At this city pasta joint a glowing neon noodle leads you from the street-level foyer of the Cranker up the stairs to the laid-back diner. The simple but kitschy fit-out echoes the old-school interior of cross-town mates Sunny’s.
In the main room there’s a central bar stocked with Italian wine varietals; olive-green booth seating; and mismatched black-and-white photographs. A second bar on the balcony has sparkling water on tap to cleanse the palate between dinner and dolce (dessert).
Start with crumbed, fried artichokes; okra and Brussels sprouts; or a knot of burrata before the main event: spaghetti. Expect classic cacio e pepe; carbonara with smoked eel and portobello mushroom; and pappardelle with a beef-cheek, ox-tongue and red-wine ragu. A gluten-free option features zucchini noodles tossed with cherry tomatoes, basil, ricotta and spinach.
Of course, Midnight Spaghetti is the star. The rustic red-sauce pasta with anchovies, pangrattato (breadcrumbs) and chili has long been a go-to among kitchen staff at the end of a long shift, or an impromptu late-night dinner option.
Naturally, the wine list leans towards Italy. Fiano, montepulciano, sangiovese and nero d’avola come from local and Italian producers, and there’s an exclusive garganega from the King Valley.
Wednesdays are notte di famiglia (“family night”), which means $15 bowls of spaghetti and cheap jugs to coincide with the Cranker’s famous $3 schooner night.