Monday, April 14, 2014

Restaurant Review: The Pasta Market

The Pasta Market - takeout on April 4, 2014 and April 8, 2014, 3.5 stars on yelp, 170 reviews
The Pasta Market is the place my cousin Christine recommended for takeout pasta. The one I was looking for when I ended up at Bon Chon Chicken the first time around. Turns out I needed to go just a little farther to the next strip mall over. Their menu is posted outside on the glass wall so you can take your time perusing their selections before going inside and placing your order. Although they also have menus inside if you missed it outside, both mounted and as paper copies at the counter.
It was fairly empty the first time I went but I was a bit on the early side, just before 6 pm. They offer the standard selections of different pastas (spaghetti, angel hair, linguine, fettuccine, gnocchi) in various sauces (marinara, bolognese, pesto, alfredo, carbonara) as well as filled pastas like tortellini, cannelloni, ravioli and lasagna. You can also opt to add more vegetables or proteins like chicken, shrimp, etc to your pasta dishes for an extra charge. To further carbo load, there are also pizza and calzone options as well as specialty entrees like veal parmigiana, linguine vongole, and sandwiches. So basically, the Italian version of a Chinese menu.
Most, if not all, of the orders come with your choice of breadsticks or garlic bread. The first time I went, I chose the breadsticks as the guy behind the counter said that's what they were known for. They were good but ironically I preferred the garlic bread that I tried on my second visit.
Breadsticks with cheese spread for dipping
The first time I went, I ordered the spaghetti and meatballs in meat sauce - my comfort food. They give a pretty decent-sized portion for something less than $10 so I more than got my money's worth. Moreover, they give a lot of sauce proportionate to the noodles (at least to me) so I ended up boiling my own angel hair pasta and adding it to the original dish. So I got 3 meals out of the 1 order. That's one way to make my takeout dollars stretch.
I don't know that I would call it gourmet Italian cuisine. It's okay. I don't have a very high bar for pasta so it suited me just fine. Moreover, it was convenient and at the right price point for a takeout meal. You can order at the counter when you arrive and they have your order ready within 5 minutes or you can call ahead to place your order and pick it up when you're ready. A boon for busy working families or overworked non-cooks who want a different option than Lean Cuisine at the end of a work day. Ahem.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
The staff was very nice both times I've gone. They're friendly and courteous, they ask if you want plastic utensils when you pick up your order and they provide extra packets of Parmesan for sprinkling over the pasta. They also accommodated my request both times for different noodles (angel hair for the spaghetti & meatballs and spaghetti noodles instead of linguine for the carbonara). I know it's just as easy for them to boil one type of noodle than another but I appreciated the flexibility and customer service.
The only thing I would caution is they do have a tendency to overcook their pasta; at least both of the orders I tried on 2 separate visits were over done. So if you like your pasta al dente, you may want to specify that or else lower your expectations.
Chicken Carbonara
The carbonara was good too and I appreciated the generous amounts of chicken and prosciutto in it as most places tend to skimp on the protein. As with the spaghetti, there was more than enough carbonara sauce for me to add my own noodles and once again, I got three servings out of one order from this one as well. If you're like me and don't cook, having 1 takeout meal feed you for 3 days (okay, yes, that did strike me as sounding just a little bit pathetic) means 2 days you don't have to worry about "what's for dinner?" Pathetic or not, I'll take it.
Garlic Bread
On my second visit, I finally noticed that to the right of the counter where you place your order, they had a refrigerated display case of desserts. How I missed that the first time around I can't explain. I made up for the oversight by choosing a slice of chocolate cake, "just to see" what it was like.
Normally, I'm very cynical about these things and didn't have high expectations of something sold out of a display case that isn't in a bakery. Color me wrong because I thought the chocolate cake was excellent. The cake layers were moist and whatever mousse/filling they used between the layers was delicious. It was heavier than a mousse but not sickly sweet like a frosting. It had the consistency of a creamy cheesecake but not the flavor or tang of a cheesecake. So I don't know what it was other than a dense, yummy mousse. Don't forget the part where I don't usually like frosting or creamy desserts. So for me to like this when it was mostly creamy, frosting-like confection is something.
Chocolate Cake - $3.95
It was pretty rich and normally I'd have a few bites of something like this then leave the rest for the next day just to exercise portion control. This time around, I told myself to put a sock in it and enjoyed it all on the same day. Granted, I had to spread the bites out over a 2-hour period but I still ate it all. And licked my fork.

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