BoccaLupo has only been open since 2013, but chef Bruce Logue started developing the recipe for his signature black spaghetti over a decade ago. His inspiration stemmed from his time at Babbo, where Mario Batali served a black spaghetti topped with chorizo, shrimp, and jalapeno pesto. “When I went out on my own, I copied that dish,” Logue says. “But I needed to make it my own dish.”
His first step was to make his own sausage. “We were using somebody else’s sausage. The flavor was excellent, but it just didn’t feel right. It’s an Italian kitchen,” he says. He spent months experimenting with recipes, moving away from the Southwestern flavors of Batali’s dish. Eventually, he found a combination of pork shoulder, fatback, garlic, and calabrian chilies that would break apart in the pan and had enough fat to make a pan sauce.
He first served the dish in 2008, when he moved back to Atlanta and opened La Pietra Cucina in Buckhead. Still, Logue thought there was one big missing piece. “We used to buy our pasta, but our goal was to extrude all our own pasta,” he says. So while he was opening his new Inman Park restaurant, he spent six months perfecting the recipe. “You can take flour and water and extrude your own pasta, but when you’re dealing with it in a restaurant it needs to sit on the table for 10 minutes while people chat and sip wine,” he says.
The dish is now consistently the restaurant’s best seller. Logue estimates that he serves upwards of 100 orders each week. “It’s the most put together, crave-worthy dish I’ve ever come up with. It doesn’t follow a normal path for a traditional Italian sauce, but it all just comes together.”