Pasta Perfection - 405 Magazine

Pasta Perfection

A novel twist on tradition at Bradford House.

Photo by Rachel Maucieri

A novel twist on tradition at Bradford House

Cacio e pepe in its classic form is a model of simplicity: pasta, black pepper and cheese — that’s it. It is perfect in its simplicity, so if a chef is going to riff on it, the finished product better be worthy of the cacio e pepe designation. When Chef Caleb Stangroom added a goat cheese cacio e pepe to the new menu at Bradford House, 1235 NW 38th St. in OKC, he stayed faithful to the original build, but he did add one ingredient you wouldn’t normally find in the dish: egg yolk sauce. 

It’s true that the goat cheese is a departure from the more traditional pecorino and Parmesan, but the combination of tangy, nutty, slightly sweet Honey Bee goat cheese, rich egg yolk sauce and Della Terra bucatini makes this one of the best pasta dishes you’ll find anywhere. It respects tradition while allowing room for interpretation, and that seems to be a specialty of Stangroom, a chef who Springfield, Missouri, inexplicably allowed to leave. (Thanks, neighbor!) 

Photo by Rachel Maucieri

Stangroom brings a refreshing twist to all his dishes — like replicating a Big Mac (but doing it better) for his burger, or the short rib and taleggio cheese sauce in his Potato Latke appetizer. He explains the name by saying, “I thought people would respond better to ‘latkes’ than ‘potato pancakes’ on a menu.” Truly, no one is likely to care, as the dish is creamy, cheesy, savory and satisfying.

Using Della Terra pasta has become a habit for Stangroom, almost as if one excellent chef recognizes another. Chef Chris Becker’s OKC-based boutique pasta company was one of only two pasta producers in the United States to make The Wall Street Journal’s list of best pastas in the world. Once you learn Becker’s background, the honor makes sense.

Becker got his start as a line cook in New York City, where he worked his way into some of the most prestigious kitchens in the boroughs. His resume includes gigs as the pasta chef for Lidia Bastianich’s Del Posto, a restaurant that earned two Michelin stars and three James Beard Awards. He also made pasta for Chef Eric Ripert, owner of the three-Michelin-starred Le Bernardin, a restaurant distinguished by earning eight James Beard Awards — more than any other NYC restaurant. 

When people talk about the timeline of Oklahoma’s culinary evolution, 2011 should be noted as the year Becker started Della Terra Pasta. It was a turning point for pasta in central Oklahoma, and his pastas — fresh and dried — can be found in restaurants and stores all over the state now. Stangroom is not the only uber-talented chef who relies on Becker’s talent, knowledge and precision, but Bradford House is better for it, just as the 405 is better for Becker’s contributions.