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I Have This Restaurant to Thank for My Lemon Spaghetti

06 August 2019
by Giada De Laurentiis
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Giada's most popular recipe was inspired by an unforgettable trip to the island of Capri.

When I first came to Capri with Aunt Raffy, I thought I would be most impressed by the seafood we ate there. The tiny island near Naples and the Amalfi coast is a paradise of ultra-blue waters, towering cliffs, and colorful, seaside villas—and the uber-fresh seafood is truly incredible, don't get me wrong. But what I couldn't have anticipated was that the dish that would completely change my life on that trip was decidedly more earthbound.

Built on what was once the De Martino family's personal lemon grove, Da Paolino is probably the most famous restaurant on Capri. The family-run restaurant has been welcoming diners for more than 50 years to its outdoor dining room, where tables are set outdoors amongst their more than 100 lemon trees. In the height of summer, it's a fragrant, picturesque experience unlike any other. The moment we sat down for lunch, I was completely enchanted.

Da Paolino
Photo: Claire Sullivan

Of course, when you're surrounded by the sweet scent of fresh lemons, it's all you can think about eating. So I ordered a simple spaghetti dish tossed with olive oil, parmigiano reggiano cheese, garlic, and lemon from those gorgeous trees. One bite, and I was absolutely blown away by the balance of flavors. The salty cheese, tart lemon juice, and fragrant lemon oil all combined to make the most addictive plate of pasta I'd ever had. And it seemed so simple! I knew I had to figure out how to make it for myself.

Lemon Spaghetti

It took me months of experimenting in the kitchen to get the proportions of that deceptively simple lemon spaghetti just right. When I opened my first restaurant in Las Vegas, I knew it had to go on the menu; even without that picture-perfect canopy of lemon trees overhead, it's a dish you can't stop thinking about. Today, we've sold thousands and thousands of plates of lemon spaghetti—and every time I make it, I'm transported back to that lunch on Capri! 


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