The return of the gourd is one of fall’s best features. Squash of all shapes and sizes are heaped high on roadside farm stands and supermarket shelves. And at the relaxed, warmly lit Paolo’s Trattoria, you can opt for spaghetti squash as a substitute for any pasta dish. We tried it as an alternative to penne in the penne con pollo ($18), which featured medallions of chicken as well as asparagus, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, and sweet onions in a pesto-cream sauce. You could also opt for it in, for example, the aragosta fra diavolo with chunks of lobster in a spicy plum-tomato sauce, or the bucatini al carbonara.
The proxy pasta was not, as we’d expected, orange. And it was not, as we’d expected, starchy, dense, or thick. Instead, it was white like pasta, but more translucent, and it wasn’t crunchy exactly, but had a slight vegetable-like crispness. Spaghetti squash is the name of a particular type of gourd, one that, when cooked, threads like noodles, albeit lighter and less filling ones. Which is a good thing when the sauce and toppings are nearly a meal in themselves.
Paolo’s Trattoria is located at 251 Main Street, in Charlestown. Call 617.242.7229, or visit www.paolosboston.com.