burger. It is neither too big nor too small, not too thick nor too thin. What arrives is a small, round plate, with a thick-cut Bermuda onion sitting under a perfectly plain, perfectly fresh bun that is perfectly content to let the beef do the talking. That beef is all a perfect hamburger needs to be: clean, rich, Meyer Ranch beef, correctly ground (not too fine), packed (not too tight), seasoned right and proportional to the bread. In other words: perfect. — John Curtas

inside the Forum Shops at Caesars, 434-7900


Spaghetti al’aglio e olio e pepperocino at Bratalian Neapolitan Cantina

There is a delicious, deceptive simplicity to good Italian-American food that is lost at all the faux franchises and cookie-cutter noodle parlors. Spaghetti al’aglio e olio e pepperocino is a case in point. It’s simple spaghetti with oil and garlic, with a touch of hot peppers — one of the most basic of all recipes in the Ital-American canon — but one most often fouled up by cooks not taking the time to cook the garlic and peppers properly. It must be prepared slowly until the garlic slivers attain an almost caramelized, nutty sweetness. When made correctly, it is the consummate peasant pasta dish that gives almost magisterial pleasure. Bratalian’s version is fit for a king. — J.C.

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