Today, Pasta Pomodoro was for lunch. This is a small chain of less than 2 dozen restaurants in the Sacramento & Bay Areas. It’s probably been years since I’ve been to one. I think I was working at Round Table when this one opened across the street and it felt like I went there a lot for a while. Ten years later, they don’t seem to have changed a bit.
I headed in a little before 12:30PM. There was just one family seated and I was pretty much given free choice of where to sit. They have round tables, that seat four, which circle the dining room along with big floor-to-ceiling windows. Just beyond that is a nice patio which is great when it’s not 90°+ out. Booths and a smaller section of square tables finish off the dining room, and there is a small bar near the entrance. Although they had been open for nearly an hour already, it felt like they had just unlocked the doors. The floor mat for the entrance was still rolled up and sitting on a bench in the waiting area. As I was seated, my server took my drink order and handed me a menu. I just had a water, which he returned with pretty quickly. He showed me the seasonal menu as well as the lunch menu on the back of the main one, then told me he would get me some fresh bread and was off again. At about this time another family arrived and was seated.
He tended to them for a while. They got drinks and even seemed to order food fairly quickly. I waited for a little while before he returned and took my order as well. I went with the Bolognese (rigatoni tossed with rich beef, pork and porcini mushroom sauce, topped with shaved pecorino) lunch combo with a Caesar salad. With that he was off again. I wasn’t sure if he had forgotten about my bread or not at this point. It’s possible they were still warming it up. Eventually it was brought out by a different guy, about 10 or so minutes after my server had first mentioned it. Right behind it by less than a minute was my salad. The bread and oil/pesto dip is one of the first things I think about when I see Pasta Pomodoro. It’s delicious and unlimited. The bread was soft and just a touch warm.
My salad was a pretty decent size. The dressing was already mixed in and coating each bit of Romain lettuce evenly. A dozen or so small croutons were hiding underneath and around the outside. A bit of shaved cheese topped it off. I figured it was parmesan at first but later realized it was the same pecorino cheese (which, I just read, is made from sheep’s milk) that is on the bolognese. The salad was fantastic. The lettuce was crisp and very fresh. Every bite had plenty of dressing and the garlic croutons were nice and crunchy. I practically inhaled it in a matter of minutes. After that I polished of the last piece of bread and waited a bit before my main dish came out.
A pile of rigatoni covered in meaty red sauce was topped with the shaved percorino cheese and then some grated parmesan which my server sprinkled on top with a spoon from a small bowl, rather than hand grated at the table. Hiding below the pasta were little bites of meat from the sauce. The rigatoni seemed to be cooked well. Each peice was soft yet still had a bit a firmness to it’s structure. The sauce was rich and plentiful. I think I probably could have done with less or no parmesan. It was surprisingly potent and added a little too much saltiness. The parts that had less cheese were very tasty and overall I was quite happy with this dish. I ended up taking half of it home since the bread and salad were more filling than I expected.
I find the food here to be pretty good and the prices very reasonable. For this lunch I spent about $10. My server was very nice, though he seemed to have his hands full with just a few tables. At one point after requesting some more water I watched as he completely forgot about it and went about doing other things behind the bar, then realized what he was missing as he was off to serve some wine and discretely asked the other server to get it, which then happened very quickly. Italian is not really one of my favorites, but Pasta Pomodoro does it well enough to keep themselves in the back of my mind when I’m thinking about where to go to eat over on this side of Roseville.