I'm pretty sure the word "gnudi" wasn't on anyone's radar until they were served at The Spotted Pig in New York, which was when they became a food dork household name. In Italian, "gnudi" means what it sounds like in English: naked. It refers to little pasta-like dumplings that are "naked" of their pasta wrapper, raviolis without anything to enclose them. Gnudi are a bit like gnocchi, but they have far less flour and so are pillowy in the way that gnocchi never are.
The Spotted Pig has gotten more press than it will ever need, and I don't feel the need to sing its praises too lengthily here. It's an outstanding New York restaurant serving food that has drawn crowds and accolades consistenty since it opened six years ago. I had more than a couple outstanding meals there when I lived in New York, the highlight of which was a night when Fergus Henderson had commandeered the kitchen, and I first tried his classic dishes like roasted bone marrow on toast. But as for the restaurant on a regular day, there are two dishes that it is especially famous for. A bloody burger topped with Roquefort cheese and the dish at hand.
The way the Spotted Pig serves them is typical of its cooking style: absurdly rich, in a bath of brown butter, with little regard for balance. As if molten balls of ricotta cheese weren't rich enough, they top it with brown butter and a grating of Parmesan.
Over on Serious Eats' Burger Lab column, Kenji recently reverse-engineered a Spotted Pig burger that looks pretty darn good. The gnudi is a bit more of a mystery. Though public versions of the recipe have surfaced, most have agreed that they aren't the "real" recipe. The process they use in the restaurant is hidden not only from the public, but from most of the kitchen staff, according to an intern who worked there.
So it was a little surprising to be flipping through Earth to Table, a beautiful cookbook of essays and recipes about slow food and seasonal cooking, and came across a recipe for gnudi. And not just any recipe. "We were able to take some of our staff [to The Spotted Pig] and discovered the secret to their 'naked pasta,'" they note casually in the recipe's headnote. Then they proceed to demonstrate how they're made.