IDEA ALLEY: Villa’s pasta recipe prepared using two methods

(Illustration by Kelly Brant)
(Illustration by Kelly Brant)

Recipes that appear in Idea Alley have not been tested by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Restaurant menu items are among the most popular requests of Idea Alley. But they're also least likely to be fulfilled. This is in part because restaurant chefs and owners are understandably protective and secretive about their recipes. It is also because transforming a recipe from restaurant quantity to family meal can be nearly impossible. Home cooks simply do not have access to the same ingredients, and scaling down a recipe isn't just a matter of simple math.

Not to mention, Kats often request recipes for dishes from restaurants that closed years, if not decades, ago.

I'm not saying don't request recipes from restaurants, but do keep expectations realistic.

Fortunately, Ken Shivey, retired co-owner of The Villa Italian Restaurant in Little Rock, has been generous over the years regarding his restaurant's recipes. Shivey shared The Villa's basics for re-creating its classic Fettuccine Carbonara with Alley Kats back in 2013.

Adventurous cooks will need to work out the proportions and the cooking technique. Note, contrary to most carbonara recipes, this one does not contain eggs.

Fettuccine Carbonara

  • Spinach pasta
  • 6 parts heavy whipping cream
  • 1 part grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Diced prosciutto ham
  • Sliced fresh mushrooms
  • Fresh parsley
  • Chopped garlic
  • Black pepper

Shivey did not include instructions, but if I were making this, here are two ways I might do it:

Option 1: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain., reserving a little of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, pour the cream into a separate pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the cheese and cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted.

Return the pasta and a few tablespoons of the reserved cooking water to the pot and add the cream-parmesan mixture. Toss until pasta is thoroughly coated in sauce. Serve topped with ham, mushrooms, parsley, garlic and black pepper.

Option 2: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, saute the prosciutto and mushrooms in a large skillet until the prosciutto is crisp and the mushrooms release their moisture. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds more or until fragrant. Stir in the heavy cream and parmesan, cooking until cheese is melted and then add the cooked pasta along with a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water and mix until pasta is thoroughly coated with sauce. Serve topped with parsley and ground black pepper.

■  ■  ■

We had to dig back to 2010 to find this recipe for Robert Waddell.

"The first time I had the sweet potato fries at the Market Place Restaurant, I knew I had to come up with a likeness for their dipping sauce, and I did," wrote Donna Daugherty in response to Manda Homway's request.

Sweet Potato Fries Dipping Sauce

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon dark corn syrup

Combine sugars and water in a skillet. Add remaining ingredients and cook, stirring constantly, until sugars melt, then bring to a boil and boil rapidly for 1 to 2 minutes. The sauce will still be a thin syrup, but it will thicken a little bit as it cools.


◼️ Rub like that used on the prime rib at Coy's Place in Fayetteville in the late 1980s and '90s for Waddell.

◼️ Dinner rolls like those at Venetian Inn in Tontitown, also for Waddell.

◼️ Breadsticks like those at Van Houten's Bakery in Fort Smith for Audrey Aikman. "Crispy and garlic" is how Aikman describes them.

Email recipe contributions, requests and culinary questions to:

Upcoming Events